It's Monday morning, which sadly means the weekend is over (and we were robbed of an hour of that precious weekend enjoyment too!) and it's back to the grind; it also marks my return from my sabbatical to return to regularly posting this Monday morning regular Bruin Bites post. So, what did I miss? Well, Ben Howland has managed to take the top recruiting class in the nation and back into the regular season conference title. Hey, it's not everyday that the most talented team in America's weakest major conference needs to follow the Rick Neuheisel plan to winning conference titles: backing into it thanks to others' help. So, to my feathered friends from Oregon, thanks for choking in Salt Lake City! And, of course, with the laughable conference title (which should have been a run-away, not-even-close contest with UCLA's talent) in hand, the Howlers are sure to come out in full force (now, I'm remembering why I was on vacation). So, with that, let's get right to it and take a look at at the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Beginning with football (because it's certainly more enjoyable than watching Howland flail away in the final act of his tenure in Westwood), the folks at Rant Sports have projected our own one-man wrecking ball, OLB Anthony Barr, as the favorite to land the 2013 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award. On one hand, you have to be excited to see what Barr can do to terrorize opponents next season, given that last year was his first defensive season in college. On the other hand, opponents know all about him, so don't be surprised to see more blocking schemes designed to shut him down, which should hopefully free up Kendricks, Zumwalt, Marsh, and some of the other big hitters along our front seven.
- Turning to football's no-pads, kind-of-insane, cousin, the UCLA men's rugby team (unfortunately, not a NCAA varsity team for the Bruins . . . thanks Title IX!) picked up a big win over Utah this past week, moving into a tie with the Utes for second place behind undefeated Cal (of course).
- Flipping over to the non-contact world, the #2-ranked men's tennis team put Baylor down on Sunday in Waco, winning 6-1. Despite surrendering the doubles point, the UCLA men stormed back on the singles' action, earning a clean singles' sweep, with Dennis Novikov, Marcos Giron, Adrien Puget, Dennis Mkrtchian, Clay Thompson, and Karue Sell all beating their Bear opponent. With the win, the Bruins move to 13-1 on the season.
- On the softball front, the #9-ranked Lady Bruins picked up a nice double-header pair of victories on Sunday, starting with a three-run seventh-inning comeback to beat UNLV, 4-3. Ally Carda (7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 K, 1 BB) picked up the complete game victory to improve to 13-2 on the season, and got the offensive help from B.B. Bates (2-4, 1 R, 2 RBI), Brittany Moeai (1-4, 1 RBI), and Britney Rodriguez (1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR).
- The ladies were back in action right after the UNLV, this time against Charleston Southern. Unlike the first game of the day, this one wasn't close, as the Lady Bruins put the beat down on Charleston Southern, winning by virtue of the mercy rule after putting up 10 runs in just four innings at the plate, notching a clean 10-0 win. Jessica Hall (5.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 K) went the full five for the victory to improve to 4-2, but more importantly, kept Charleston Southern blanked, throwing a complete game no-hitter. Backing up Hall's no-hitter at the plate was, once again, Rodriguez (1-3, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 HR), who blasted her second collegiate homer, while Bates (2-3, 2 R, 1 RBI) had another solid game, joined by Gracie Goulder (2-3, 2 R, 1 RBI), Ally Carda (2-2, 1 R, 1 RBI), and Stephany LaRosa (1-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR). With the pair of wins, the Bruins improved to 22-4 on the season.
- Turning back to men's action, the #6-ranked men's volleyball team upset #4-ranked Stanford in three straight sets on Sunday at the Wooden Center, winning 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 29-27). Leading the Bruins were Robart Page (15 kills, 2 digs), Gonzalo Quiroga (9 kills, 5 digs), and Clayton Paullin (9 kills). Steve O'Dell set the pace with 35 assists, and with the win, the Bruins improve to 13-9 overall and 9-7 in conference play.
- In our last bit of sports news, the #4-ranked women's water polo team dropped #7-ranked San Diego State on Sunday, 9-5. The Lady Bruins were led by Alexa Tielmann and Alys Williams' braces, with five other Bruins scoring to bring UCLA's total up to 9. In the net, Sami Hill came up with 10 big saves to deny the Aztecs, and with the win, the Bruins improve to 18-3 on the season.
- Finally, turning to non-athletic campus news, this past Friday, UCLA student Paul Meyer was arrested by campus police for allegedly choking a female following a party at the UCLA Theta Chi house. By the end of the weekend, Meyer had posted bail and was released on bond from custody. Meyer was taken into custody at the fraternity house on charges of attempted murder, which campus authorities later changed to false imprisonment and assault with intent to commit rape. The latter is a strike offense under California's "Three Strikes" law. At this time, Meyer is presumed innocent and all charges are simply allegations pending adjudication.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to start the work week with. Fire away with your thoughts, takes, and additions in the comments thread.