It's Monday morning, which sadly means a return back to work (except for the few of you who got today off, you lucky SOBs). Football is finally back, the pain of Ben Howland's dumpster fire isn't foremost in our mind (at least for now), and we're creeping closer to the return of nothing but long, sunny days here in the Golden State. So, to get our week started, let's take a look at the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Starting with basketball, as the Lexington Herald-Reader reported, feeling is building around Kentucky that the Wildcats might actually close the gap on UCLA, something the Lexington faithful once thought unattainable when Jim Harrick and King Ed brought the eleventh banner back to Pauley Pavilion, while Kentucky stood at five. So, in the time since UCLA last won a national title, Kentucky has scored three, and closed our gap in half. All while Chianti Dan fiddles away.
- On the pro side, the Salt Lake Tribune has a really good profile of former Bruin guard and current Utah Jazz back-up Earl Watson. In addition to talking about Watson's own path from a rough neighborhood to UCLA to the NBA, the Salt Lake Tribune covered Watson's interactions with Coach, his belief in basketball, and most importantly, his really heart-touching and awesome outreach efforts to get young kids out of bad neighborhoods and change the culture of his rough hometown.
- In women's hoops news, as the Los Angeles Times noted, UCLA-commit Nirra Fields was named the Times' Player of the Year after leading Mater Dei to a Southern Section Division I-AA championship and being named a McD's All-American. All-in-all, a good profile of an outstanding basketball player, who should be able to help turn Cori Close's program around after this inconsistent season.
- Turning to football, CBS Sports' Sean Ceglinsky noted in his Rapid Reports segment that true freshman Marcus Rios, who enrolled early at UCLA after graduating early from Cosumnes Oaks HS (Elk Grove), has impressed Coach Mora, and could see himself get playing time his freshman season. That wouldn't come as a surprise given some depth issues in the secondary and Mora's willingness to play the best performer, without regard to seniority.
- Anthony Barr, the once highly-touted high school athlete that chose UCLA over Notre Dame and U$C, has languished, being under-utilized under Rick Neuheisel. Now, under Coach Mora, he's making the switch to linebacker, lining up for new defensive coordinator Lou Spanos. Jim Peltz at the Los Angeles Times has a profile of the junior, in which he talks about his decision to switch to defense, his reasons for the change, and what he hopes to get out of it. Short read, but neat read.
- Finally, one of our favorite reporters, Jon Gold, has a really good profile of returning offensive tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, in which he talks about missing football, his goals for the season, and has some discussion about the impact that the return of XSF, protecting our QB's blindside should have on the effectiveness of our offensive line this season.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get the week started. Fire away with your thoughts, opinions, and takes in the comment threads.