Saturday, April 13, 2019

Jaylen Hands says "Me, too!!!"


Daily Bruin
Article Link 
April 7, 2019 
2:30 pm

Another Bruin is headed to the NBA.
UCLA men’s basketball sophomore guard Jaylen Hands announced via his Twitter account Sunday afternoon that he intends to forgo his final two years of college eligibility and enter the 2019 NBA Draft.

To UCLA ... thank you for the best 2 years of my life! Thank you for each and every high and low. Thank you to my family, coaches, teammates, and supporters along the way. I have signed with an agent and will enter the 2019 NBA Draft with the full intent to stay in.
Hands also entered his name into the draft pool after his freshman season, but decided to return to UCLA after not hiring an agent.
The former five-star recruit appeared in 64 games over two seasons with the program, starting in 46 of them. As the team’s full-time starter this past season, Hands averaged 14.2 points, 6.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game – earning him second-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Hands – a projected second-round pick – is the second Bruin this offseason to declare for the draft after sophomore guard Kris Wilkes announced his plan to leave last month. UCLA is still awaiting word from sophomore guard Chris Smith and freshman center Moses Brown, both of whom have appeared in mock drafts in the past few months.
The deadline for early entry into the NBA Draft is April 21st.

Sierra Canyon’s Cassius Stanley adds Duke to college choices, schedules visit


Cronin honored to be coaching ′ Wooden’s program’

By BETH HARRIS / AP Sports Writer via The Record-Courier

Mick Cronin jumps right into his work as UCLA basketball coach

april 11 2019 | BEN BOLCH | THE L.A. TIMES | ARTICLE LINK 

Some UCLA fans woke up Thursday to the sound of their new basketball coach’s voice. 

Mick Cronin introduced himself to donors and season ticket-holders through a robocall, asking them to join the Bruins for games next season at Pauley Pavilion.

“Together,” Cronin said on the call, “we are going to make this happen.”

After weeks of waiting to learn if he would get the job he’s long coveted, Cronin has sprung into action like a tiger unleashed from captivity. He’s already met with his players, conducted interviews and reached out to the team’s incoming freshmen.

Cronin had a 35-minute phone conversation with Santa Margarita High forward Jake Kyman, according to Coley Kyman, Jake’s father.

“Jake was really excited,” his father said. “Jake really enjoyed the call and the conversation.”

Cronin was also free to contact prospective recruits as of noon Thursday after an NCAA-mandated dead period ended. The Bruins don’t currently have any additional scholarships to offer for next season, but that could change if other players leave for the NBA draft or transfer. The spring signing period runs from Wednesday to May 15.

Cronin said during his introductory news conference Wednesday that he wanted everybody on the roster to stay and he understood there could be some trepidation among his players about their fit with a new coach.

“Hey, I don’t know about this guy, he may not play me, may not let me shoot enough,” Cronin said, “but you’re gonna know this. He’s honestly honest, OK? I spell love and discipline the same way. And I think, whether it’s being a father, you gotta spend time with people if you love them. And if you spend time with people, you know who they are, they know what you’re about and they know you’re about helping them become better men as a basketball coach. And if you’re doing that, it’s easy to coach, because the kids know you love them.”

Cronin said he told his players that their goal was to become a team that nobody wanted to play because they could never easily be defeated.

“My job is to make sure we do the coachable things,” Cronin said. “You gotta be able to win when you don’t make shots. The truth of it is, if you want to score, you gotta get some layups, which means you gotta score early in the clock, you gotta steal the ball, block shots, get easy baskets, and you gotta rebound, that’s effort-related.”

To win what would be UCLA’s first Pac-12 Conference regular-season championship since coach Ben Howland’s final season in 2012-13, Cronin said, the Bruins must prepare to beat the best team on their schedule, win on the road and defeat top-20 teams.

Cronin wouldn’t say when those things might happen, though true to his first days on the job, he appeared to be in a rush.

“The faster the better,” Cronin said. “You think fans want to win? Try being the coach that doesn’t sleep, that puts in all the work, the coaching staff and the players. We want to win more, I promise you.”

Times staff writer Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.

Mick Cronin introduced as UCLA coach: ‘I understand the expectations’

april 10 2019 | blake richardson | THE L.A. TIMES | ARTICLE LINK

Mick Cronin not bothered by UCLA’s hiring process, said he’s ‘here to win’

Mick Cronin said he was comfortable with UCLA’s hiring process as it chose a new men’s basketball coach.

