It's Monday morning, which once again, sadly means a return back to work. But, this Monday is also the first post in our combined Bruin Bites/non-revenue roundup/softball roundup series. For those of you who have been following BN for a while, our Bruin Bites series originally started with a mix-up of everything, including the non-revenue sports, so we're returning it back to our original formula.
In any event, we've got a lot to cover in this Monday morning edition of Bruin Bites, especially with the non-revenue sports in conference tournament action, so let's get right to it and take a look at the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Starting with football news, in the minds of Trogans, the November 17 rivalry matchup against our Bruins at the Rose Bowl is being lumped in with the rest of the home games. The apologists will say it's simply because it's a game in the greater Los Angeles area and U$C wants to get their fans out, but the folks at Larry Brown Sports see it slightly different: a subtle jab at UCLA in light of U$C's dominance on the football field the past decade plus.
- Moving to our own spring practice, Fox Sports' Rahshaun Haylock profiled hard-hitting dynamic Bruin linebacker Eric Kendricks recently, talking to the up-and-coming Bruin defensive star about watching his older brother, Cal stand-out linebacker Mychael Kendricks, get drafted to the NFL as the reward for all of his hard work, a feat Eric hopes to emulate. Good to hear Eric is ready to get out there and make a name for himself.
- But, on the other side of the coin, Kendricks will have to learn to play fast, passionate, hard-hitting, but controlled, as he found himself unnerved and in the middle of a brawl that marred UCLA's practice and infuriated Coach Jim Mora. As WWL's Peter Yoon reported, Mora isn't playing around, climbing on the backs of the players the most culpable, especially offensive lineman Al Cid, who threw a punch during the melee (which isn't a shock since he managed to get suspended for his role in the embarrassing Debacle in the Desert).
- Now that he's back and eligible, defensive lineman Brandon Willis is doing everything he can to start from the first game against Rice. So far, he's been the top dog in the competition to grab the starting job at nose tackle, at least until fall camp when the coaches will have a chance to see what top defensive line recruit Ellis McCarthy can do. But for now, it's a great story to see Willis in the mix after missing two years due to difficult family circumstances.
- In non-revenue action, the #2-ranked men's golf team struggled down the stretch after taking the lead in the opening round, finishing fourth in the Pac-12 conference tournament in Corvallis. The Bruins came up five shots short of eventual champion Cal, with Oregon and U$C finishing ahead of the Bruins. Super sophomore Patrick Cantlay wasn't able to dominate, coming in fifth individually, finishing five shots behind individual leader Andrew Yun of Stanford.
- Things weren't much better for the #1-ranked women's golf team, as they struggled to assert their authority in Pullman, finishing fourth at the Pac-12 conference tournament. In an eerily similar repeat of the men's tournament, Cal finished on top, with UCLA finishing in fourth (although the ladies came up just four shots short of Cal).
- In Ojai, the #5-ranked men's tennis team made it to the Pac-12 tournament final to face off against cross-town rival U$C, hoping to repeat last week's shock upset of the #1-ranked Trojans. Sadly, the Bruins came up short, falling to U$C, 4-2, with only Clay Thompson and Dennis Mkrtchian able to record victories for the Blue and Gold. UCLA will head to NCAA regionals (which Westwood is likely to host) at 22-3 on the season.
- In softball news, the #14-ranked Bruins did not have a good weekend taking on #1-ranked Cal in Berkeley, getting swept in three straight games. On Friday, ace Jessica Hall pitched a gem for UCLA, notching 11 strikeouts while only giving up 3 hits and 2 earned runs, but it wasn't enough as UCLA's offense was shut down, losing 3-0. Saturday wasn't much better: Hall again pitched a strong game for UCLA, putting 10 away by strike out in 4 and 1/3 innings, but once again UCLA couldn't put anything together offensively, getting put down by the mercy rule after six innings, 8-0. On Sunday, the Bruins were finally able to score a few runs, on the strength of homers by Andrea Harrison (1-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR) and Katie Schroeder (2-3, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR), but Jessica Hall got lit up early, surrendering 7 runs in just 1 inning of work, leading the Bruins to once again fall to Cal to complete the weekend sweep, 10-3.
- But don't despair UCLA fans, it wasn't all bad news for the non-revenue sports. UCLA's #2-seeded women's water polo team advanced to the MPSF conference tournament final, taking on host and #1-seeded Stanford on Sunday. The Cardinal entered the match on the back of a 37-home game winning streak that stretched back to 2009. None of that mattered to the Lady Bruins, who fought a tight game at Stanford, winning it in overtime when KK Clark scored the winner with just 46 seconds left in the first overtime. The Bruins' defense held on tight, with 'keeper Caitlin Dement notching a game total 12 saves, to give the Bruins a 8-7 win, the MPSF conference title and an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament, being hosted by San Diego State. Becca Dorst notched a hat trick, while KK Clark and Sarah Orozco each grabbed a brace in the tournament final.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get the week started. Fire away with your thoughts, opinions, and takes in the comment threads.