The UCLA Bruins basketball program has suffered a decline under head coach Ben Howland, as evident by this year's 16-13 squad, a middle of the pack team in a horrid Pac-12 Conference. The decline of the program since the three straight Final Four appearances was detailed in an article by George Dohrmann in the March 5 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Jerime Anderson, Drew Gordon, and J'mison Morgan, all part of the Baby Bruins No. 1-ranked recruiting class in 2008, were identified by seven members of the 2008-2009 team as frequent party attenders, including drinking and smoking marijuana even before practice. Howland's lack of discipline is detailed by Dohrmann, who also said the coach did not have the respect of his players:
Each of the players who spoke to SI said they found Howland socially awkward and disapproved of the verbal abuse they say he directed at his staff, the student managers and the weakest players. One player said if he saw Howland waiting for the elevator he would take the stairs.
Reeves Nelson, a forward with an explosive temper, would lash out at teammates in practice, including getting in several fights with Bruins teammates. But Howland did not discipline the forward:
After each of the incidents, Howland looked the other way. One team member says he asked Howland after a practice why he wasn't punishing Nelson, to which he said Howland responded, "He's producing."
Howland did eventually reprimand Nelson, suspending him twice earlier this season before ultimately kicking him off the team.
The article certainly doesn't paint Howland or the UCLA program in a good light, so it will be interesting to see how the school responds. As one player told Dohrmann, "Can you imagine the same thing happening at Duke? Can you imagine players getting away with that stuff under Coach K?"
To discuss the potential UCLA basketball scandal brewing, check out Bruins Nation.