Steve Alford outpacing the skeptics

Steve Alford has answered a lot of the public skepticism that surrounded his hire. Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- I know all about the lone Sweet 16 appearance, those who call him arrogant, and those who questioned whether he could recruit at a high enough level to put UCLA back on the national map.

Steve Alford will win at UCLA. I said it when he was hired, and I’ll say it again.

Will he win a title? I’m not ready to go that far, but he’ll make UCLA nationally relevant again and will consistently compete for Pac-12 titles.

UCLA blew a road game at Missouri earlier in the month, and played poorly again in the second half Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in a loss to Duke. The Bruins may drop out of the Top 25 after the most recent setback.

But it could have been worse. Much, much worse