He said the school communicated with him throughout the process, and were honest about considering other candidates. Cronin said he was not concerned by reports and speculation that the program was pursuing other coaches. They followed the timetable they gave Cronin, he said.

“It was trust us, trust us, trust us,” Cronin said of the process.

As for the team’s goals, Cronin said his focus now is on building relationships with the players. When asked about whether he would keep current UCLA assistant coaches on his staff, Cronin said, “I’m considering everybody.”

Throughout the press conference, Cronin emphasized winning — in his approach, his goals, his reasons for taking the job.

“It’s UCLA,” Cronin said. “I understand the expectations. And the sooner the better.”

Mick Cronin excited to follow John Wooden’s footsteps at UCLA

Mick Cronin posed for a photo with a white UCLA basketball jersey, athletic director Dan Guerrero to his right.

“Those four letters are more important than the name on the back,” Cronin remarked.

When Cronin made his opening statement at his introductory press conference, he said he knew the job would be “tremendous challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity.” He expressed excitement at the chance to follow coach John Wooden’s legacy.

“It was an unbelievable honor for me, so I’m a little overwhelmed,” Cronin said of the job. “But trust me, I’m prepared.”

Cronin said the “toughest day of my life” came the day before, when he told his team at Cincinnati that he was leaving the program. It was a day, Cronin said, he never thought would come.

He met with his new players for a half-hour Wednesday morning. He implored them to ask questions and emphasized the importance of honoring the history of UCLA’s program.

“UCLA is elite, has always been elite,” Cronin said. “We need to be elite on the court. And obviously, I believe we’re gonna do that.”

Dan Guerrero introduces Mick Cronin

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero introduced Mick Cronin as UCLA’s new men’s basketball coach at a press conference Wednesday.

“We want you to rally behind this coach,” Guerrero said, addressing Bruins fans.

Besides on-the-court success, Guerrero said the Bruins wanted a coach who could build programs, develop players and wanted to be part of the program. Guerrero said Cronin’s desire to lead UCLA was evident “from the moment we met.”

“We’re absolutely thrilled with the outcome,” Guerrero said of the coaching decision.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Coach Mick Cronin's Introductory Press Conference

Cassius Stanley is waiting to hear from new UCLA coach Mick Cronin

APRIL 9, 2019 | eric sondheimer | THE L.A. TIMES | ARTICLE LINK

Mick Cronin is scheduled to be introduced as UCLA’s new basketball coach on Wednesday in Westwood, and one of his first tasks might be to pick up the recruiting of standout guard Cassius Stanley of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon.

Stanley’s father, Jerome, said Tuesday his son has not eliminated any of the three finalists for his college choice. They are UCLA, Oregon and Kansas. But he said he has had no contact with UCLA coaches for several weeks and has never spoken with Cronin, who was at Cincinnati.

“I expect we will have a conversation out of respect for the program,” Jerome Stanley said. “That was the purpose of waiting.”

Stanley did not make an early commitment while waiting to see what would happen with UCLA’s program and others. He’s scheduled to make a college announcement on April 17, so UCLA would have to catch up quickly in the recruiting department.

Stanley has strong Los Angeles ties and could be an early test of Cronin’s recruiting skills.

UCLA hires Mick Cronin as its new basketball coach

Image result for mick cronin april 9, 2019 | BEN BOLCH | THE L.A. TIMES | ARTICLE LINK

And on the 100th day, UCLA found its new basketball coach.
The Bruins hired Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin on Tuesday, ending a lengthy search that started on the final day of December and concluded one day after the final game of the college basketball season.
Cronin agreed to a six-year, $24-million contract that will nearly double his previous $2.2-million annual salary with the Bearcats. He is scheduled to be introduced late Wednesday morning during a news conference at Pauley Pavilion.
Cronin could be considered UCLA’s Plan C after a messy sequence of events prevented the school from hiring Texas Christian’s Jamie Dixon or Tennessee’s Rick Barnes. The Bruins failed to reach a deal with Dixon because of his $8-million buyout and couldn’t come to terms with Barnes after a series of intense negotiations resulted in the veteran coach remaining in Knoxville.
“Throughout what was a thorough and exhaustive search, those of us on the committee repeatedly discussed and emphasized the importance of bringing in a coach who really wants to be here,” Golden State Warriors general manager and UCLA alumnus Bob Myers said in a statement. “As a former player who knows firsthand how special it is to wear the four letters — UCLA — I am excited that we got a coach in Mick who wants to be a part of this historic program.”
Cronin, 47, will take over a program seeking a return to national relevancy. The Bruins have not been to a Final Four in more than a decade or won a national championship in nearly a quarter of a century.
“I am incredibly humbled and honored to become the head coach at UCLA,” Cronin said in a statement. “I’m especially grateful to Chancellor [Gene] Block and to [athletic director] Dan Guerrero for this opportunity to join the Bruin Family. UCLA is a very special place with a strong tradition of excellence. To be able to join such a world-class institution is truly a privilege, and I can’t wait to get started in Westwood.”

