UCLA has reportedly found its replacement for former coach Ben Howland.
According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, the Bruins have come to an agreement with New Mexico coach Steve Alford on a seven-year contract worth $2.6 million per year.
Alford led New Mexico to both a Mountain West regular season and conference tournament title in 2012-13. The Lobos finished with a 29-6 record on the year after losing to No. 14-seeded Harvard in the Round of 64 of the NCAA tournament.
For his efforts, Alford signed a contract extension on March 20 that was set to keep him with New Mexico through the 2023 season. That contract was due to begin April 1, but now seems to be no more.
The report from CBS Sports also says UCLA will pay his buyout from New Mexico. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the buyout in his old deal is less than $200,000, while the new contract that was planned to take effect April 1 has a buyout of $1 million.
“We want him to be here at the University of New Mexico a long time,” New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs said at the time Alford signed with UNM just over a week ago. “Steve’s done a tremendous job — not only in wins and losses, but in graduation rate, presence in community, the good will. Look at all the national publicity about the program we’ve been receiving and he’s been a very good representative of this university in this time.”
New Mexico is now in need of a head coach and whoever they pursue will have a number of assets built into the program, among them a team that will return nearly every key piece other than Tony Snell and a strong tradition with a loyal base of fans.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.