With less than 24 hours to go till kickoff here are some final practice/team related notes to close out this team. Bruins had their final walk through the Q today. Coach Mora met the media in an official press conference after it, He talked about the Bruins being in "game mode" and other storylines (nothing new) with the reporters:
He was extremely appreciative of the "red carpet" the City of San Diego had rolled out for our players and the team this week.
There was one thing from the presser that bugged me. Mora was asked by Ryan Kartje (OC Register) about his team playing "with discipline" feeding off a comment from Art Briles press conference (Kartje made a reference to it in his UCLA report today which is all about out camping in San Bernardino). Mora replied that it was one the defining characteristics of his program.
I think that's a bit of narrative creation in the mindset of beat reporters who are looking to write a cheap story about Bruins toughening up from the camp in San Bernardino. Well, the camp in the San Bernardino most likely helped our team toughen up and develop chemistry as a team, but I am not sure about the discipline part. Mora apparently elaborated on that point later on taking a dig at SPTRs:
Somewhat unprompted, he dismissed the idea that UCLA's nation-leading 123 penalties is evidence against discipline - taking a dig at conference officials along the way.
"Some of those penalties are discipline penalties," Mora said. "Some of those are, we play hard, we play violent and we play through the echo of the whistle. Some of them are horrible calls. We all know the Pac-12 has the reputation for being a little over the top in throwing that flag."
I understand where Mora is coming from but our team still was one of the most penalized teams in the country and it cost us during some huge moments in key games. Number of costly, unforced mistakes may have made the difference between an appearance in the Rose Bowl and playing in San Diego (which is not bad for Mora's first year, but will get old fast if there is no conference championship in UCLA's future within next two years).
Speaking of San Bernardino - Mora was asked about it during the presser. Pete Yoon wrote about it reporting Mora's intention of taking the team to the paradise in the IE every year:
"Those days at San Bernardino created the team that we are today," Mora said. "That's the foundation for all that we've become. ... Our guys refer back to those days quite often. They draw on that quite often."
Most will point to the extreme heat as the most memorable part of camp in San Bernardino, but Mora said it was much more about creating team chemistry and teammates bonding in an environment in which they had only one another.
The heat, however, was "an added bonus" he said.
"Creating discomfort, making guys push through things they don't think they can push through, taking them to a new level," Mora said. "These are things you have to teach these kids. They're still young men, they're still developing. They still think that they have limits and we have to push them beyond those limits. So the heat and the tempos of our practice certainly helped."
As long as he can bring back the Pac-12 conference title in Westwood within next two years, we don't have a problem Mora taking the team to San Berdoo or Bakersfield or Colton.
BTW Mora apparently also said this was his "best year of coaching":
"This has been the best year of coaching that I've ever had," Mora said. "I'm not talking about on the field, wins and losses, I'm talking about the satisfaction of working with these young men. ... I like it when a kid comes into my office and is able to share either something great that has happened in his life or needs my help with something. That's a satisfying feeling.
"I've got 110 of those guys that I have made a commitment to and their parents to help them become the men that their families want them to be and I take it very seriously. It's been very rewarding. There's a purity, a passion, an enthusiasm at this level that is very unique."
So far this year has been good, but it's not complete. It will be complete if the Bruins can get the job done tomorrow night. Because losing three games in a row to finish what was shaping up to a magical season is going to leave a real bad taste in everyone's mouth.
As we have said numerous times leading up the final gameday of 2012 - for Mora's first year to mean something special Bruins will have to close out strong in what is a must win game against Baylor.