Cronin replaces Steve Alford, who was fired in December after five-plus seasons that yielded only sporadic success and included a dramatic drop-off over the last two seasons. The team had a 7-6 record, including home losses to Belmont and Liberty, at the time of Alford’s dismissal. Murry Bartow took over as interim coach for the Bruins, who finished 17-16 and seventh in the Pac-12 Conference.

In some ways, Cronin is the anti-Alford.

His teams are strong defensively and consistent winners; the Bearcats have made nine consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament during his 13 seasons at Cincinnati, advancing to a regional semifinal in 2012. The only other college coaches to take their teams to the NCAA tournament over each of the last nine years are North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kansas’ Bill Self and Gonzaga’s Mark Few. Cronin’s 365-171 overall record includes three previous seasons at Murray State and gives him the most victories among active Division I coaches under 50.

Cronin emerged as a leading candidate for the UCLA job after his teams had beaten the Bruins in two of the last three seasons, including a 29-point thrashing in December. The Bearcats finished this season with a 28-7 record, winning a second consecutive American Athletic Conference tournament championship before losing to Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“Mick has built a fantastic program at Cincinnati, backed by integrity and discipline, and he has instilled an undeniable toughness in his student-athletes," Guerrero said in a statement. "I am confident he will build this program the right way and lead UCLA basketball back to national prominence.”

Cronin was forced to miss the final 25 games of the 2014-15 season while recovering from an unruptured aneurysm that was discovered after he complained of lingering headaches. He was given a clean bill of health afterward and returned to his full coaching duties before the following season.

Cronin’s teams at his alma mater have routinely been among the most efficient in the nation defensively, falling outside the top 20 in basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy’s rankings only twice in the last nine years. The Bearcats have also ranked among the top 50 teams in offensive efficiency over each of the last three seasons even while featuring one of the slowest tempos in the college game.

Cronin will inherit a UCLA roster that may bear a strong resemblance to the one from last season, when the Bruins did not advance to the postseason for the fourth time in the last decade. Sophomores Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands recently announced their intentions to hire an agent and declare for the NBA draft in the first of a possible handful of departures.

But the Bruins are expected to bring back a strong core of players supplemented by the return of point guard Tyger Campbell (torn knee ligament) and power forward Shareef O’Neal (heart surgery) and the arrival of freshmen Jaime Jaquez and Jake Kyman, who could provide much-needed long-range shooting. UCLA also remains in the running for Cassius Stanley, a highly touted shooting guard from Chatsworth Sierra Canyon High.

A native of Cincinnati who apprenticed as an assistant under Bearcats coach Bob Huggins for five seasons and under Louisville coach Rick Pitino for two seasons, Cronin has spent almost his entire life in the Midwest. He does not have any clear ties to the West Coast.

Cronin possesses a wry sense of humor but also has a reputation as a bit hot-tempered. He had to be ushered away from Xavier guard J.P. Macura by staffers and a game official in December 2017 to avoid a possible confrontation with the player after a game between the Bearcats and the Musketeers. Cronin later said that Macura had uttered an expletive at him three times during and after the game.

The coach reportedly had been in discussions with Cincinnati about a contract extension before coming to UCLA. His contract included a $2.2-million buyout, according to USA Today’s coaching salary database, though it was not immediately clear how the terms of that buyout were satisfied.

While reaction to the hiring was mixed among fans on message boards, several Bruins alumni welcomed Cronin’s arrival on social media.

“Congrats to Mick Cronin on getting the UCLA Job!” former UCLA forward and current Indiana Pacers forward TJ Leaf tweeted. “All of us Bruins are ready to get this thing going again. Let’s get it!"

