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Roundup From BN Walk: News & Notes

We will start our Saturday walk with a note from Coach Ben Howland. Coach Howland addressed the criticism directed towards Kevin Love (from BN and other UCLA fans) concerning his decision to drop out of school right before the end of last quarter at UCLA. Per Coach Howland, the criticism towards Love is unwarranted:

Some wondered why Love didn't drop his classes sooner to avoid taking incompletes if he knew he was going to the NBA anyway, but Howland said Love remained in school as long as he did in case of a freak injury that might have negatively impacted his draft status.
"I wanted to keep the option open for as long as possible for the pure chance something would happen like what happened to Brandon Rush," Howland said. "You don't want to force a kid to leave college because you're trying to save a point on the APR."
UCLA received a 968 in the APR this year, well above the 925 cutoff line where teams can start losing scholarships as penalty. That score will take a hit with the early departures of Love and Westbrook, a circumstance that Howland believes needs to be tweaked.
"At the programs that are going to lose guys early to the NBA, you're still penalized for that, and I don't know if that's necessarily fair," Howland said. "It's a little unrealistic to penalize schools for kids who are going to go do that."

Coach Howland's explanation makes sense to me. However, it would still be nice if Kevin Love at least made the same commitment as RW made wrt to finishing his classes. still it is pretty remarkable to see the graciousness on Coach Howland's part wrt to Kevin Love, despite some of the recent comments in press from Love and his immediately family that could be misconstrued by people. You just don't see this kind of class from coaches in today's ego driven, high profile world of big time college coaches.

Speaking of college coaches, bruinhoo put up a the fanshot on Coach Wooden's mural at JRW High School at Reseda. Jill Painter, who blogged it first on DN has the full story:

The mural includes pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa, Wooden's heroes, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor), wearing a championship net. The cartoon characters "Inch and Miles" from his children's book were included as well.

Wooden's second-favorite part of the mural was the Big Ten academic award he earned as a student-athlete at Purdue.

Wooden, a former English teacher, has long called himself a teacher first instead of a coach. It couldn't have been more fitting that the mural was painted on the outside of the high school's English classroom.

Rios has been painting murals for most of his life, although he started painting murals for causes he believed in when he was 11. He painted illegally at night, and he said he was arrested at ages 11, 12, 14 and 16.

He made many sketches of the mural and the original was centered mostly around Wooden's life as a coach. But anyone who knows Wooden knows that couldn't possibly capture his persona. His roles as father, grandfather, great-grandfather and teacher were much more important.

"Who in the world is John Wooden?" Rios said. "I realized he is a father figure to so many."

Kessler requested Rios read several of Wooden's books as part of his research. Only after he learned more about Wooden did he know he had to make a change in his masterpiece.

"I said, `I've got to push Mother Teresa back somehow and bring his wife out,' " Rios said, laughing.

Make sure to read the whole story which details how Jay Kessler, the principal at JRW High came up with the idea and enlisted local artist Hector Rios who put together that "masterpiece."

Now let's switch over to football. There is an interesting Q&A in the Seattle Press Intelligence involving Rick Kimbrel from BruinBlitz who answers some questions on recruiting. Here is what Kimbrel had to say about UCLA and Neuheisel:

Has Rick Neuheisel made an impact on recruiting the Los Angeles area already?

Kimbrel: Sure has! He's made (USC) flinch in my opinion. Rick is what Rick is -- a charismatic guy, disarms you with his self-deprecating sense of humor and he's sharp. You've got to be aware of him. He's like Wile E. Coyote. UCLA is the flavor of the month right now because of him.

He's living lucky right now. If there's one guy who has luck on his side, it's Rick. He has the best coaching staff top to bottom in the Pac-10. He has (offensive coordinator) Norm Chow, (running backs coach) Wayne Moses -- those are two guys NFL teams are paying. Then you've got DeWayne Walker, who he beat out for the job. He's the best defensive coordinator in the conference and Washington almost got him.

That's why I say Rick's lucky -- he's winning those battles.

If he can get some quarterback play and offensive line play, and if they win eight games, then people are going to look at Rick Neuheisel like he's a genius.

Hmm. I am not sure "lucky" is the word I would use. It takes more than luck to convince personalities such as Chow and Walker to join his staff, after he went up directly against them in a competitive and high profile coaching search process in the second biggest media market in America. It takes incredible persuasion skill not to mention (and perhaps more importantly) vision. Moreover, forget eight wins. Given the talent level at our program, the state of our OL and QBs, I will be ecstatic with 6 wins, especially one of those wins come in the close out game at the Rose Bowl this December.

Speaking of football dates, file these in your google calendar, outlook, whatever organizer you use to plan out your Bruin football outings:

Mark your calendars. UCLA's 2008 pre-season football scrimmage has been set for the evening of Saturday, August 16. It will be held at Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus.

The scrimmage is tentatively scheduled for 5:15 pm. Gates at Drake Stadium will open at 4 pm.

The Bruins will open practice on Tuesday, August 5, so this will be the first full-scale scrimmage of Fall camp.

Following the scrimmage, head coach Rick Neuheisel and the Bruins will be available for autographs and photographs.

This will be the most anticipated Fall camp since the one involving Number 18's senior season. It's gonna be a looooooog summer waiting for August 15.