UCLA's Howland Hard Outside, Soft Inside

UCLA's Howland Hard Outside, Soft Inside

The UCLA basketball team is on a roll, showing hints of becoming special, so these days you get happy Ben Howland, the one who smiles and talks easily, even clapping his hands occasionally.

 

"It's good to be winning," he says.

 

The Bruins coach is a man of many faces. When his weekly meeting with reporters ends, time to get back to business, he could instantly become the grinder, the one who feels every second slipping past, every moment an opportunity to practice or watch film or jump on a plane to recruit.

 

That man doesn't smile as much; he might walk right past with only a nod. And if the Bruins start losing, he might turn surly, flashing his famous temper as he lashes out at players and subordinates.

 

Howland means different things to different people, a polarizing figure for much of his decade-long tenure at UCLA. Even as the Bruins reached three straight Final Fours, fans wondered if he was the right fit, and the scrutiny has intensified with his team slipping into mediocrity the last few years.

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