Saturday, April 6, 2019

UCLA athletic department looks weak in failed pursuit of basketball coach Jamie Dixon

apr 6, 2019 | dylan hernandez | THE L.A. TIMES | ARTICLE LINK
Remove John Wooden’s name from the UCLA campus. Take down the Wooden statue outside Pauley Pavilion. The late coach deserves better than to be associated with such a joke of an athletic department.
How naïve the Bruins were to think a defeat to Liberty last year would mark rock bottom for their signature basketball program.

UCLA could at least blame that loss on Steve Alford, which it did by firing him soon after. And that is what makes the quixotic search for Alford’s permanent replacement worse than any single defeat, that there is no individual who is entirely responsible for this mess — no simple solution. The incompetence is systemic.

In the wake of their apparent inability to land their 20-something-th choice, Jamie Dixon, the Bruins have to confront some uncomfortable realities.

Any remaining delusions about them being a dormant basketball dynasty have been eviscerated. The Pyramid of Success has been flipped upside down. The school’s new guiding philosophy is the Vortex of Failure.

UCLA remains a prisoner of the past, and while athletic director Dan Guerrero and lieutenant Josh Rebholz have the keys to open the cell door, they clearly have no understanding of what they should do once on the outside.

Who knows with whom UCLA will end up as its coach now? Mick Cronin? As with Dixon, he would be a compromise.

Earl Watson? As much support as he has from his fellow ex-Bruins, choosing him would feel too similar to the kind of incestuous decisions that resulted in USC selecting the likes of Pat Haden and Lynn Swann to be its athletic directors.

How humiliating for UCLA. How amateurish.

At the same time, how predictable.

From how the Bruins allowed themselves to be used by John Calipari to how they appear to have lost Dixon over the terms of his buyout with Texas Christian, there is no part of this story that is a shock.

Guerrero botched the basketball program’s previous coaching search by selecting Alford to replace Ben Howland, who had reached the Final Four three times. Little wonder he botched this one too.

In retrospect, the school’s ambitions of making a signature hire are almost laughable. When the Bruins landed Chip Kelly as their football coach, they convinced themselves of what they always wanted to believe — that financial limitations and outdated facilities were the reasons their revenue-generating teams underperformed in recent years. The sponsorship deal with Under Armour and their upgraded facilities were supposed to take them into a new era. Kelly was evidence of that ... or not.

What the Bruins failed to see was that they just happened to satisfy the particular conditions desired by a particular high-profile coach. Kelly’s hiring was more a reflection of Kelly than it was of UCLA.

The Bruins were therefore the last to know what everyone else did: Their reputation was so damaged that they wouldn’t be able to get any of their top choices to seriously consider taking over their basketball program.

They had their millions from Under Armour. They had their new facilities. They had Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers making phone calls on their behalf.

It didn’t make a difference.

This absence of self-awareness explains why the Bruins reached out to coaches they had no chances of landing, one of whom was Calipari.

UCLA had the audacity to offer Calipari a deal that would pay him less than he was making with Kentucky. Predictably, he declined. And, predictably, he leveraged the proposal into what is basically a lifetime contract with Kentucky. If Calipari didn’t do this, one of the other Hail Mary targets would have. And the Bruins would have found themselves in the position they are now, where whomever they end up hiring will be compared to the big-name coach they weren’t able to land.

This was the position Dixon was in when he started to negotiate his move to Westwood.

As it was, Dixon was a hard sell. As a former assistant to Howland at three separate schools, Dixon symbolized a begrudging acceptance on UCLA’s part that Howland’s defensive-minded style of play was something to which to aspire. The message to the Bruin faithful was: You didn’t like Howland’s style? Well, it’s better than whatever we had under Alford.

By offering the position to Calipari, UCLA showed it was prepared to operate outside the boundaries it previously set for itself. Calipari was the same coach who had two of his Final Four appearances vacated, with UMass in 1996 and Memphis in 2008. This was the same coach who during his failed tenure with the New Jersey Nets called a reporter a “Mexican idiot,” which wouldn’t play well in a Latino-heavy market.

The Bruins expanded their candidate pool by relaxing at least some of their standards, and Dixon was the best they could do? If they were OK with Calipari, maybe they should have taken a longer look at Kansas’ Bill Self or Texas Tech’s Chris Beard.

