Monthly Archives: December 2011

UCLA Men’s Basketball: The Bruins can reclaim Pac-12 dominance this weekend

Jerime Anderson, courtesy JMR Photography

So after a 2-5 start to a season that looked like a lost cause, the Bruins fixed some things (read: dismissed Reeves Nelson) and are on a 5-game win streak, now 7-5 on the season.

Sure, only one of those games came against a not-crappy opponent in Richmond (their most recent win), but the important thing to note is that this team is riding a hot streak going into a weekend which will see them play against Stanford and Cal (two of the top three teams in the Pac-12) tonight and Saturday night respectively. Cal is 10-3 on the year, Stanford is 10-2, while tonight marks the opening of Pac-12 conference play.

To open up the season, the Bruins were considered the favorite to win the conference. After a shoddy start, they can catapult themselves into contention for the first time all year, especially now that all teams are 0-0 in-conference.

Of course, implications aside, both Cal and Stanford are beatable especially since our Bruins have a hell of an advantage inside (if Travis and David Wear can get their shizz together, and if Josh Smith can be as active as he can be). Though our backcourt is a bit more of a question mark, the talent available to us (although Lazeric Jones was hurt along with backup Normal Powell; both will play on bum ankles, but neither figure to be 100 percent) is formidable enough for us to keep up with the incumbents at Stanford.

Regardless, the Bruins need — and can obtain — a “W” leaving Palo Alto on Thursday night. Hopefully, they’ll give us a belated Christmas present.

 

On UCLA Athletics and the culture of Los Angeles sports fans

UCLA Bruins football

Note: The following blog post is NSFW considering it is laced with profanity. Parents, cover your kids’ eyes. Although this is a family-friendly blog about UCLA sports, this one is during a fit of anger over a lot of reading. 

We’re damned Philadelphia sports fans. All of us.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have a strong interest in UCLA sports, meaning you’re likely to have a strong interest in Los Angeles sports in general.

And if you’re like most other Los Angeles sports fans, you are, excuse my Internet, a complete asshole.

The culture of Los Angeles sports is sickening, and it’s gut-wrenching that it oozes into UCLA sports.

In what way are Los Angeles fans assholes? Well, we’re basically Philadelphia fans living on the West Coast.

First-year head coach has a losing season? Fire him. No championship three-peat? Blow up the team. Newly-hired UCLA football coach isn’t exactly anyone’s  first choice? Fuck that guy, while, oh yeah, throwing out some sort of back-handed, shitty and sorry excuse for “support.”  Win 10 games (10-2) in a college football season in the then-Pac-10 but get blown out by a top-ranked team widely considered to be one of the best in decades? You’re a laughing stock. (And this is coming from a guy who disliked Karl Dorrell as the UCLA coach.) More on that joke, BruinsNation, later.

Los Angeles-based fans expect winners or “GTFO.” (“Get the fuck out,” for those who don’t speak Internet.) Teams with “promise” are looked upon with intense scrutiny and undeserved skepticism. The city of L.A. does not know what the word “rebuild” means and, instead, knows only the phrase “recklessly and desperately reconstruct.” No Lakers’ fan would trade Pau Gasol for a couple of young guys that are nearly-guaranteed homeruns in about two or three years because L.A.-based Lakers’ fans can’t hold their wad long enough.

And because this is a UCLA sports blog, it only makes sense that this culture — one of insane impatience — is bogging down UCLA Athletics.

If you’re Jim Mora, the new head honcho at UCLA, you would like to receive immediate support from your fan base even if you weren’t exactly the students’ (nor alums’) first choice. Sure, the athletic director may be a clown, but it isn’t as if the school can unhire Mora. What’s done is done, and what this athletics program needs is a shot of some damn optimism or, at the very least, some support.

But being skeptical and demanding that Mora win the Pac-12 in his first season while publicly telling the dude, “Listen, you’re our head coach and we hate you“?  Screw that, man.

Of course, the majority of the links I’ve embedded are to Bruins Nation, a “blog” (I can’t even give that damned website the dignity of including them in the UCLA blogosphere*) which is run by some cowardly asshole (Nestor) who apparently thinks him and his cronies’ opinions are the voice of the entire UCLA fan-base. What a big head those fucktards have.

