LAS VEGAS — Most coaches merely remove their coat when they're aggravated by a call that went against their team.
Ben Howland went a bit further.
Upset with a charging call assessed to Shabazz Muhammad late in the first half of UCLA's 78-69 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, Howland let his frustration get the best of him. In a fit of fury out of character for a coach normally very composed on the sideline, Howland angrily did a pirouette, removed his jacket and flung it several rows into the stands behind UCLA's bench.
The jacket toss earned Howland a technical foul, the first one he has received during his 10-year UCLA tenure. And unlike Arizona coach Sean Miller the previous night, Howland not only acknowledged he deserved the technical but apologized for his actions.
"I was very embarrassed by that to lose my composure," Howland said. "It's a terrible example for our team to have their coach behave in such a manner. We're always going to have bad calls. I definitely thought that wasn't a call that was called correctly, but you're going to have calls like that.
"I told the team at halftime and after the game that that was a terrible example for them. We have to play through adversity. We've done a great job all season long with all sorts of adversity. That was really, really poor, and I deserved a technical foul. I behaved poorly, and I'm embarrassed by it."
It's tough to blame Howland for showing some frustration at the end of what has surely been an exasperating season.
Howland was already under fire even before UCLA lost to Cal Poly in November and had former starters Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb transfer. The speculation about his job security has persisted even after the Bruins won the outright Pac-12 title and advanced to the conference tournament title game this week. And then Friday night, UCLA suffered another major blow, losing standout freshman Jordan Adams to a season-ending broken right foot.
Perhaps all of that played a role in Howland showing an unusual amount of emotion on the sideline during UCLA's Pac-12 tournament run. In addition to the technical foul he also met his team at mid-court several times, clapping and offering encouragement whether they were playing well or not.
With a freshman-heavy team, he'll probably repeat that in the NCAA tournament next week. Don't count on another jacket toss anytime soon though.
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- Ben Howland