UCLA Confirms SI Exposé on Player Drug Use

Early Tuesday SbB reported on Twitter that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED planned to publish a story detailing drug use within the UCLA basketball program.

The investigative piece, which SbB has been told recounts marijuana usage by players who have since departed the program, was addressed by UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland at his weekly press conference in Los Angeles today.

Q: Have you heard about the Sports Illustrated article coming out?

A: I know there is an article coming out and I think it’s tomorrow.

Q: Have you been contacted for it?

A: I was contacted last Wednesday or Thursday.

Q: Any idea what the subject of the story is going to be?

A: I can’t speculate.

Q: How do you handle a negative story that has a national interest with recruits?

A: Make the players we’re involved with aware of it and we’ve done that so it’s not coming out without some knowledge of the article.

Q: Do you think there was a period when there was kids in the program who had drug problems?

A: Specifically I can’t talk about any former player or student relative to having anything to do with that. We have a comprehensive drug policy here at UCLA where any time someone fails a random drug test, I’m alerted, the trainer is alerted and the person overseeing the drug policy here. And there is a very good and outstanding program in place for student athletes of all teams to receive education and receive counseling and receive discipline.

Q: When you think back do you think you’ve correctly handled inappropriate behavior by players?

A: With specific players in terms of working with our student athletes, I guess I have to ask you to be more specific.

Q: When a player did something inappropriate, do you think you’ve handled those things correctly?

A: Yeah, I think for the most part, I have.

Q: You said “most part.” Is there something maybe you should have . . .

A: I’d have to go back and look at specifics. You’re speaking in generalities. No one is perfect. I would never claim to be that person. Everybody makes mistakes. I’m definitely not perfect.

SbB has been told the 6,500+ word SI story will be posted to the magazine’s website Wednesday morning.

Sources have also recently indicated to SbB that UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero previously tipped off non-athletic UCLA administrators and major donors to the story by noting that the school has hired a crisis communication firm to help address the situation publicly.

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Week In Review: Danica’s Tat MIA From SI Shoot

Danica Patrick’s lower back tattoo: Now you see it, now you don’t.

Danica Patrick with tattoo without

• Speaking of SI, one long-time contributor isn’t a big fan of their latest swimsuit model selections, calling them “creepy” and “alien-ish“. On the other hand, they can sure sell Big Nut Bars.

• Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie tried to get jiggy with ESPN reporter Jeannine Edwards.

• A British beauty has been banned from boxing because of her breast implants.

Read more…

SbB Clever Caption Contest: Ben Howland’s Happy

Hey, readers! It’s time for another superlative SbB Clever Caption Contest!

Today we catch UCLA b-ball coach Ben Howland making a few points:

Ben Howland UCLA coach

Alright, so how else would you describe this Pauley Pavilion pose? Submit your suggestions into the comments section linked below. Winner will be announced in the end-of-the-day recap & be christened the new Wizard of Westwood! (OK, maybe not.)

Good luck and good writing!

Speed Read: Man, The NFC West Is Really Awful

The last time we say the Cardinals take on the 49ers on Monday Night Football was Opening Night of last season, and the result was a 20-17 loss that set the tone for a disappointing 2007 season for Arizona. Flash forward one year and change, and the Cardinals were able to take out the 49ers 29-24 on the strength of a last second goal line stand.

Arizona Cardinals OL Deuce Lutui

Quite a difference one season can make, right? Instead of Matt Leinart looking confused under center, you had Kurt Warner, looking for all the world like an MVP. And at the end of the day, Arizona is 6-3, and a full four games ahead of their nearest NFC West rivals.

Allen Rossum

But really, if you are a Cardinals fan, do you feel any better about the team after last night’s game than you did before? To quote an ex-coach, the 49ers were who we thought they were: a mediocre team with nothing to lose. Great teams put teams like that away early. Good teams let them hang around until the 4th quarter before pulling away. The Cardinals rely on a stop as time expires at the goal line after a questionable “down by contact” ruling.

Perhaps this says less about the Cardinals than it does about the overall awful nature of the NFC West?

In other sports news that happened while you were looking to unload your extra Inauguration tickets:

TJ Downing

What will the end result be of the Arizona Cardinals’ season?

View Results

NCAA Moves Back 3-Point Line, Chaos To Ensue

Do you, like millions of fans, enjoy the 3-point shot? You can credit the three for high-scoring games, quick momentum swings, incredible late-game comebacks and thrilling buzzer beaters. Well too bad. Because there’s going to be an awful lot less of them in college basketball this year.

Foot On The Line

(Get ready for an awful lot of this.)

