It's Monday morning and while one of our squads (women's water polo) was unable to bring Westwood its 109th NCAA national championship, the Bruin faithful can get another week started with the hope that one (or two) of the remaining teams in action can make the magical run that will lead to another UCLA national title. Let's get right to this week's early week bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Beginning with football (of course), former UCLA linebacker Damien Holmes, who found his groove as a LB in Jim Mora and Lou Spanos' 3-4 defense (after spending uneventful years as a DE in Neuheisel's 4-3 defense), got an invite to the Denver Broncos' mini-camp and left it with a contract offer and a roster spot as a Bronco, where he'll join his former defensive teammate, Rahim Moore. Congrats to Damien for making the cut!
- Sticking with football, Damien's former teammate, Datone Jones is gearing up to help the Packers shut down the San Francisco 49ers and their read-option featuring Colin Kaepernick. Jones, who has plenty of experience operating against read-option defenses (having practiced against UCLA's own read-option pistol scheme while in Westwood, and having faced read-option teams like Nebraska) is Green Bay's hope to contain San Francisco, which ran all over Green Bay en route to the Super Bowl. I'll be rooting for Datone all season long, except for when Green Bay faces the Niners in the season opener on Sept. 8. Sorry Datone.
- Switching over to hoops, UCLA recruit Zach LaVine was the feature in The Seattle Times write-up of the inaugral West Coast All-Star Classic. LaVine led his West squad to a narrow 123-121 victory over the East squad (if it's a West Coast game, how far is the East team? Utah? Colorado?).
- Flipping over to the academic side of the university, while Gene Block is too busy letting absolutely owned by Southern Cal, UCLA instead is coming up with cutting edge research that tells us that . . . wait for it . . . Subway is slightly less unhealthy than McDonald's. While the execs at the Golden Arches are surely pleased with this revelation from UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine, it's pretty pathetic that this is the kind of high-powered academics we're seeing from Block's prized asset. Heckuva job you're doing Gene .
- Turning to our non-revenue sports, the #3-seeded women's water polo made it to the Final Four, where their season ran into the wall known as #2-seeded Stanford. Despite falling behind in the first half, the Lady Bruins made a strong fight in the second half, but came up short, losing 5-3. Emily Donohoe led the Bruins with a brace and Sami Hill notched 11 saves, but it wasn't enough as the Cardinal advance (again). Instead, the Bruins turned to the third-place game on Sunday, where they bounced back with a strong 13-8 victory over #6-seeded Hawaii to grab third place. In the high-scoring consolation match, Rachel Fattal picked up 4 goals, while Donohoe grabbed another pair, with Becca Dorst also grabbing a brace to lead UCLA to victory.
- As for the #7-seeded women's tennis team, the ladies came out strong, picking up a clean 4-0 sweep of Army in the opening round on Saturday. The Bruins picked up the doubles point (8-0, 8-0, 5-2) to pick up the first point, followed by dominating wins on singles action to get the easy win, with Kyle McPhillips (6-0, 6-0), Catherine Harrison (6-0, 6-0), and Courtney Dolehide (6-2, 6-0) leading the Bruins. The next day followed the same script, with the Lady Bruins blasting Oklahoma State 4-0 in another clean sweep to clinch a birth in the Sweet Sixteen in Champaign, Illinois this week. Again, the Bruins grabbed the doubles point, picking up a pair of hard fought matches (8-6, 8-4) to earn the opening point. Oklahoma State put up a fight, but Pamela Montez (6-2, 6-3), Catherine Harrison (3-6, 6-1, 6-0) and Courtney Dolehide (6-1, 7-5) took care of business to get UCLA on to the next round.
- As for our top-seeded men's tennis team, following their 4-0 demolition of UMKC on Friday, Saturday provided more of the same for the Bruins, with UCLA dropping Drake in the second round 4-0 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Champaign, Illinois. Like their female counterparts, the men picked up a hard-fought doubles point (8-6, 8-3) to earn the opening point, followed by three straight singles wins by Marcos Giron (6-3, 6-2), Dennis Mkrtchian (6-2, 6-4), and Clay Thompson (6-1, 6-0) to advance UCLA into the next round of tournament action, with their next opponent being #16-seeded Vanderbilt on Thursday.
Alright folks, those are your various bits and pieces of news from around the wider UCLA-iverse. Fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts, additions, and various musings on all things UCLA.