We've finally reached the end of the 2011-12 athletic year for UCLA, with only a couple of our non-revenue sports still in action (baseball, men's golf, track-and-field), and so far, it's looking like another sub-par year for UCLA, with only the women's volleyball team able to bring a NCAA national title home to Westwood.
While the men's golf team is in a strong position (currently fourth after the first round of stroke play at the NCAA championship tournament, being played in Los Angeles) to challenge for UCLA's 109th NCAA national title, unless Savage's baseball squad can put together an improbable run deep into Omaha, it looks increasingly likely that another year will pass without UCLA bringing home a NCAA men's national title. As Nestor pointed out earlier this week, no men's program has won it all since 2008, which at first blush doesn't seem so bad, until you compare Chianti Dan's decade of mediocrity (5 men's titles) to the preceding decade (11 men's titles). Of course, when you look at the winning percentage of our men's programs, it's pretty sad the way UCLA has slid toward irrelevance under Chianti Dan's "leadership."
In any event, let's take a look at how our non-revenue programs performed during the 2011-12 athletic year:
- Starting with baseball, thanks to Coach Savage (who UCLA will likely lose to a big-time program since Chianti Dan and his moronic drones at the Morgan Center have offered little-to-no-support for the baseball program), the Bruins find themselves looking strong as the #2-overall national seed, getting ready to march toward Omaha as the host of the Los Angeles Regional. Despite the high-seed, the Bruins have a tough regional draw to make it through, giving UCLA a pretty tough road to a NCAA title.
- Moving on to the cross-country team, it was a middling year, one that passed without any real distinction (in other words, par-for-the-course for Chianti Dan's Morgan Center). The Bruins went to the Pac-12 championships, with the men finishing in 4th, while the women struggled, finishing in 10th. The NCAA western regional wasn't much better, with the men coming in tied for 6th, while the women placed a lowly-18th, leading the Bruins to miss out on the NCAA championship. End result? No NCAA title.
- As mentioned above, super sophomore Patrick Cantlay and the men's golf team find themselves tied for 4th place with Oklahoma at +5 strokes, trailing pace-setters Alabama by four shots, after the opening round of stroke play at the NCAA championship tournament, being held at La Riviera Country Club here in Los Angeles. As it stands, this is UCLA's best shot at picking up UCLA's 109th NCAA national title and the first Bruin men's championship since 2008.
- As for the female counterparts on the links, the #1-ranked and defending national champion women's golf team went into the NCAA tournament fresh on the strength of finishing top of the NCAA West Regional. Too bad their hot streak ended in Colorado, as the ladies struggled to mount a realistic challenge to defending their crown, finishing in 8th overall at the NCAA championship tournament in Tennessee. End result? No NCAA title.
- On the strength of Kelyn Rowe's midfield magic and Chandler Hoffman's goal-scoring prowess, the Bruins made a deep run in December, before falling to North Carolina in heart-breaking fashion, losing in penalty kicks after twice taking the lead against the eventual national champions. Most damaging for UCLA is that Rowe and Chandler are now plying their trade in MLS, forcing the Bruins to reconfigure their line-up next year if they are to replicate this year's deep run. End result? No NCAA title.
- As for the women's soccer team, despite being pegged for a deep NCAA tournament run, the ladies headed home prematurely, getting upset in the second-round at Drake Stadium by San Diego, falling in penalty kicks after failing to put the Toreros down when given the opportunity. End result? No NCAA title.
- Turning to men's tennis, the Bruins made a strong run at the NCAA title, but ultimately came up short, losing not only in the Pac-12 championship to #1-ranked, hated cross-town rival U$C, but also falling to the Trojans in the NCAA semi-final, 4-1. So close, yet so far: no NCAA title.
- The #1-ranked women's tennis team looked like they'd grab UCLA's 109th NCAA national title after running off an impressive 26-2 record on the year, heading into the NCAA national title game against #2-ranked Florida. But once again, the Gators curse bit the Bruins, and UCLA, which looked invincible for most of the year, got swept in the title game, losing to Florida, 4-0. So despite being the favorites, no NCAA title.