The point of bashing that crap-ass blog goes beyond spite (I’ve tried jumping on the ‘wagon for that website, you guys, I really have). What Bruins Nation embodies is everything that is wrong with the L.A. sports culture — radical change and unreasonable expectations. Of course, your typical L.A. sports fan will argue that “they shouldn’t be wrong because they expect their team/school to be the best they can possibly be.”  The problem is not having high expectations — it’s having ones that wouldn’t be met immediately, that take time to reach. Winning is different than “winning now” and though teams like the Lakers and the UCLA Bruins’ basketball and football teams have the potential to “win now,” the best possible result will involve patience and support.

What’s radical is far, far different than what is reasonable. Trade players to put yourself in a better position to win an NBA title the next year? OK. Blow up the core of a championship team after being a year removed from repeating as champs? Not OK. Fire the Athletic Director? OK. Over ten years of mediocrity is enough. Starting a Twitter trend to further publicize the vitriolic sentiments we have towards our new head coach, who had yet to even be announced officially? Not OK.

The Los Angeles sports culture needs to change. While the desired results are the same (we want the teams, including our UCLA teams, to succeed) the method in which we wish to pursue in attaining our desired results is currently crap. The majority of athletes and coaches whom we criticize so much will obviously lack in confidence if the support from the fan-bases are inconsistent. To succeed, the teams need a morale boost, something to be proud of, or, at the very least, to be the person to make the fan-base proud.

And some fucking support would be nice.

*Blogs are different from websites in that they encourage solid discussion from both sides of every story. They are an inclusive community that opens its ears (via comments) to any valid comment. Bruins Nation has repeatedly deleted comments that differ from what they believe is the dominant discourse and sentiment of the UCLA athletics programs. The majority of those bloggers also cannot “blog” (or spell, for that matter) for shit. (Mind you, there are a few respectable, smart bloggers on there who get lost in the shuffle.)

UCLA Men’s Basketball is on a roll without Reeves Nelson. No, seriously.

Joe Bruin

Joe Bruin, letting *you* know how to win basketball games.

UCLA Men’s Basketball team has struggled mightily for most of the season. They started the season 2-5 with five of those losses coming against competition like Loyola Marymount, Middle Tennessee State, Kansas, Michigan and Texas. Only two of those schools are ranked, sadly, and they were both double-digit losses. (In fact, all five of UCLA’s losses were by double digits.)

Of course, this all came during Reeves Nelson’s rift with head honcho Ben Howland. Nelson, arguably UCLA’s best player, seemed to be a hell of a troublemaker despite his talents. The dude was dismissed not too long ago and, guess what, the Bruins are back on their winning ways.

Following a figurative castration of UCI (a game in which the Bruins covered the 16-point spread and won 89-60), the Bruins are on a four-game winning streak that began when Nelson left the team before the game against Penn.

Aside from the win against Penn, all victories have come by double-digits, including an absolutely disgusting thrashing of UC–Davis by a score of 82-39.

What does this say? It says that this team may have had a lot of chemistry issues, especially with Reeves Nelson bogging down the ability of the coaches to build rapport with their players. Now that the apparent negativity in practices and on the court are gone, Ben Howland can get back to coaching a winning basketball program.

Just in time, too. After UCLA’s home game against Richmond, the Bruins start Pac-12 conference play, starting with a strong Stanford Cardinal team that’s had just one loss all season, which was against a ranked opponent in then-#5 Syracuse (and they only lost by six).

Let’s hope this streak continues. Go Bruins!

UCLA Women’s Volleyball captures Bruins’ 108th National Championship

OK, so let me first say this: I’m a 19-year old, single male in college.

Why is this important? Because UCLA’s women’s volleyball team just won the National Championship and because I acknowledge that, during my trips to the John Wooden Center, I have found these women to be incredibly attractive. Let’s point out the elephant in the room first so the awkwardness doesn’t linger, cool?

Seriously, though: Aside from all of the volleyball players being extremely gorgeous, these women can ball. (No kidding; they did just win the national title, duh.)

You can read the summary of the game against Illinois (who knocked off heavily-favored U$C a round prior) from the Daily Bruin or, preferably, from Bruins Nation. Either way, it’s best if I don’t regurgitate what those two sites put together better than I. Hey guys, I’m just a blogger who aggregates the news and then gives a  little insight.

(I admittedly acknowledge that I know nothing about volleyball, but I really, really find those players to be drop-dead gorgeous. All of them. I would superficially marry any one of them, even if they are all a foot taller than I am.)

Errr … this blog post is getting a little creepier than usual, and though I’m trying to keep it as inclusive as possible, I also realize that no one comments about how pretty these women are. But that’s just a dude’s perspective. Plus, since I know nothing about volleyball, how else will I kill 250 words (the amount required by Google for this to even register as a blog post)? Come on guys, I swear, I’m not shallow: I love these ladies because they’re Bruins.

