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Word From Westwood - December 6, 2011
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  12/07/2011

Dec. 6, 2011

Word From Westwood by Dan Guerrero

Word From Westwood - Deliver to Inbox

Finals week.

There is no clearer reminder than those two words as to what our enterprise is all about. As members of the Bruin family, we all enjoy the great victories that our teams put together and suffer through the losses, but it is important to remember that, in the end, we are cheering for student-athletes. More of them are likely to be doctors or lawyers or successful business people than professional athletes.

So, as our student-athletes take their fall finals this week, I wanted to thank the academic support services unit that has worked so hard with each of them to get them ready. That said, I would be remiss if I didn't wish all of the Bruins good luck in the classroom.

Without further ado, let's take a finals week gaze at the athletic department ...

Football, Part 1
I did mention last week that I will not be making any specific comments publicly on the search for a new head football coach, but I did want to thank all of you for your input and support in the process so far.

Now that the process is underway in earnest, I wanted to reiterate that most of what you have read or heard is nothing more than water cooler talk. In fact, in the past few days, there have been rumors about me supposedly traveling to some locations, speaking with certain coaches and eliminating others from consideration - nearly all of it not based in fact.

That said, I ask that you continue to be patient with us as we work diligently to find the best man for the job, and one that you will all be proud to welcome to the Bruin family.

Football, Part 2
I was certainly pleased with the effort of our team last Friday night against Oregon in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. The conference did a fantastic job of putting on its first-ever championship football game, no easy task, especially at a home venue. It was a tremendous football environment, with the ever-present raucous Duck fans at their best.

I felt good about the determination of our players and coaching staff, both in their final preparations for the game as well as on the field. I also wanted to extend a special thank you to the Bruin fans who traveled to the Pacific Northwest to support our team.

We now turn our attention to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on New Year's Eve in San Francisco. Ticket information can be found here.

Bruin Road Show - Next Step Anaheim
After taking the week off from games due to finals, the men's basketball team will play its first of four games this season at the Honda Center this Saturday afternoon against Penn. Having already seen how the folks at Citizens Business Bank Arena and the Sports Arena have rolled out the red carpet for us, I am eager to see our first game in Orange County.


Men's Soccer Heads to College Cup
After a thrilling 1-0 double-overtime victory at Louisville Saturday night that tied the school record with eight straight shutouts and avenged losses to the Cardinals earlier this season and in last year's tournament, our men's soccer team is headed to soccer's version of the Final Four - the College Cup.

The Bruins will face No.1 seed North Carolina Friday night at 5:30 pm PT in the semis on ESPNU and, with a win, would play for the national championship on Sunday at 1 pm PT, also on ESPNU.

Women's Volleyball Continues NCAA Run
The women's volleyball team, seeded ninth, also hits the road this week in NCAA Tournament action. Fresh off a pair of wins against Maryland-Eastern Shore and San Diego at the Wooden Center, the Bruins will face Penn State Friday in the semifinals of the Lexington, Kentucky regional. You can watch the UCLA-Penn State match online at ESPN3.com at 2 pm PT, and the Regional final, which will take place on Saturday at 1:30 pm PT, will air on ESPNU.

Men's Water Polo Falls in Title Match
Although the NCAA title eluded them, congratulations to men's water polo head coach Adam Wright, his assistants Daniel Leyson and Steve Gill, and all their players for finishing second in the nation. I know how special it can truly be to play on the last day of your season with a title on the line, and I commend them for their outstanding play all year.

Olympic Sports Roundup
The women's basketball team won both of its games last week, including an 84-43 win at LMU Sunday to improve to 5-2 overall under first-year head coach Cori Close. They too will be off this week for finals and will not return to action until they travel to LSU on December 13. That game will be the first of back-to-back matchups against SEC teams, with Tennessee coming to the Wooden Center on December 17 ... The women's gymnastics team is top-ranked nationally in the preseason poll for the second consecutive season (they finished second at NCAAs last year) ... Women's swimming competed at the Texas Invite over the weekend, with Laurence Delisle and Yasi Jahanshahi leading the way with season-bests and NCAA "A" qualifying times ...


Golf Notes
UCLA Women's Golf Coach Carrie Forsyth will be inducted into the National Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame today at the Planet Hollywood Hotel in Las Vegas. She joins former UCLA coaching legend Jackie Tobian Steinmann in the Hall ... Congratulation to senior and three-time first-team All-American Stephanie Kono, who has earned full status on the LPGA Tour for 2012 after finishing in a tie for ninth at last week's Qualifying Tournament. The road through "Q-School" was not an easy one, as Stephanie had to play 90 holes over five days last week after previously playing 144 holes earlier this year ... Men's golfer Patrick Cantlay, the world's top amateur, has received an exemption into the 2012 British Open at Royal Lytham next July. He is the first amateur at UCLA to ever receive a British Open exemption. Cantlay has also received an exemption into the 2012 Masters.

A Point of Clarification ...
The date for our annual football banquet is Monday, December 12. It was mistakenly mentioned as a Tuesday.

Ask Dan Question of the Week
Q: With a team that has a sub- .500 record, why go to a bowl game?
David Baumann

A: As I mentioned last week when the NCAA accepted our waiver petition, as a department, we wanted to be able to reward the student-athletes who suit up every day to represent our fine university on the football field. More importantly, we wanted a proper send-off for our 18-member senior class, which demonstrated so many of the leadership qualities we look for in student-athletes throughout their time here at UCLA.

Additionally, the extra days of practice will allow all our student-athletes to work on technique and other developmental aspects of their game.

Finally, these young men have been leaders on and off the field, and they deserve to don the UCLA colors one more time against a Big Ten opponent in Illinois and have the chance to end their collegiate careers on a high note.

Thank you all for your submissions - please know that each question submitted was read, and please don't forget to submit a question to questions@athletics.ucla.edu this week.

Go Bruins!

Dan Guerrero
Director of Athletics, UCLA

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