Bumped. Football season is going ahead full steam. Ben Ball just two weeks away and don't look now baseball is also around the corner. Life is good in Bruin Nation. GO BRUINS. - N
Kendall Rogers from Rivals.com, who does a great job, did a great feature on UCLA today and took a look at the disappointment of last season, the impact of the new coaches and what's ahead for the Bruins in 2009.
First, what happened last year:
Failing to finish the season ranked after being a national title contender is not something most clubs want to talk about. The Bruins, however, are different. Sure, they're disappointed about how last season ended. However, they're more motivated than ever and they don't mind talking about it.
"We didn't get to Omaha, and that's the bottom line," UCLA coach John Savage told Rivals.com. "Last season was supposed to be our Omaha year, and the expectations certainly were there. I'm just disappointed we didn't get there."
"We lost some good players, but I really think what happened last season gives our guys a little more motivation," Savage said. "I think the tone of this program is set, and we certainly expect to be in Omaha at the end of the year."
I've talked to a few guys and I also got the impression that they're using last season and motivation. I thought the club would be down after last year's disappointment, but they're more concerned with making sure they never have the same feeling that they had in Fullerton again. Even the freshmen who weren't there last year got a little talk about what last year was like and some of the things that won't be tolerated in the program anymore.
Savage and the Bruins put the new attitude into action this summer. Instead of sitting back and sulking about what could've been, they went out and made a blockbuster addition by bringing in Vanderhook, who was a heralded long-time assistant at Cal State Fullerton. Vanderhook helped the Titans to a pair of national titles in his 21 seasons with the program. He's also a hard-nosed coach, which is exactly what UCLA needs.
"Vanderhook is all about hard work but also is about having fun out there as well," said UCLA veteran Casey Haerther, who hit .324 with 12 homers and 52 RBIs last season. "His resume alone is great and he's kind of like us, he feels there's no better place to be than on a baseball field."
I believe I mentioned this here when I first mentioned Vanderhook's hiring, but I could not agree more with what Kendall said. Vanderhook has the pedigree and a great resume, but hes also a perfect fit for this coaching staff and this team. He's a tough guy who will push these players like they haven't been pushed in recent years and the team will be better for it.
The Bruins are taking a great attitude into this season and figure if they can go from national title contender to unranked last season, why can't they go from unranked to national title contender this year?
"We're more excited than ever right now," Savage said. "Sure, we have some hurdles to jump before we can be a contender, but every team currently has a hurdle."
"We learned a valuable lesson last season."