“There is no better coach than Steve Alford to continue the rise of Nevada basketball and we are excited for the next chapter,” AD Doug Knuth said in a relase. “To get a leader of Coach Alford’s caliber is a testament to the support of our community and our University. There is a great tradition of Wolf Pack basketball and the future is even brighter.”
Though known for his inability to get UCLA “over the hump” in the NCAA Tournament, Alford has actually had a long and successful career as a head coach. He went to four NCAA Tournaments (three Sweet Sixteens) in his five full seasons with the Bruins, but was fired mid-way through year six. Many programs would be overjoyed with that level of success but at UCLA – especially after going 28-3 in the 2016-17 regular season – fans and boosters want more.
Prior to his arrival in Westwood, Alford spent six years coaching at New Mexico. He now returns to the Mountain West, a conference he won four times with the Lobos. He was also named the conference’s coach of the year three times.
“To be able to continue my career in a tight-knit community that has demonstrated its support for the basketball program is exactly the opportunity that Tanya and I were looking for, and we are thrilled to be in Northern Nevada,” Alford said. “I can’t wait to get to work as we look to build off the established tradition and momentum of this great program. I want this to be the last stop of my coaching career.”
Alford’s task is to build upon the success of Eric Musselman, who left for Arkansas last week after four incredibly successful years with the Wolfpack. Nevada won the last three MWC titles and have been in the AP Poll since last February (as high as #5 at one point).
In addition to the three graduating stars (Jordan Caroline, Cody and Caleb Martin), recent reports suggest a potential exodus in Reno: Five players, headlined by former five-star recruit Jordan Brown and rising senior Jazz Johnson, have already entered the NCAA transfer portal. Though entering the portal doesn’t guarantee a transfer, all five guys will certainly get interest from across the country. Especially Brown, the McDonald’s All-American who picked Nevada over a number of college basketball powerhouses (including Alford’s UCLA Bruins).
credit to Sean M. Haffey/Getty for the photo