The NCAA made the rule change last May, moving the three-point-line back a foot to 20 feet, 9 inches. But the repercussions are only now being felt, as teams begin practicing. “I say, ‘OK, shoot 3s,’” said Washington State coach Tony Bennett, “and a large percentage of guys have their foot on the line.” Hope you like 58-56 basketball games.

Read more…

UCLA’s Kevin Love Seeking Warmth of the NBA?

The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports this morning that frosh center and muse for aged sportswriters Kevin Love has told UCLA coach Ben Howland he will enter the NBA draft. Also, Darren Collison has done the same. Both will supposedly announce their intentions after a Wednesday afternoon UCLA press conference led by Howland.

Moses parts the Red Sea

(UCLA players, please exit in a calm and orderly fashion
before Yul Brynner gets here)

However, THE DAILY BREEZE spoke to Kevin Love’s mother and Collison, both of whom emphatically denied the TIMES report in great detail.

And let the merry-go-round begin!

Read more…

Blog-O-Rama: Brewers Fans Find Profit In Potties

DEADSPIN via WALKOFF WALK discovers that some Brewers fans are a whiz at making a profit from port-a-potty problems.

Milwaukee 12 Man Beer Bong

Such are the results when you imbibe in a 12-man beer bong.

• The HARTFORD COURANT pitches out the top 50 MLB salaries, and you’ll never guess which team claims the top 3 spots. (OK, you will.)

• Speaking of salaries, BLOOMBERG notes that if Kansas beats Memphis tonight, Jayhawks coach Bill Self will be $200,000 richer.

Read more…

UCLA Basketball Coach Ben Howland Signs 7-Year Deal

HOWLAND SCRATCHES UCLA ITCH WITH NEW 7-YEAR DEAL: Ben Howland will be sticking around Westwood for a while, as the UCLA basketball coach just signed a new 7-year deal with the Pac-10 power:

Ben Howland money

The ASSOCIATED PRESS reports that Howland’s contract starts out at $1.5 million for the 2007-08 season, and can increase to $2 million by the final year. The new deal also includes an incentives package that can bring an additional $235,000 into the pockets of the Pauley Pavilion purveyor.

SBB Girls Indianapolis Final Four

Howland has coached the Bruins to back-to-back Final Four appearances the last two seasons. And he seems content to stay where he’s at: “This has always been my dream job. I grew up a Bruin basketball fan and it still is hard for me to believe that I am the caretaker of the program that Coach (John) Wooden built.”

OJ Mayo Has First Practice With USC Basketball Team

“STREET BALL” AND NO DEFENSE GREET O.J. MAYO AT USC: The LOS ANGELES TIMES reports on the first practice of O.J. Mayo with the USC Trojans basketball team (as does the LADN) - and to no one’s surprise, Coach Tim Floyd is doing his best to downplay expectations of his one-and-done swingman: “He’s like every other freshman. He’s got to learn what we’re doing right now, and as he gets more confident in the system of play and in what we’re doing.

O.J. Mayo USC Basketball

We think Floyd has done much to revive the moribund USC program but in head-to-head matchups with Ben Howland at UCLA, he was clearly outcoached. And to us he can only take a team so far with his Guy Lewis-esque approach.

An example of that approach was his ridiculous practice plan for the team yesterday, which he detailed to the press: “Floyd said he commenced the practice with about eight minutes of ’street ball’ to learn players’ tendencies and spent the remainder of the 2-hour-20-minute session emphasizing offensive skills. The coach said he might not implement any defensive schemes until the team begins practicing for the season Oct. 12.

Street ball and no defense? Hello Round of 32!

In other USC-related news, former USC running back Emmanuel Moody revealed yesterday he is transferring to Florida. Urban Meyer confirmed the news, albeit accidently, on the same day.

This Is What Happens When Jim Harrick Doesnt Prepare For Special Situations

WHY PREPARING FOR SPECIAL SITUATIONS IS A GOOD IDEA: Sometimes life just isn’t fair. UCLA enters the Pac-10 basketball tournament today as the top seed, and is a favorite to garner a similar position in the NCAA tournament.

Ben Howland UCLA Coed

Meanwhile, 112 miles north of Staples Center at the ass-end of the San Joaquin Valley, the last man to coach the Bruins to a national title, Jim Harrick, is coaching the NBDL Bakersfield Jam to a dead-last finish (it’s gotten so ugly that the NBDL bogarted the Jam’s team stats page).

Jim Harrick NBDL Bakersfield Jam Last Place

Guess the coach didn’t take his own advice.

Jim Harrick Harrick's Hounds

As a Univ. of Georgia alumnus, I can’t tell you how through-the-roof ecstatic melancholy this makes me.