Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ben Howland needs to do more than just cut ties with Reeves Nelson

Reeves Nelson is suspended again.

Or kicked off the team, depending on who you listen to.

"This continues a trend of very disappointing behavior by Reeves," Howland said in a statement announcing an indefinite suspension that was handed down to Nelson Tuesday afternoon for conduct unbecoming of a Bruin. "I personally have worked hard with him to illustrate the importance of the code of conduct for our student-athletes, as well as the ramifications for violating it. I am disappointed that he has continued to fall short of my expectations."

But if you listen to Tracy Pierson of Bruins Report Online, Nelson has already been kicked off the team. His report prompted the statement from Howland. Pierson, for what its worth, is as plugged in to the UCLA program as anyone.

If Nelson only is suspended, than Howland needs to do the right thing and kick Nelson off of the team. At this point, any talent that he has and any production that he provides is completely out weighed by the distraction that he is creating.

Its like when you've reached the point in a relationship with a significant other where, no matter what you two do, the day ends up in a fight. The constant bitterness never allows you to have any fun. At that point, its time to break it off.

And for Howland, its time to break off the relationship between UCLA and Nelson. Nelson was suspended twice already this season and then benched for the second half of UCLA's loss to Texas.

While he's at it, he should probably put Josh Smith on notice. That young man's weight is a problem. It keeps him off the floor and keeps him from being the player that he is capable of being. Nelson may be a distraction, but Smith is doing just as much damage to the team by ignoring the fact that he needs to lose weight.

Ben Howland has a lot to do if he wants to rebuild UCLA. The biggest need is probably patching up his relationship with AAU programs like the Cali Supreme and the Oakland Soldiers. Why do you think he had to hire an AAU coach from Atlanta to his staff? All his Southern California players come from Double Pump Elite -- and most of his kids are from the Pump-n-Run programs across the country, all run by the Pump Brothers -- and it should be obvious that talent isn't cutting it right now.

But for now, the least Howland can do is to try and get control of the players in his program. Until then, UCLA doesn't even look like a team that deserves a trip to the NIT.

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