UCLA has hired New Mexico head coach Steve Alford to take over the program, according to Jeff Goodman of CBS. Alford has coached 18 seasons at three schools: Missouri State, Iowa, and New Mexico. He had his greatest success at New Mexico in the last four years, where the Lobos have won at least 28 games in three different seasons. New Mexico was upset by Harvard this year, and has not reached a Sweet Sixteen despite being a top five seed three different times.
This is not the hot shot hire or the grand slam when the program fired Ben Howland. Alford does bring some stability to a program that had been sliding in recent years. Alford is in that next tier of coaches, after the Hall of Famers like Krzyzewski, Izzo, Self and the like, and the hot coaches like Brad Stevens. He can build a program, and the trademark of his Lobos teams has been defense and rebounding. A UCLA fan base that has a history of seeing Final Fours, including with Ben Howland, will hope that Alford’s two tournament wins in 14 years in Iowa and New Mexico are not predictive.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]