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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

February 29, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Sports Illustrated levels Howland, UCLA

Pretty sizzling piece in Sports Illustrated this week — by Pulitzer Prize-winning George Dohrmann — on the decline of the UCLA basketball program. See it here:

The essence of it is that Bruins coach Ben Howland allowed discipline to wane with the recruitment of certain players. Among the culprits is Reeves Nelson, described in the story as somebody whose talents Howland valued so much that he allowed all sorts of bad behavior, including deliberating injuring teammates in practice.

Mentioned relatively briefly is Josh Smith, the former Kentwood standout, and not necessarily in a good light. Smith is portrayed as a player Howland is reluctant to discipline.

What’s remarkable is the turn of events in the program. You don’t expect a program to go to three straight Final Fours, under a coach who had already had success at Pitt, and suddenly go off the rails.

The Bruins had been recruiting Shabazz Muhammad of Las Vegas, a shooting guard ranked by some the top player in the country. Good luck landing him now.

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