Sept. 6, 2000
UCLA VS. UC IRVINE: The preseason No. 1 UCLA men's water polo team (0-0) kicks off the official start to the 2000 season on Saturday, Sept. 9, by travelling to MPSF rival No. 6 UC Irvine (0-0) for a noon match-up.
Saturday marks the 102nd meeting between these teams, with the Anteaters holding a 54-46-1 series advantage. UC Irvine returns 12 letterwinners from a squad that finished 7-17 last season and finished 12th in the national polls. Ted Newland, 1998 MPSF Co-Coach of the Year, enters his 35th year at the helm of the Anteaters' water polo program. UC Irvine returns its top five scorers from last season, including honorable mention All-American Tony Grosso, who scored 28 points last season. The Anteaters' leading scorer from 1999, junior Jeff Powers is back after scoring 33 points a year ago. In goal is senior Dan Hipp, who has seen limited action during his UCI career. He played in five games last season and recorded 41 saves.
UCLA SEASON OUTLOOK: Co-head coaches Guy Baker and Adam Krikorian have an experienced and confident core of veterans ready to take the pool in 2000. This UCLA squad boasts 16 returning letterwinners comprised of six seniors, three juniors and seven sophomores.
Looking to lead the Bruins to a second consecutive national champion is 2000 Olympian and 1999 NCAA Player of the Year Sean Kern (Honolulu, HI, Punahou). Last season, Kern was the recipient of the first ever Peter J. Cutino Award, and led the team in scoring for the third consecutive year with a career-high 55 points. Although Kern will miss the first eight games of the season to compete in Sydney, there is a talented core of seniors that looks to lead the team in the early part of the year. Three-time All-American Adam Wright (Seal Beach, Wilson HS) had 48 points for the Bruins at the playmaker spot last year, earning second-team All-MPSF honors. Senior Dave Parker (Orinda, Miramonte HS) will fill in for Kern at the two-meter spot to start the season.
The defense will be led by a pair of returning All-Americans, Brian Brown (Santa Ana, Foothill HS) and Blake Wellen (Mill Valley, Tamalpais HS). Wellen will be one of the main two-meter defenders, after tying for the team lead with seven field saves last year. Brown will team with classmate Andy Bailey (San Clemente, San Clemente HS) to anchor the defense and serve as catalysts for the Bruins' lethal counter attack. Starting in goal is All-American Brandon Brooks (Honolulu, HI, Punahou HS). As a true freshman last season, he earned NCAA All-Tournament second-team honors while leading UCLA to the national title.
PRESEASON RANKINGS: In the first United States Water Polo National Collegiate Division I poll of the season, the Bruins were ranked No. 1. The Bruins' 2000 schedule includes all but one of the top-10 teams.
LAST WEEKEND: The Bruins began the season by playing at the Wasko Scrimmage Tournament at Pepperdine last Saturday. The Bruins battled Cal Baptist, UC San Diego and Pepperdine in three-period scrimmages.