Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 3/30/13
Afterrumored flights to Indiana and even being turned down as far Virginia, UCLAathletics director Dan Guerrero only had to go to New Mexico to get what hedeemed the perfect fit for his program.NewMexico head coach Steve Alford has been hired to the same position at UCLA, theschool announced. Ihave been so fortunate and blessed in my life, and an opportunity to lead oneof the greatest programs in college basketball history is a once-in-a-lifetimesaid Alford in a statement. Its an honor to be the head coach at UCLA, yet,it is also a responsibility to ensure that our former, current and futureplayers and fans are proud to be Bruins.Alfordwill sign a reported seven-year deal worth 2.6 million annually.Alfordspent the last six seasons at New Mexico where he guided the Lobos to threeNCAA tournaments. This past season, the Lobos went 29-6 and were Mountain Westregular season and conference tournament champions before being ousted byHarvard in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Before the start of theNCAA tournament, the school announced he signed a 10-year extension to remainin Albuquerque. Alford can recruit Southern California, which is a facet that was missing in recentyears under Howland. Five players from the Southland were on New Mexico'sroster last season. This includes reigning Mountain West Player of the Year,Kendall Williams, a Los Osos grad, who was once a UCLA commit. His scholarshipwas later pulled by Howland. AlthoughAlford won a national championship playing for Bobby Knight in 1987, he wontbe mistaken for a prototypical Knight disciple. His teams are a bit more freeflowing than his former coach. Lastseason, the Lobos averaged 67.3 points per game, which was good enough for 175th in the country. TheBruins, under Howlands uptempo transformation were 30th in the country inscoring, 74.4 points per contest.Earlierin the search, the Bruins were spurned by two of the hottest young coaches inthe country, Butlers Brad Stevens and VCUs Shaka Smart. Formerassistant and current Washington head coach Lorenzo Romars name was beginningto pick up steam as a possible replacement for Howland. While Romar wasnt apopular choice among Bruins fans, he was with former UCLA players. Instead,its Alford who will be asked to lead the team back into national titlecontention.
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