All of this would have been bad enough, so it’s understandable why UCLA didn’t want to pay Dixon’s contractually stipulated $8-million ransom. But if the Bruins had no intention of satisfying the terms of his buyout, they never should have made him their target. They’re now paying a very public price for doing so.

The focus now has to be on minimizing the damage.

UCLA basketball isn’t Wooden’s program any more than the Detroit Tigers are Ty Cobb’s team. That’s over. That dream is dead. UCLA should be mindful of what its basketball program is in danger of becoming, something like Long Beach State’s, only with higher academic standards and a brighter spotlight.

The Bruins saved $8 million by refusing to pay Dixon’s buyout. Unless they can salvage the situation by hiring a coach who can generate excitement, the cost to their athletic department’s reputation could be considerably more.

Jamie Dixon appears to be out as candidate for UCLA basketball coach


UCLA has taken a step backward in its search for a new basketball coach, 96 days after it began the hunt with the highest of hopes.
Jamie Dixon’s candidacy to take over the job apparently ended Friday, only a few days after it had built considerable momentum toward a triumphant homecoming for the North Hollywood native.

Dixon’s $8-million buyout at Texas Christian became an insurmountable sticking point for both sides, according to multiple people close to the situation, with the Horned Frogs unwilling to lower the amount and the Bruins refusing to pay it even after identifying Dixon as their top candidate.

Texas Christian athletic director Jeremiah Donati told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the school did not even enter into negotiations with Dixon regarding the buyout. Meanwhile, Texas Christian chancellor Victor Boschini informed the paper that Dixon had reaffirmed his commitment to remaining at the school he’s built into a winner in his first three seasons.

“None of this matters,” Boschini told the Star-Telegram, “because he’s staying.”

Unless it can salvage the situation at the 11th hour, UCLA stands to suffer an immense fallout from its failure to pay Dixon’s buyout. The school momentarily altered its thrifty image in recent weeks by offering Kentucky coach John Calipari a six-year, $45-million contract, which would have nearly tripled the amount made by UCLA’s Steve Alford before his dismissal in late December. But Calipari rebuffed the Bruins’ overtures in exchange for what amounted to a lifetime contract with the Wildcats.

Donor fatigue may have contributed to the Bruins’ failure to land Dixon. UCLA recently paid $3.6 million to buy out Alford, a little more than a year after having paid roughly $12 million to buy out football coach Jim Mora.

UCLA will now likely have to pivot to either Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, another finalist for the job, or one of its fallback options such as St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett, Texas coach Shaka Smart or former Bruins point guard and onetime Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson.

Another alternative would be for UCLA to enter a holding pattern in hopes that a more high-profile candidate unexpectedly expressed interest. NBA coaches, including the Lakers’ Luke Walton, could become available soon with the regular season ending in less than a week. The Bruins could also make an 11th-hour run at Virginia’s Tony Bennett or Texas Tech’s Chris Beard, both coaches whose teams are in the Final Four.

This UCLA search is taking on a very different feel than the one that landed the school Chip Kelly in late 2017 as its new football coach. That hunt lasted less than a week and yielded the most coveted coach available on the market.

Now it’s likely that the Bruins will have to shift their efforts toward a Plan C.

UCLA had targeted Dixon as its top choice after striking out with a multitude of NBA and elite college coaches who either said they were not interested, failed the school’s background checks or declined to engage in discussions until after the Final Four.

Dixon was a solid but unspectacular choice. He guided the Horned Frogs to a National Invitation Tournament championship in his first season, ended a 20-year NCAA tournament drought in his second season and led his team back to a NIT semifinal this season before losing to Texas.

A disciple of former UCLA coach Ben Howland, Dixon had previously taken Pittsburgh to a regional final in 2009 as well as making two other appearances in a regional semifinal.

Dixon recently hired UCLA associate head coach Duane Broussard, a Texas native who was left in limbo about whether he would need to change residences until Friday.

Should UCLA shift its focus to Cronin, it would be pursuing another coach with good but not overwhelming results. His teams, known for feisty defense, have made it to the NCAA tournament in nine consecutive seasons without advancing past a regional semifinal.

But Cronin’s Bearcats beat UCLA in each of the last two seasons, including a 29-point rout in December, making him a familiar name among Bruins athletic officials and players.

Now those players must contemplate the possibility that he will become their next coach.