- Turning to our track and field teams, the school that produced Rafer Johnson and Jackie Joyner-Kersee hasn't fared very well of late (the last men's title came in 1988, the last women's title in 2004); currently, the men's team wrapped up action in NCAA preliminaries, after coming in 4th overall at the Pac-12 championships in Eugene. On the women's side, the ladies also find themselves fresh off of NCAA preliminaries, after finishing in 8th place in the Pac-12 championships.
- For Coach Al Scates, this year marked his 50th and final year in charge in Westwood, in a stellar career that brought the Bruins 19 NCAA national titles. Sadly, this year's squad couldn't send the legend out on a high note, getting eliminated by UC Irvine in the MPSF tournament quarterfinals. In a disappointing blow, Coach Al Scates did not get his 20th NCAA title before hanging it up.
- As for the women's volleyball team, the Lady Bruins have been the only bright spot in Westwood this year, making a strong run in December, led by outstanding junior Rachael Kidder, culminating in the Bruins' 3-1 defeat of Illinois to capture UCLA's 108th NCAA national title. So far, the ladies have been the only Blue and Gold squad to taste the ultimate NCAA reward this year.
- As for the #2-ranked men's water polo team, the Bruins came agonizing close to grabbing another NCAA title for Westwood, but fell short in the NCAA championship match, losing to #1-ranked U$C, 7-4. With the loss, not only did the Bruins not pick up a NCAA title, but the Trojans were able to pick up a title and take a step toward closing the NCAA title gap.
- The spring wasn't much better for the #2-ranked women's water polo team, as they made a deep post-season run, but ultimately came up short, and like their male counterparts, eliminated at the hands of the hated #3-ranked U$C Trojans. The Bruins got dropped in a tight semi-final match, 12-10, leaving UCLA unable to grab its 109th NCAA national title.
- As for the ladies of the swimming and diving team, the ladies earned a trip to the NCAA championships, but came up well short of the prize, finishing in a tie for 37th place. Another year, and yet, no NCAA title. Rather, that reward went to our rival UC institution, Cal.
- For the top-ranked gymnastics team, this season was supposed to be able redemption for coming up just short to Alabama in last year's NCAA championship round. Instead, this year ended the same way as last year, with the Bruins finishing one-tenth of a point behind the Crimson Tide, who claimed back-to-back NCAA national titles
- Flipping over to the women's rowing team, the ladies put together a strong season, but it ultimately wasn't enough, as UCLA came up short in this past weekend's NCAA championships in New Jersey, with the ladies finishing 8th overall. Solid season, but in the end, no NCAA title.
- Women's basketball struggled to find rhythm under first-year head coach Cori Close, who had the tall task of replacing Coach Nikki Caldwell, all while playing with an injury-depleted roster. Thus, it was no surprise when the ladies fell short, losing in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament to Arizona, 57-61, putting a sad end to a season that came up well short of expectation at 14-16 overall.
- Finally, the softball program, once a pinnacle of dominating success, came up woefully short, getting eliminated in short-order in the NCAA regional that UCLA was hosting at Easton Stadium. The Bruins dropped two straight games, first to Hofstra, then to Florida State, to bring their season to a premature end at the regional. All-in-all, a fitting end for a squad racked by inconsistency, with only a few players able to consistently perform for UCLA.
Alright folks, that's how your non-revenue sports fared during the 2011-12 athletic year. Feel free to fire away with your thoughts, takes, or general thoughts about the overall decline of UCLA athletics under Chianti Dan's reign of error, in what is quickly shaping up to be a lost decade of mediocrity for UCLA athletics (all thanks to our moronic athletic "director").
Let's hope that men's golf or the baseball team can bring us a surprise and UCLA its 109th NCAA national title. Otherwise, we'll be forced to wait until the 2012-13 athletic year kicks off in the fall.