UCLA Introduces Steve Alford

Report: Steve Alford’s contract with UCLA has a massive buyout

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UCLA fans better get on board with Steve Alford as the head coach of their program, because he’s going to be there for a long time.

Yes, he signed a seven-year deal with $18.2 million, but the length and value of a contract does little to dissuade a coach to leave for a longer, more valuable contract should one arise.

The reason that Alford will be locked in at UCLA for the longterm, per a report from the LA Times, is that he’s got an unusually high buyout clause in his contract: if he leaves UCLA before April 30th, 2016 — when he would complete his third year on the job — Alford would have to pay the school a buyout of four times him annual salary, or $10.4 million. If he leaves before four years are complete, his buyout will be $7.8 million. After five years, it is $5.2 million and if he leaves before finishing six years on the job, that number drops all the way to $2.6 million.

Perhaps what makes this buyout all the more surprising is the mirror provision in the contract, meaning that if UCLA decides to fire Alford, they’ll be on the hook for the same buyout structure.

What that means is that Alford will, in all likelihood, be in Westwood for at least five years, and possibly six, making guaranteed money. I don’t care how poorly things are going, I find it tough to believe that UCLA would shell out more than $5 million just to make a coaching change. That’s risky, as it creates little incentive for winning. Alford is going to be getting paid regardless of how well his team performs, and even if they’re at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings throughout his tenure, he’s going to play out the majority of his contract.

Now most coaches are wired as competitors with dogged work ethics; that’s just how you have to be to survive at the high-major level.

The good news is that this guarantees consistency; Alford can recruit and build his program with recruits knowing that he’ll likely be there throughout their college career.

But if anything happens to go wrong, Alford and UCLA are stuck with each other for the long haul.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.