When Eric Musselman decided to leave Reno to be the coach at Arkansas, it didn’t take long for rumors to link Steve Alford to Nevada, which would mean a return to the Mountain West for Alford. Now, Nevada has made the move that a lot of people anticipated them making.
In six seasons at New Mexico in Alford’s previous stop in the Mountain West, he won about 75% of his games, winning the regular season title four times and making the NCAA Tournament three times before deciding to bolt for UCLA.
He also had previous stops at Iowa, where he won 58.9% of his games, and Missouri State, where he won 61.9% of his games and made the NCAA Tournament in the last of his four season there.
Alford is most-known for his stint at UCLA though, and the most-known part of that stint was the 2016-17 season where he was the coach of Lonzo Ball and they got up to as high as number two in the nation and started the season 19-1, before being eliminated by Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen when the UCLA defense was torn apart by the Wildcats.
Alford was the coach in Westwood for six seasons, making the NCAA Tournament four different times, but he was unable to ever make it past the Sweet Sixteen, losing at that point in three of his four tournament appearances while roaming the sideline at UCLA.
While at UCLA, Alford recruited at a very high-level, which is something that you should expect out of a coach at UCLA, but it didn’t always lead to consistency on the court. They did make three Sweet Sixteen’s in six seasons and they were ranked at one point in the season during every season while Alford was at UCLA, but they still were never able to really feel like a national title contender and then things completely fell apart this season before he was fired.
This is likely going to be a rebuilding year for Nevada. The Wolfpack were loaded with seniors this past season, which is why it wasn’t surprising that Musselman decided to bolt when he did. Five-star freshman Jordan Brown has also put his name in the transfer portal, so we will have to see if Alford is able to talk him into staying, which would be a huge recruiting battle to win right off the bat.
Overall though, I think Alford can win at Nevada because he’s very familiar with coaching and more importantly recruiting in that region of the country and really he is a better coach than people like to give him credit for because of the way things ended at UCLA.
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