Let’s raise title number 108 regardless, Westwood. Go Bruins!

Reeves Nelson is going to play pro ball in Lithuania

Remember Reeves Nelson? Of course you do. Y’know, the dude was a total pain in Coach Ben Howland’s ass, was suspended and then was dismissed from the team forever? That guy, yeah.

Well, now he’s going to get paid to act a fool elsewhere, mainly in Lithuania.

OK. What am I supposed to say to this?

Seriously, good for Reeves. The dude has had his issues throughout his UCLA career, despite being the team’s best player. His attitude needed a hell of a lot of adjusting, sure, but he could ball.

This is considering he only played in six games this season and was often benched for entire halves probably for his poor attitude. Before this season, though, Nelson averaged 13.9 points per game while shooting at 56 percent. Nelson was efficient and talented, but most likely was complacent and had a negative attitude towards the coaching staff.

In the end, it seems as if everything worked out for both sides (so far, at least). The Bruins are now coming off their first win streak of the season (beating Penn and Eastern Washington the past week) while Nelson is going to get dolla dolla bills, y’all, down in Lithuania to play some ball.

Good haul. As a Bruin, we are hoping Reeves Nelson succeeds and fluorishes like he could have here in Westwood for Ben Howland. But as a person, we would like to wish that he straightens everything out with him.

Until then? You bleed True Blue and Gold, Reeves. We’ll be pulling for you here in West LA. Get ’em, Bruin.

 

Jim Mora, Jr. is putting together a hell of a coaching staff

There are nine months of offseason chatter before the 2012 college football season begins. And though every UCLA football fan has heralded the hiring of Jim Mora, Jr., it honestly looks like the dude is making the wait unbearable in a very, very good way.

First, Mora hires Demetrice Martin, the defensive backs coach at the University of Washington, as UCLA’s DB coach. Apparently, the dude is a fine recruiter, so competition with U$C for recruits may be pretty awesome.

Then, Jim Mora, Jr. hits a home run by hiring a top-notch offensive coordinator:

Boom, Noel Mazzone, you guys. ASU fans are pretty ticked, meaning, guess what, we’re pretty damn stoked.

That’s not it, though. UCLA also hired Adrian Klem and Steve Broussard, both considered legitimate recruiters.

Holy crap. UCLA no longer seems to be a big joke and these hires speak volumes of Jim Mora’s work ethic and, apparently, respect in coaching circles. Obviously, top recruiters and coaches are looking forward to working under Mora, and that’s something we should all be excited about. Huge hires like the ones aforementioned are normally gauges to see how exciting a product we’re going to see on the football field.

I know I’ve been critical of Jim Mora, Jr. so far (what UCLA football fan hasn’t?), but the first couple of days on the job are promising. He’s obviously excited to get started and understands what this school needs to get back on track at the Rose Bowl.

Good job, Jim. Keep it up.

Here is the Jim Mora, Jr. introductory press conference

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero introduced new UCLA football head honcho Jim Mora, Jr. Here is the video:

Well, the video gets better as it goes along because Dan Guerrero eventually shuts the hell up to let Jim Mora speak.

In all honesty, Mora seems articulate, personable and optimistic. He looks legitimately happy to be the UCLA coach and he should be — he was pretty underqualified as a head coaching candidate for a job in which people speculated Chris Petersen from Boise State would occupy.

But we can knock him all we want, Bruins. We can knock him ’til the morale of our coaching staff is nothing. But that won’t do us any good. Mora proved that he knows what to say and when to say it, which is more than what we can say from ex-coaches Rick Neuheisel and Karl Dorrell.

The highlight of this press conference? Jim Mora’s following quote:

“I dont want to stand up here today and make any bold predictions or outlandish statements,  but let our actions moving forward speak for us”

Exactly. This program — our entire damned athletic department — has done a metric crap-load of making ballsy predictions and outlandish statements, yet it hasn’t done a damn thing to back these statements or predictions up. Such is the culture of the Morgan Center, and such is the way Dan Guerrero wants it.

We can’t judge Jim Mora, Jr. based on this press conference alone. However, we can critique every public move he makes. And this was a solid press conference from our new leader. He was smart and on-point and didn’t make any sleazy statements at how crappy our football program has been (aside from “it’s been a rough decade for UCLA” which is just pure truth, albeit an understatement).

Let’s see some more, Jim. Our program depends on it.