UCLA didn’t really believe it was going to lure Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens to coach its basketball program, did it?
Initial reports are that the Bruins, who fired Ben Howland Sunday, did just that. I suppose you make those obligatory inquiries, but it was going to be a big upset if they could pry loose Smart from Virginia Commonwealth, even more of a stretch that they could attract Stevens from Butler.
Neither has any tie to the West Coast, and as I wrote a few days ago, it’s become questionable just how good a job UCLA is. Seth Davis made an astute comment the other night on CBS radio: UCLA is one of the few spots in the country where the fans have unreasonable demands — but don’t show up to the games. Winning is never enough there, unless it’s on a grand scale, and the pay doesn’t measure up to the challenge.
So now the Bruins are where most of us figured all along their search would take them: To some less-sexy candidates. Smart has re-upped at VCU and sources say Stevens is staying put at Butler.
I wouldn’t be surprised if UCLA kicks the tires on Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we should take Romar at his word and believe he wants to stay at Washington. Given the demands and expectations at UCLA, I’m not sure the Washington job is significantly less attractive. Only the fact Romar’s star doesn’t shine quite so brightly after two straight seasons out of the NCAA tournament, and the fact there’s urgency to improve the program next year, would tilt that dynamic in favor of him giving close consideration to the Bruins if they come calling.
So Bruins athletic director Dan Guerrero may find himself in a similar position to when he went searching for a football coach some 16 months ago. Guerrero sounded out Boise State’s Chris Petersen (think Brad Stevens) and when a couple of others didn’t pan out, he hired Jim Mora Jr. That appears to have been a winner — although it’s early — and Guerrero appears to be looking at a familiar scenario.