A happy Monday to everyone. Hope most of you are enjoying a day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. UCLA's Volunteer center is partnering up with the City Year Los Angeles for "a powerful day of service" to "honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Full details are available here. UCLA is a historic campus and not surprisingly Dr. King paid a visit to Westwood to inspire thousands of students, alumni, faculty and staff - Bruins - back in 1965.
Now on to our bread and butter - athletics. It was a mixed weekend. Let's start with the good stuff. It's been fun following UCLA football recruiting as Coach Jim Mora and his staff look to finish strong, as we race towards the NSD. The weekend was an awesome one as the Bruins picked up commitments from two elite DBs - Johnny Johnson and Tyler Foreman - while looking to add more in the coming days.
As for the bad - well we saw another ugly implosion of Ben Howland's dumpster fire inside Pauley Under Glass. But I think it's safe to say none of us are all that shook up about it because at this point we don't really care all that much about the performance of the team until a new coach (and a new athletic director is in place). If these were normal circumstances, we'd feel the same crushing heartbreak and agony we felt after the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford in Palo Alto. But given how we pretty much knew that 10 game "winning streak" was just as "meaningful" as Karl Dorrell's 10 win season, none of us are all that worked up over it. We knew all along that 10 game win streak was built on ugly, sloppy, unwatchable performances against bunch of cupcakes, below average Pac-12 teams, and overhyped Missouri team, which is now getting exposed by quality teams.
So just like we were during the closing months of Bob Toledo, Steve Lavin, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel, in terms of on-field performance we are mostly numb when it comes to UCLA basketball. We appreciate the effort kids like Kyle Anderson and Norman Powell are putting on the court, but in the big picture - we are just waiting for the nightmare to mercifully end. Sure, the Bruins have a "big" game on Thursday night against Arizona in Tucson. But, not sure how much of it really matters.
It's a good Arizona team, but they are not the great ones, Bruins had classic battles dating back to Jim Harrick era in Westwood. This is an Arizona squad that was lucky to beat what is turning out to be a below average Colorado team at home and it also had to struggle to beat Utah. Utah! Still, if the Bruins manage to beat Arizona, it could keep hopes of winning the conference alive. If I have it right, since 1988, UCLA has never won the Pac-10 conference without beating Arizona in Tucson. So keep that in mind heading into Thursday night. Anyway, MEH.
Other notes of interest:
- It has been awesome to have the Big Red-head back for broadcast of our games. Sure he is goofy at times and comes with all the classic Walton quirks of hyperboles. I don't agree with all his analysis, but if you listen to him closely, it's not that difficult to discern the deep frustration he is experiencing and expressing about the status of Coach's program. It's pretty clear that Howland has failed miserably last four years in taking care of Coach's program and it's refreshing to hear Walton be candid about it. And, it's also good to know the Waltons are part of the BN community - never settling for low standards when it comes to UCLA basketball. If you don't believe me, just check out the following tweet from Mrs. Walton after the Oregon State game last week:
UCLA won but did not impress!! bruinsnation.com/ucla_basketbal…— lori M walton (@loriMwalton) January 18, 2013
- Speaking of standards, ESPN's Ted Miller posted his UCLA season review for 2012. He gave the Bruins a "B" which sounds about right to us. It was a "good" but not really a great year for Mora in Westwood. Here is to a great one in Year 2.
- Staying with football, looks like Mark Helfrich hire at Oregon is going to be official this week. It should be interesting. I don't think the Ducks are going to drop off next year or the year after. The question is what is going to happen three or four years from now.
- In non-revenue sports, 5th ranked men's volleyball team went up the 101 and got back into the win column on Friday night by taking care of 8th ranked UCSB. Per the official site set scores were 21-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19. The win was UCLA's second against UCSB this month. The Bruins are now 6-3 overall, 2-1 in MPSF play. Bruins head up to the Farm tomorrow for a 7 p.m. MPSF showdown on the Pac-12 Networks.
- Hopefully the men's volleyball team road trip to the Bay Area goes better than the one by women's basketball team. It was an ugly weekend for 14th ranked UCLA women's basketball as they first got destroyed by 6th ranked Stanford on Thursday night, and followed it up with another road loss to Cal. I have heard nice things about the program under Cori Close but what happened in the Bay Area, sounds like the same old, same old - pre Nikki Caldwell. I don't know why it's so difficult for UCLA to put together an elite women's basketball program. It doesn't make any sense.
Lastly, about those Niners - boy I have never been so happy to be wrong. Niners are I believe 5 point favorites against John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens. I am surprised by that given how the Ravens have been playing on the road last few weeks. The physicality of their defense could give the Niners problems in the same way Giants have done in it in last year. But then again these Niners - led by Colin Kaepernick seem have that something special.
With recruiting and the Super Bowl, it should be fun two weeks and will help wash away the toxicity from Chianti Dan's basketball program.