Our winter Olympic sports teams are in full swing now. Our winter teams have an extremely hard act to fall. We had a fall season for the ages, with a 2nd place finish in the Directors' Cup, which is our best performance since 2003. We will have a fuller analysis of the Directors' and Capital One Cup results tomorrow. But suffice it to say, when you win a national title (Men's Water Polo), reach the title game in another sport (Men's Soccer) and have decent runs in other sports, the overall strength of the program will be reflected in the standings.
My guess is that we will look at the fall sports as a high water mark until spring, when our Baseball and Tennis teams will hopefully make deep runs. Those expecting lots of points from Men's Basketball- please be advised that reaching the Final Four would be fantastic, but not if it is the NIT.
So here is a brief look at the sports which are in the final winter Directors' Cup standings, and the Bruins current season in these sports-
---Skiing- Guerrero is definitely taking us off-piste in terms of major coaching hires, but we don't have a varsity level team here.
---Rifle- same as above, but Guerrero can not be viewed as a sharpshooter in any dimension other than inserting himself into team photos for championship pictures.
---Indoor track- the season begins this Saturday in Flagstaff. The coaching staff apparently asked TIARA where the best athletes are. His response was Albuquerque. That is the only possible explanation for a schedule which includes trips to Albuquerque on three consecutive weekends. We may have some decent individual performances, but historically indoor track has not been a strength for UCLA.
---Fencing- Guerrero's rapier wit may be cutting (haven't seen it yet), but we don't have a varsity level team.
---Men's and Women's Ice Hockey- five minutes for Guerrero for butt-ending (at least that is how I feel). No varsity level team for either men or women.
---Swimming- The Bruins are currently ranked #13 (CSCAA 1/15 rankings) in Women's Swimming. UCLA wrapped up the home portion of its schedule with simultaneous dual meet wins over unranked opponents Kansas and San Diego on January 10. Most recently, the Bruins took down unranked Oregon State in Corvallis on Friday by the score of 151-102.
The road ahead will be much more difficult as UCLA travels to face #3 Stanford and #1 UC Berkeley back-to-back at the end of the month. And on Friday the 13th, the Bruins will hopefully bring bad luck to #12 Southern Cal in an away meet for UCLA.
Meanwhile, UCLA is hosting the Bruin Diving Invitational which ends today. This is the last separate competition for divers until the NCAA regionals in March.
---Men's Basketball- we will get the same or close to the same number of points from Men's Basketball for the Directors' Cup as we will get for fencing, ice hockey, skiing, etc.
---Women's Basketball- the Bruins went through a brutal nonconference schedule to get ready for conference play. The 4-7 nonconference mark included a loss at #12 North Carolina, a 10 point loss at home to #5 Texas, a five point loss at home to #17 Nebraska, a loss at #2 U Conn, and a loss at home to #7 Notre Dame. Getting tougher seems to have paid off somewhat in conference play, as the Bruins are currently 4-2, with two wins over Southern Cal, Utah and Colorado, and losses to #9 Oregon State and Oregon. The second win over just $C came last night, by the score of 71-60. Here is the game summary from the UCLA website. Coach Close sat six players for the first half for breaking unspecified team rules. The short-handed Bruins trailed at the half 32-26, but UCLA smoked just $C in the second half to pick up the win.
At 4-2, the Bruins are tied for 4th with UC Berkeley. But with games still on tap against ranked opponents Stanford and Arizona State, I would not expect a stellar win-loss record at the end of the season. I am guessing that we might be hard pressed to get a bye for the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament in March, but hope springs eternal.
---Wrestling- Guerrero has put a chokehold on our dreams, but we don't have a varsity team in this sport either.
---Bowling- Guerrero keeps racking up gutter balls, but this is not a varsity sport for UCLA.
---Men's Gymnastics- Guerrero did execute a triple twist with a half spin, but that was in explaining why he gave TIARA an extra year on his contract. We don't have a varsity team, despite our past glories in this sport.
--Women's Gymnastics- this is our best hope for success among the winter sports. For one thing, Coach Kondos Field does not have a daughter on the team, so we are already one step ahead of another sport. You can follow this team here on BN, thanks to the excellent coverage from brugym. The Bruins beat Oregon State in Corvallis on Monday 196-195.45. Gyminfo tracks high scores for each team and provides rankings based on the scores. Based on the 1/12 rankings, which did not include meets that evening, UCLA would have come in at #7.
Next up is the home opener at OPUG later today, with the Bruins facing Arizona. Arizona is coming off a 195.25 score in a quad meet win, which would have put them at #9 in the most recent standings. Again, please check BN for a fanpost with more info on the Arizona meet. The Bruins then travel to Salt Lake City, for a major hurdle in #4 Utah on Friday night.
That is it for this edition of Bruin Bites. As I mentioned, this may be the winter of our discontent, taking into account Men's Basketball. But we are building on a fantastic fall and the spring sports look much more promising.
Go Bruins !!