Rye has already given you the low down on the possibly the biggest home series for the UCLA baseball program in quiet some time. Coach Savage (just like Ben Howland) has simply done an amazing job to rebuild a perennially underachieving UCLA baseball program to a legit contender in the Pac-10. Heather Gripp has a great story on Savage's young ball players in today's Daily News:
If there was any second-guessing about what they'd gotten themselves into, they won't admit it. The talent among that recruiting class was great enough to make its members believe they could turn around the program.
Two years later, the Bruins are exactly where they envisioned they'd be. UCLA, ranked as high as No. 18 in the nation, enters this weekend's series against visiting Arizona in first place in the Pacific-10 Conference and coming off the program's best stretch in 10 years.
"It might be a little different for the guys who have been around longer, but we all came in here last year expecting to win," Bruins sophomore catcher Ryan Babineau said.
"We have a lot of sophomores and freshmen, but we really don't think of ourselves as a young team. Nobody ever mentions that. That's never been an excuse."
UCLA has won 14 of its past 17 games, and is 8-1 in Pac-10 play, the Bruins' best conference start in the modern era. They've swept back-to-back, three-game Pac-10 series on the road for the first time in program history, including their first three-game sweep at USC.
"This year, we're starting a tradition," sophomore third baseman Jermaine Curtis said.
"We just want to win. We pick each other up and push each other. ... I felt like we'd be one of the top teams last year. We had a great recruiting class. With a year under our belts, we should be doing this. Really, we should be doing even better. We're right where we want to be, but we aren't satisfied."
We can feel it around UCLA hoops. We are now feeling it in baseball. We actually feel "it" in pretty much every UCLA sports except in football. And that lack of "it" primarily goes back to one thing - coaching.
Kudos to John Savage for doing such a great job in his short time in Westwood. You never hear cliches, BS excuses of being young and inexperience coming out of his mouth. He is just going out there methodically creating a winning tradition, just like all of his other colleagues leading various UCLA programs except for Karl Dorrell.