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November 22, 2014

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UCLA hires New Mexico’s Alford as new basketball coach

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

New Mexico coach Steve Alford reacts to a call during their game against UNLV Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 at The Pit in Albuquerque. New Mexico won the game 65-60.

LOS ANGELES — UCLA hired Steve Alford as basketball coach on Saturday, luring him from New Mexico days after he signed a new 10-year deal with the Lobos.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said Alford is "the perfect fit for UCLA" because he connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented style of play to Westwood.

The 48-year-old coach succeeds Ben Howland, who was fired last weekend after 10 years and a 233-107 record that included three consecutive Final Four appearances and four Pac-12 titles. The Bruins were 25-10 this season, which ended with a 20-point loss to Minnesota in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Alford led New Mexico to a 29-6 record this season that included the Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles. But the Lobos were upset by Harvard in the second round of the NCAAs shortly after Alford's new deal with the school had been announced.

Alford will be introduced at UCLA on Tuesday.

"I have been so fortunate and blessed in my life, and an opportunity to lead one of the greatest programs in college basketball history is once-in-a-lifetime," he said in a statement.

Alford had a 155-52 record in six years at New Mexico, with the Lobos making three trips to the NCAA tournament. He was selected Mountain West coach of the year three times.

His other head coaching stints were at Iowa (2000-07), Missouri State (1996-99) and Manchester College (1992-95) in his native Indiana.

Alford is a legend in the Hoosier state, where he starred at Indiana University from 1984-87 under coach Bob Knight. The Hoosiers won the national championship in his senior year. He also played on the gold medal-winning 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team in Los Angeles as a college sophomore. Knight coached that team.

Alford was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1987 and played four years in the NBA before starting his head coaching career at tiny Manchester.

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  1. "UCLA hired Steve Alford as basketball coach on Saturday, luring him from New Mexico days after he signed a new 10-year deal with the Lobos."

    What a nice lesson to teach young people about commitment!

  2. Heyyyy, Maybe New Mexico will steal Dave Rice from UNLV ,, nawww, they need a head coach not an assistant in over his head.

  3. Are you guys nuts? Who wouldn't give up 10 yrs in New Mexico for at least 2 yrs in Los Angeles with a legendary program...?! LMFAO, now I know y'all are crazy!

    As far as commitment is concerned, players bail programs early to go to the NBA so they can improve their lives & careers, why shouldn't a coach do the same? That comment made me laugh...

  4. Alford had just signed a contract renewal with UNM. His decision shows lack of respect, lack of commitment, and lack of integrity. If that makes you laugh, that's an indicator of your character as well.

  5. Reza - yes, that makes me laugh. What would've happened if...

    Nick Saban didn't leave the University of Toledo? (No National champs for LSU/Alabama)

    Jimmy Johnson didn't leave Oklahoma State for Miami, then the Cowboys? (No Super Bowls)

    Kareem stayed in Milwaukee. (No championships with the Lakers)

    Some people want to leave and step up to a major market/team. They want the spotlight, the challenge, the pressure. They should be congratulated for wanting to take on a task like that. If they succeed, great. If not, so what? At least they tried and didn't leave anything on the table.

    Yes, I find it hilarious that people think it's better to stay 10 yrs in a crappy place like New Mexico, instead of moving to Los Angeles and legendary UCLA?! LMFAO....yes, it's that funny.

    If that's an indicator of my character, so be it.....go hard or go home. I can tell by your posts that you'd rather play it safe and be satisfied with mediocrity. Why take any chances? LMAO