Monday Morning Coffee Break-Men's Basketball

We discuss Ben Howland and what he would bring to the Mississippi State men's basketball program if he winds up being the next head coach.


The strong rumor among media is that former UCLA head basketball coach Ben Howland is the front-runner for the Mississippi State head basketball coaching position. If that happens, what would he bring to the MSU basketball program?

The first thing that stands out about him is he is a winner. Everywhere that he has been a head coach (Northern Arizona, Pittsburgh, UCLA) he has won and won big. In 19 seasons as a head coach, he has had winning seasons in 14. He has won 21 or more games in eleven seasons and 25 or more games in seven. Ten of his nineteen teams appeared in the NCAA Tournament with five making it to at least the Sweet 16. Three of those five made it to the Final Four with one of those being the national runner-up.

To go even further into his coaching resume, if you take away the first two years at each of his three coaching stops, he has taken 9 of his 13 teams to the NCAA Tournament. Two of those teams advanced to the Sweet 16 and three others advanced to at least the Final Four.

He has won either a conference divisional title or an overall conference title in 8 of his 19 seasons, including championships when he was at UCLA (Pac-12) and Pittsburgh (Big East). He also finished 2nd three other times.

He has also produced a large number of NBA players. During his 19 seasons as a head coach, he has sent 21 players to the NBA, including 3 centers, 7 forwards and 11 guards.

Of those 21 players, four declared for the NBA after their freshman seasons while four others declared after their sophomore seasons. This aspect of his resume, in addition to sending 11 guards to the NBA, might help Mississippi State's recruitment of class of 2015 guard Malik Newman, a player who has the potential to be a one and done type signee.

As for his offensive and defensive styles of play, his teams play a slow down type offense and a lock-down man-on-man defense. At UCLA, his teams normally scored in the high 60s to low 70s while allowing opposing teams to score in the high 50s and low 60s.

There are a couple of question marks when it comes to possibly coaching at Mississippi State. The first is related to his last four seasons at UCLA when 11 of his players left the program during that period. The second is how well will he be able to recruit in the south, an area that he has never recruited.

Obviously, he has an outstanding resume. Now the MSU nation waits to see if that resume will have Mississippi State included on it.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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