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Coach Caldwell Is Making Her Mark

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Coach Caldwell's Bruins are off to a good start in 2009-10 season (9-4 over all, 2-0 in the Pac-10), Photo Source: <a href="http://www.today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/a-team-of-her-own-85059.aspx" target="new">UCLA Today</a>
Coach Caldwell's Bruins are off to a good start in 2009-10 season (9-4 over all, 2-0 in the Pac-10), Photo Source: UCLA Today

If you are closely following truebluebruin24's posts closely (if you are not you should), then you'd know that our womens' basketball team is off to a 2-0 start in the Pac-10 (9-4 overall). The Bruins are coming off a through demolition of Arizona State (#19 at the time) which truebluebruin24 described as our first "meaningful road victory" in ages. It will be really interesting to see how the Bruins follow up their good start in the Pac-10 season this week as they host the Bay Area teams in a huge home stand this week (Friday and Sunday).

In the meantime Coach Caldwell's early season success is already getting attention around the nation. More after the jump.

tWWL is on to her solid start in second season:

UCLA is off to a good start in Caldwell's second season; the Bruins are 9-4 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Caldwell began Pac-10 play coaching against a fellow former Tennessee player, beating Niya Butts' Arizona squad 67-58 on New Year's Day. Then the Bruins topped Arizona State 74-56. Both those games were on the road.

"I thought that was a great start for our team," said Caldwell, whose team hosts Cal on Friday and No. 2 Stanford on Sunday. "But there's still much, much work to be done. All coaches talk about putting together 40 great minutes of basketball. We have not been consistent in doing that."

And taking note of her recruiting efforts in Westwood. She learned the importance of it from her former head coach, the legendary Pat Summitt from Tennessee:

Well, maybe, but the ultimate "secret" to Tennessee's success is obvious to any observer: Summitt's ability to both recruit great players and develop them. Caldwell is really just beginning that process now at UCLA.

Her leading scorer and rebounder is Markel Walker, a 6-foot-1 freshman forward out of Philadelphia. She's the younger sister of former Pitt standout Marcedes Walker.

"It was difficult in luring her to come [from the East Coast]," Caldwell said of Markel, who is averaging 12.9 points and 8.5 rebounds. "But when she stepped foot in Westwood and was able to meet the team and get to know the staff, she felt very much at home here. She didn't want to leave after she took her official visit."

Caldwell hopes she can build UCLA into a strong program that those top prospects already living in California won't want to leave, either. Former blue-chip recruit Jasmine Dixon of Long Beach did decide to go away before Caldwell took over, committing to Rutgers. But after a semester out in New Jersey last year, Dixon came back home and enrolled at UCLA.

Dixon, a 5-11 guard, became eligible to play for the Bruins at semester break and already has made an impact, averaging 12.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in six games thus far.

You should read the rest of piece here.

If you are a student on campus or a Bruin basketball junkie, I'd recommend getting behind this program. From what I have read and heard about Coach Caldwell, it sounds like she is building a lot of excitement around a program that was underachieving (Lavin style) prior to her arrival in Westwood.

So let's get out there and support our Bruins. For more information on the game against Cal (tomorrow 7:05 pm PST at Pauley), here are the official notes. Hopefully Caldwell and her ladies can hold on their momentum and get a victory to set up a huge game against Stanford. They cannot overlook California though. They need to get it done tomorrow and hopefully there will be lot of folks out at Pauley cheering them on.

GO BRUINS.