Let's start the week with some diamond notes involving both our baseball and softball programs. Our baseball team is once again blue hot as the Bruins just finished their third consecutive Pac-10 series sweep against California Golden Bears. This weekend's result was pretty surprising to yours truly. I though the Bears were good enough to win at least one game if not take the series. I didn't think the Bruins were going to step up and color me more than pleasantly surprised for the way they came through, especially after repeatedly experiencing adversity in their first game against the Bears.
The Bruins (41-11, 16-8) don't have a lot of room to get comfortable. They are going to be taking on Cal State Fullerton with regional implications in couple days at CSUF's Goodwin field. The series history with the Titans hasn't been kind to the Bruins. Then the Bruins will take on a Washington State squad which has won 9 out of its last 10 games, putting themselves in position for a possible 2 seed in their regional. I don't expect the Bruins to end the season with an 11 game winning streak. However, given the quality of the remaining competition, I think we should feel good about our program heading into the tourney, if they end up splitting next 4 games. Overall everyone here should feel extremely proud of this team, especially in the way they have responded following that disappointing series sweep against Arizona State.
While the baseball team is charging into the post-season, the softball team just put together an impressive regional performance. Fifth seeded Bruins moved on yesterday with a 7-2 closing out of Fresno State. The Bruins scored 7 unanswered runs after falling behind 0-2. Here are the video highlights:
Official site has details on yesterday's victory. The Bruins improve to 43-11 on the season and will host Louisiana-Lafayette next weekend in the Super Regional round. Ultimately it is all about winning championships. Hopefully Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez can keep her team focused and locked in for the Rajun Cajuns on their way to where they belong (at the top of College World Series). More after the jump.
Moving on to football, another national media outlet has come out with season prediction on the Bruins. Matt Hinton (aka "Dr. Saturday" and previously known as "Sunday Morning QB" on SBN) makes a "non binding forecast" in "an absurdly premature assessment of the 2010 Bruins":
This feels like a program on the rise, but there's not a lot of room for upward mobility in a league where Washington and Stanford are trending even more clearly upward under their own charismatic young coaches and future first-round quarterbacks, while Arizona, Oregon State and California have established solid enough foundations to prevent a freefall in the standings. Among the generally competitive segment of Pac-10 also-rans, UCLA probably still has the least going for it on paper. Toss in the impressively murderous non-conference slate, and another bowl bid begins to look like a Herculean accomplishment.
Rather than the record, which probably isn't going to be very good, the season may better be judged by just how competitive the Bruins are en route to, say, 5-7 - last year, four of their six conference losses were by double digits, and Stanford and Oregon State both held double-digit fourth-quarter leads before allowing minor runs that brought the finals within apparent striking distance. L.A. should not be expected to exceed 6-6, but all things considered, if it can get there again while lamenting the ones that narrowly got away, that will be a (very) small step forward.
Well, glad that Matt is keeping the expectations "reasonable" for us. We agree with keeping our expectations in check given number of questions we have to answer heading into next season. Yet Hinton went about making an "absurdly premature assessment" without doing lot of research (or knowing much about our team). In that blurb alone he forgot to mention that UCLA was ... uhm ... a little more than within "striking distance" against Oregon State on the road. UCLA had the game tied up against the Beavers, and was essentially an ATV dropped pick-6 away from winning the game.
Similarly he forgot to mention that the Bruins lost to Stanford by 8 points without our starting QB in a game where we had our share of shots in the second half. Of course we get both Stanford (without Toby Gerhart) and Oregon State (without Sean Canfield) this year at the Rose Bowl. Both of those games are going to be tough, but I like our Bruins' chances. Also, worth noting nowhere in Hinton's "absurdly premature assessment" names of Josh Smith, Nate Chandler, Malcolm Jones, Jordon James, Cassius Marsh, Seali Epenesa made any appearance. Not the first time Hinton has missed out on key details while opining on UCLA:
With a trio of solid, more or less Rose Bowl-worthy classes under its belt and a third-year quarterback who's taken his licks (quite literally) over the course of an entire season, UCLA has no reason to set its sights short of nine or even 10 wins next fall. At this pace, that should be the standard soon for every season; if it's not, Neuheisel will be feeling some heat for failing to make good on the quality at his disposal. This year, his fourth, is the year the Bruins have to begin to make that move.
Oops. Guess that's what happens when national "pundits" are under pressure to churn out articles, blogposts or segments on national TV under Kual agreements. Usually we see error and misinformation filled "analysis" with a "national perspective" on Cable TV ... now we are seeing it among writers who have emerged as new generation of "pundits" in today's world of "new media."
Anyway, ultimately when it comes to season predictions 6 win is a good baseline for next season. However, at this point it is fair to say that Bruin fans have some reason to be optimistic that if all goes well (read the team's "health") Bruins will have a shot in taking another step forward from last year's 7-6 season.
DP: Are you engaged yet?
KL: Not yet. I knew you were going to ask that.
DP: The last romantic thing you did for that girl was what?
KL: I had to take her to a college dance.
DP: UCLA has a prom?
KL: Something like that She's in a sorority so I had to go to the dance. Luckily I had my buddy form Oregon with me who went with another girl as well. So we had a good time.
DP: What was your major at UCLA?
KL: Uh, getting to the NBA ...
Can't never fault KL for being brutally genuine.