Monthly Archives: May 2014

UCLA Baseball Misses NCAAs After Injury-Riddled Season

Pac12LogoThe NCAA baseball tournament field was announced on Memorial Day, and UCLA—a recent fixture in college baseball’s postseason slate—was officially left off the bracket.

Of course, this is no surprise. UCLA finished with a 25-30-1 record, and thus weren’t considered a bubble team by any college baseball fans or observers.

In any case, this will be the first time the Bruins failed to make the postseason tournament since 2009, and only the second time since 2005. Since the arrival of head baseball coach John Savage, this is only the third time the Bruins have failed to make the NCAA regionals in his decade-long tenure. UCLA’s 25 wins is also the lowest win total of a John Savage-coached UCLA team since his inaugural season in 2005.  Continue reading

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UCLA Basketball: Zach LaVine’s Ascent in NBA Mock Drafts Similar to Recruiting Trajectory

Zach_LaVineAt the end of UCLA’s basketball season in March, college hoops pundits and fans alike lambasted freshman guard Zach LaVine’s decision to turn pro.

The skepticism was reasonable, and perhaps even accurate. LaVine started off his short tenure with UCLA with a bang, averaging 13 points a game for the squad’s first 11 tilts. In that same time period, LaVine shot at a 55 percent clip (and at a 43 percent rate from downtown). But after that, LaVine’s performance suffered dramatically. After the Duke game (shortly before the start of the conference play), in which LaVine scored just 7 points off of 3-for-12 shooting, the freshman sensation would average just 7.8 points a contest, shooting at an embarrassing 38 percent clip from the floor, and a pedestrian 34 percent clip from downtown. Given his primary talents and skills were tailored around scoring, these are concerning numbers.

Yet, LaVine’s showing at the NBA combine has negated nearly all of that. With teams, scouts, and media members lauding his raw athleticism and disconnected set of skills, LaVine has somehow found himself squarely in position to be taken by a lottery team in the upcoming draft. After a disappointing season left NBA draftniks wondering whether LaVine would even be a first-rounder, it’s apparent that he’s probably not falling out of the lottery, and he’s most certainly not dropping into the late-20s.

This story should sound somewhat familiar to UCLA fans, though. During the 2012-13 season, and for some time afterwards, LaVine was shooting up the recruiting rankings, too.  Continue reading

UCLA Football’s Defense Bolsters Bruin’s Hype Legitimacy

For the first time in awhile, casual and serious observers of the college football world will keep a mindful eye on the UCLA football program. Jim Mora’s successful first season ended with a whimper, but in his second season as head coach, the Bruins managed to improve their overall record (from 9-5 to 10-3) despite a much more difficult schedule.

Even with that improvement, UCLA rarely looked like a national title contender for an entire game. Though the box scores tell a different story, the Bruins’ offense was normally the source of frustration. Noel Mazzone’s play-calling and decision-making came into question regularly, and his uncharacteristically conservative approach left the task of slaying solid teams almost entirely to his defense. Against Oregon, for example, the Bruins held Oregon to 14 points in the first half and 21 points through three quarters, but had only scored 14 points the entire game themselves. (Although it’s important to note that Brett Hundley looked indecisive at times, as is his custom, and the UCLA offensive line was a bit of a patch job for much of the season.) In many instances, UCLA’s defense anchored the Bruins, while the offense sometimes felt useless and even counterproductive.

Did an offensive romping of USC and Virginia Tech change all of that, though? Were the final two games of the season enough to convince observers that the Bruins were, indeed, for real, and had finally grown up, and that the offense was to take the credit?

Not entirely. The hype began when Brett Hundley announced he’d be returning for his junior season, in an announcement that got UCLA fans ready to run through a few walls.

Of course, the idea that Brett Hundley is the sole reason this team went from preseason top-25 team to national contender is one that’s pretty off-base. While quarterbacks are really damn important, it’s unreasonable to say that Hundley’s the sole reason.

Continue reading

UCLA is back, and so am I

A lot has changed since February 2012. Back then, UCLA football was an also-ran, a near-dumpster-fire program that saw Rick Neuheisel ousted as the (rightful) goat of the program’s descent. Today, though, UCLA football is a program on the rise, and a serious dark-horse for a shot at a national title.

Back then, “a shot at a national title” meant being ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in a kinda-sorta arbitrary system of ranking college football programs, what used to be the BCS. Today, having a shot at a natty means being ranked in the top-four by a select group of committee members, and duking it out in a playoff format.

Back then, I was a fresh-faced, first-year UCLA transfer student, wide-eyed and blinded by the big lights. Today, I’m a grizzled vet with a degree, workin’ at a non-profit full-time.

And back then, I gave up this blog — Sons of Westwood — for a new gig at Go Joe Bruin at FanSided.com. Today, I’m just a tweeter. But I’m also back from my writing hiatus. I love writing too much to stay away, and I love UCLA far too much to shut up about them and keep my thoughts contained within 140 characters.

My approach will be different, though. I won’t be blogging here for the purpose of building a portfolio or working my way through the ranks of the blogosphere. I won’t be presenting myself as an alternative to my old site, or that one site from across town.

I’ll just be here to write about UCLA and gain a dedicated audience; an audience that’ll listen to my opinions and, just maybe, disagrees with me on them.

Stay tuned, yo.