UCLA baseball and softball are the toplines on BN this week. We are also keeping a close eye on this as tWWL reported that NCAA will "release its findings" on Southern Cal's sleazy program on Friday. While there will be leaks coming from Trogan friendly sources over next 48 hours, NCAA has a set procedure (HT Patroclus) for releasing its reports:
The public affairs staff at the NCAA will alert the media of the impending infractions report the morning of the release. The involved institution and any involved individuals receive a copy of the infractions report the day prior to the public release. The chair (or other designated member) of the Committee on Infractions will conduct a telephone press conference to announce the results of the committee's decision in that case. A public infractions report detailing the specific findings and penalties in the case, but with the names of all involved parties redacted, is also released at that time.
In other words, Mikey's staff will get their report on Thursday. They will most likely be leaking the results in their frame through lapdogs like SChilly Smith (tWWL), Gary Klein (Trojan Times) late tonight or sometime tomorrow. Something to watch out for.
Now before moving on to baseball let's start with the biggest story in LA this week. Yes, that gym where Kevin Garnet practiced yesterday looks awfully familiar. From the Boston Herald:
Practicing at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion was a natural for the Celtics. They and the home club are banner brothers. The Celts lead the NBA with 17, and the Bruins [team stats] are tops in the NCAA with 11 championships (four more than Kentucky).
UCLA coach Ben Howland greeted Rivers when he walked in.
"Great job," he said. "I'm very happy for you."
Then Howland asked about Rivers' son, top recruit Austin, whom he hopes to have by the school this weekend.
Well, I hope opening up facilities to those Cs will be worth it. Austin Rivers is a five star recruit (YouTube), but IMO it will be very difficult to pry him out of East Coast. As far as Bruins being "banner brothers" with the Cs, I hope it's the ghost of Ragovic that take over Paul Pierce and rest of the Boston shooters tomorrow night. More after the jump.
Now moving on to baseball, we understand that there is a lot of excitement around Regional being the most stacked regional in the entire tournament. There is also lot of furor from visitors such as LSU (40-20) about our facilities not being up to par (the concerns expressed are not unreasonable). Yet the Bruins cannot afford to get caught up in all that and overlook their first opponent in Kent State (39-23).
Kent State Golden Flashes are huge underdogs. No one is going to give them any kind of shot to advance beyond the regionals. Yet they are more than capable of pulling off an upset or two and make life difficult for the other three teams in the regional.
First of all the Flashes have been there before. Going to the NCAA tournament is not a big deal for them. They have won either the Mid-American Conference regular-season title or the MAC Tournament in 10 of the past 11 seasons. So these guys know how to win. Terry Pluto at Cleveland Sports Blog has a very good article on the tradition of Kent State's baseball program, which managed to win 5 games in 3 days in the MAC tournament to earn a trip to Westwood:
KSU was not expected to still be in action. The Flashes have only three seniors. Their best pitcher is Andrew Chafin. According to Stricklin, he is projected as an eventual first-round draft pick. He missed the entire season following reconstructive elbow surgery. The Flashes also had six different players sign pro contracts from the 2009 team that was 43-17 and was 1-2 in the NCAA regionals.
"We were picked for second place at the start of the season, and that's where we ended up," said Stricklin [Coach Scott Stricklin]. "Then we lost the first game of the MAC Tournament, and had to win five games in three days to get to the NCAAs. [Pitcher] Kyle Hallock pitched the last inning [of the semifinals], then pitched seven innings in the second game. He got two wins for us. It was amazing."
This team is so underrated that it had only one player on the All-MAC first team. That's Strongsville's Anthony Gallas, who is tied for the all-time KSU career home run record with 49. Stricklin said the senior with the 3.0 GPA "deserves to be drafted," but isn't sure whether big-league teams will see it the same way.
The Flashes have 28 of 35 players from Ohio. Six more are from Pennsylvania, and one from Florida. That's Jordan Lucas, the team's only junior-college player. He has a 3.5 GPA.
The point is that Stricklin has built a winner with area players and solid students.
So the Bruins (or any of us) will be absolutely foolish to overlook these guys and ponder their matchups with any other team unless we take care of business in that first game on Friday.
Meanwhile, the LA Times' UCLA beat reporter is apparently discovering that the Bruins have a baseball team. Chris Foster has been writing some articles on our program for the first time this season. He has found out that the Bruins have been blessed with four outstanding starting pitchers all season. Welcome to the party Chris. Perhaps you will stick around not only through this tourney but also show up for work at JRS all through next season as well. Whatever.
Moving on to football, this week it was Athlon's turn to name Akeem Ayers, Rahim Moore and Kai Forbath as their pre-season All Americans. I wonder how many of these honors these three will rack up by the time off-season is over.
Lastly, UCLA football is hosting a pretty cool event this Saturday:
On Saturday, June 5, from 8:15am-12:00pm, the UCLA football team will host the Prime Time Games; a full-inclusion, peer-mentor sports program in which economically disadvantaged and under-served middle school students from the Team Prime Time after-school program ("coaches") coach and play alongside children with developmental disabilities ("athletes") in the only after school sports program of its kind.
Approximately 30 football players and many other UCLA athletes will take part in "Championship Saturday," serving as honorary coaches and captains for the inclusive soccer and basketball teams. This already inspirational day should start on an even higher note as Head Football Coach Rick Neuheisel will address the hundreds of coaches, athletes and families in attendance during the Opening Ceremonies, which take place on Spaulding Field at 9am. Soccer commences soon thereafter on Spaulding while the basketball teams will play in the Student Activities Center. The basketball games feature guest referee Matt Stevens, the radio analyst for UCLA football and a former Bruin quarterback.
Mike Linn, our S&C coach has been the "driving force" behind all of this. You can read all the details here. As always great to see our coaches and players getting involved with our community in this way. We expect nothing less.