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Bruin Bites: UCLA looking for a big season from our spring Olympic Sports teams

The Bruins were #2 in the country in the final fall Directors' Cup standings. After the winter of our discontent, we should finish strong. Here is a quick look at the most likely candidates for NCAA title #113.

Defending national champions
Defending national champions

We did a preview last week of the NCAA sports which will be decided in the winter term. Since this includes Men's Basketball, we will undoubtedly drop in the final winter Directors' Cup standings. If you would like more info on Guerrero's foibles in winter sports, including discussions of gutter balls, sharp shooting, triple flips and butt checks, click here.

The outlook for our spring sports is considerably brighter. Here are the sports which will be decided in May and June-

---Women's Water Polo. The Bruins are #2 in the initial CWPA poll of the season, behind Stanford. Stanford is the defending national champions after beating UCLA in last year's championship match. This sport is more responsible than any other for the number of championships in Guerrero's bio, with Adam Krikorian (not hired by Guerrero) winning six titles in seven years through 2009. Krikorian's successor, Brandon Brooks (hired by Guerrero) has yet to win a title.

UCLA came roaring out of the gate with dominant wins over Cal Baptist and LMU in the UCLA Invitational last weekend. To show how the power is concentrated in Women's Water Polo, UCLA at #2 beat LMU at #16 by the score of 21-5. You never want to see your water polo team score more in a game than your basketball team can score in a half, but such is the lot of being a UCLA fan. The Bruins were led in scoring over the weekend by junior All-American attacker Rachel Fattal, junior center India Forster and junior defender Alys Williams.

UCLA participated in the UCSB Invitational this weekend, crunching #14 UCSB in their pool 20-8 in the opening match. The Bruins also defeated #11 Long Beach State 15-2 in the tournament.

Conference play begins in early March, as the Bruins look to get over the hump at Stanford in the NCAA Championships in May.

----Men's Volleyball. The Bruins are #9 in the most recent rankings, and are 4-2 in the early going of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, the two losses were in conference play at #4 BYU. And these matches demonstrated the gap which exists between the Bruins and the top teams. UCLA was swept in three sets on Friday, 1/16. After coming through with an impressive first set win 25-17 on Saturday, 1/17, the Bruins lost the next three sets. Winning one set out of seven is not a particularly hopeful sign.

UCLA hosts two conference matches at OPUG this week, with #6 Pepperdine visiting on Tuesday and #12 Stanford visiting on Thursday. One silver lining from the basketball season is that there clearly has been no all-out defensive coaching, with players being put through hustle drills which could scuff up the OPUG playing surface. The surface should be pristine on Tuesday.

---Lacrosse. We will get as many Directors' Cup points in this sport as we will in Men's Basketball, and we don't have a men's or women's lacrosse team. This actually surprises me, because two of the penalties in lacrosse are stalling and warding off, which would seem to fit Guerrero's bureaucratic style to a tee.

---Women's Tennis. Here is probably our best hope for #113. The defending national champion Bruins are ranked #1 in the current ITA poll. UCLA won its opening match at home on Saturday 4-0 over Marshall and followed that up with a win at home on Sunday over Kansas State by the same 4-0 score. As another example of the surrealism which reigns within Moron Center, if you had clicked on the Kansas State match live stats link on Saturday (a day early), you would have been treated to a match score with live updates from a match between the Bruins and Texas Tech on the Men's side. I know Dan- it is so much harder when you have two teams to keep track of in a single sport.

If you want to read more about yesterday's K-State match, just click on the website article "Top-Ranked Bruins Dispatch of Kansas State".  Our Morgan Center sports info rep who graduated from Southern Cal last year had us on the precipice of a national title in Men's Soccer. Our Morgan Center sports info rep who graduated from San Diego State has us dispatching of an opponent, rather than simply dispatching said opponent. Maybe Guerrero could look to another source for sports info reps, presumably some individuals who are actually conversant with the English language. I hear that UCLA is a pretty good university academically. Maybe he could look there.

UCLA's next Women's Tennis match is this Thursday at home against LMU. The Bruins then head to Virginia the following weekend for an early season showdown against other power teams in the ITA National Women's Indoor Team Championship.

----Men's Tennis. UCLA is ranked #4 in the most recent poll. The Bruins opened the season with a 4-0 whitewashing of UC Irvine on Wednesday, followed by a 5-0 whitewashing of Pepperdine on Friday. UCLA improved to 3-0 with a 4-1 win over Texas Tech (again details available by heading to the Women's Tennis page on the UCLA website).

The Bruins head to Georgia next weekend for a couple of tough matches- at #8 Georgia on Saturday and vs. #13 Florida on Sunday. UCLA returns home the following week with matches against San Diego State (Saturday, February 7) and St. Mary's (Sunday, February 8).

---Women's Rowing. The spring season begins in early March. This historically has not been a strong sport for UCLA, unlike, say, Men's Basketball.

---Softball. The season starts with six games in four days at home. First pitch is 6 pm Thursday night, February 5, against Idaho State. The Bruins are ranked #7 in the most recent poll. Opening weekend includes a Friday night game against #22 Notre Dame. UCLA then hits the road until early March, and begins conference play mid-March. Based on the most recent poll, Oregon (#2) and Washington (#11) look to be the stiffest competition in the conference.

---Women's Golf. The Bruins are ranked #3 in the Golfweek statistical rankings. Unfortunately, this reflects results with star Alison Lee, who turned pro before completing her sophomore season. The Bruins will be hard pressed to replace her talent.

UCLA begins the spring season with a three day tournament beginning Sunday, February 8 in Palos Verdes. Next up after that is a tournament in New Orleans.

----Men's Golf. The Bruins are ranked #4 in the final fall GCAA Coaches Poll. UCLA opens the spring season with a three day tournament in Hawaii, beginning on February 5. They return to Southern California for a tournament at PGA West beginning Monday, February 16.

---Track and field. This has become another relatively weak sport for UCLA under Guerrero's malign neglect. The first home meet is in mid-March.

---Baseball. This is the other great hope for #113. The Bruins are #4 in the preseason poll and #10 in the preseason Collegiate Baseball poll (best ranking for a team on the West Coast). And Baseball America tabbed UCLA as one of the eight favorites last June to be in the 2015 CWS, and that was before All-American closer David Berg opted to return for his senior season.

We will have much more about the Bruins as the season draws nearer. Opening day is Friday, February 13. I can't wait. Obviously, we have some tough decisions to make in terms of time allocation down the road. For example- (A) head over to Jackie Robinson Stadium to see one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the country, coached by one of the best coaches (and probably the best pitching coach) in the country, or (B) put a bag over your head and go to OPUG to see the rematch at home against the Oregon team which torched TIARA's sorry excuse for coaching on Saturday.

All in all, this is looking like a very promising spring for UCLA's olympic sports teams. We have highly ranked teams across the board. Here's to #113.

Go Bruins !!