Earlier this season, the speculation was overwhelming: there was no way that UCLA head coach Ben Howland would return next season.
Not after he lost two more former blue-chip recruits to a transfer. Not after he lost to Cal Poly. Not after the seats at Pauley Pavilion remained unfilled. Not after he managed to tick off just about everyone around the UCLA program, namely Bill Walton, the former UCLA center who has made ripping Howland on ESPN broadcasts his favorite hobby.
But that was before Howland rallied this team and led them to the Pac-12 regular season title and took them to the Pac-12 tournament title game where they could have won if it weren’t for a broken foot suffered by star Jordan Adams.
And yet, that may not be enough to safe his job, if you believe what Bill Plaschke has to say:
There is talk that the athletic department, for both basketball and business reasons, wants this season to be Howland’s last. There is word that a $2.3-million buyout is already in place. There is a feeling that only a Sweet 16 appearance could save his job, and even that might not be enough.
Dan Guerrero, the Bruins’ athletic director, will be faced with a tough choice that perhaps has already been made. The real shame is that Howland’s short-handed team won’t be dressed for the kind of success that could make that decision tougher.
At some point, it’s not even about basketball anymore. People around the UCLA program may be fed up with Howland, and that’s enough to cost someone their job when he’s not winning the way UCLA expects him to win.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.
“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”
McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.
“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.
Like the Coaches Poll, Villanova found themselves No. 1 in the AP Poll during the regular season for the first time in the history of the program.
And like the Coaches Poll, there isn’t much in the way of a consensus when it comes to who is the No. 1 team, as there are six teams that received No. 1 votes in the poll this week.
The biggest shock to me?
The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just 11 first place votes and is ranked fourth in the AP Poll.
They were ranked fifth in the Coaches Poll.
Can we get Fran McCaffery the love they deserve?
Here is the rest of the AP Poll:
1. Villanova (20-3, 32 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 13)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 7)
4. Iowa (19-4, 11)
5. Xavier (21-2)
6. Kansas (19-4, 1)
7. Virginia (19-4, 1)
8. Michigan State (20-4)
9. North Carolina (19-4)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Oregon (18-4)
12. Miami (FL) (18-4)
13. Louisville (19-4)
14. Iowa State (17-6)
15. Texas A&M (18-5)
16. SMU (20-2)
17. Arizona (19-5)
18. Purdue (19-5)
19. Dayton (19-3)
20. Providence (18-6)
21. Baylor (17-6)
22. Kentucky (17-6)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Texas (16-7)
25. Wichita State (17-6)
DROPPED OUT: No. 22 Indiana, No. 25 South Carolina
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 24 Texas