May 22, 2012
The very hectic month of May winds down for our spring sports teams this week and next.
As the intensity of their classwork picks up with Spring Quarter final exams right around the corner, so too does the competition, as most of our teams were, or are involved in NCAA Championship play, testing them to truly live up to the moniker of student-athlete.
Understanding that, I hope you know, as I do, that there is no time like the present to support them as a Bruin fan, knowing that the pressure for many of them is at its highest levels for the year.
Even if you haven't been out to our games or matches, I know that many of you spend time following the progress of our teams on our website. It is great that the NCAA has ramped up their media coverage of certain Olympic sports over the years, most notably baseball and softball on ESPN. Meanwhile, other sports, most recently tennis and golf, are experiencing additional coverage as well, through video streaming. My hope is that coverage for these Olympic sports also gains a foothold in more conventional media platforms, which still includes television, but, going forward, also computers, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
The amount of coverage being generated by our sports is exactly why the Pac-12 Networks, which will launch later this year, will be so exciting. Most UCLA teams, not just football and men's basketball, will be prominently featured on the networks. As we speak, we are working with the conference to finalize schedules for our fall and winter sports that will likely look very different than they have in past years. At this point, we still do not know the full implications of these changes, but will let you know as soon as they are determined.
With the networks' need to deliver a great deal of live programming on a daily basis, adjustments will be made to our traditional scheduling models for virtually all of our sports. As a department, be assured that we will do all we can to continue to support our student-athletes' aspirations as they strive to be the best they can be on and off their chosen field of play.
As for the competition we find ourselves in right now, we all know that true Bruins rise to the occasion, no matter how intense the pressure may be, and I, for one, look forward to seeing how the next two weeks unfold, especially with so many teams competing at the pinnacle of their sport.
A quick look around the UCLA spring sports landscape over the two weeks ahead is as follows:
* The nation's #1 women's golf team has already begun competing in the NCAA Championships in Cool Springs, Tennessee and will do so through Friday.
* The #7-ranked women's rowing team is looking for the program's best-ever placement in the NCAA Championships in Princeton, New Jersey, starting on Friday.
* Several track and field athletes (both men and women) will be flying to Austin, Texas Wednesday morning to participate in the NCAA Regional hosted by the University of Texas this holiday weekend, hoping to earn a spot in the NCAA Championships in early June.
* The #3-ranked men's golf team is finalizing its preparations for the NCAA Championships, which begin right in our backyard at Riviera Country Club next Tuesday (May 29) and are being hosted by our cross-town rivals.
Meanwhile, the #9-ranked baseball team wraps up its regular season with a three-game weekend series at Jackie Robinson Stadium against USC. Be sure to get to the ballpark early as the stands will fill up quickly for the important series against the Trojans. This is especially the case with the Bruins coming off another road series victory last weekend, taking two of three against Cal despite missing a couple of starters due to illness and injury.
A positive result against USC may secure us a slot as a regional host in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. I can tell you from personal experience that, whenever an NCAA selection committee evaluates the performance of a given team, one part of the criteria that gets significant attention is a team's road wins. No team in America has played better than UCLA on the road this year. Well done Bruins!
Kudos also to the UCLA teams who saw their seasons end in NCAA tournament play this week:
* The #1-ranked women's tennis team finished as national runners up to #2-ranked Florida earlier this afternoon after a dominating performance in the first three rounds of the tournament and a hard-fought 4-3 victory over USC in the semifinals yesterday.
* The #3-ranked men's tennis team, who made a valiant run through the tournament, finished tied for third place late Monday night in a loss in the national semifinals.
* The softball team (#12 seed) saw its season end on its home field at Easton Stadium last weekend with a loss to Florida State in an NCAA Regional.
Additionally, congratulations to five special Bruins! Former student-athletes Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Dr. Dot Richardson, UCLA Law School graduate Val Ackerman and former UCLA student Michelle Kwan were all named to the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) "40 FOR 40" list. This is an exclusive group of forty women who made a significant impact on society after playing sports in high school or college during the forty years of the Title IX era. In addition, Sue Enquist, former UCLA Softball player and coach, was selected as a "Plus Four" Honorary designee.
Ask Dan Question of the Week
Q: When will the men's basketball schedule for 2012-2013 be finalized and announced?
A: Sam, since Ben Howland and his staff landed this stellar recruiting class, many fans are excited and have inquired about the availability of season tickets in New Pauley, as well as the timing for our 2012-13 season schedule.
Last year was the first time in many years that we announced the men's basketball schedule prior to June, partly due to our team embarking on the Bruin Road Show last season with New Pauley under construction. While we would prefer to release the schedule as early as possible, with the launch of the Pac-12 Networks this summer, we are proceeding with caution and utilizing the extra time to help facilitate the selections of our conference media partners.
That said, we hope to have a schedule out by the end of May, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Please note, however, that at this juncture we are not able to announce our opponents for the two games that will be played at Pauley as part of the pre-season Legends Classic. This will occur as soon as we are given the green light to proceed. In addition, it is important to note that the schedule we release later this month will still be preliminary. While there won't be changes in the opponents, we could still be subject to a several modifications to dates and/or start times by the conference due to future television selections.
Thank you all for your submissions - please know that each question submitted was read, and please don't forget to submit a question to firstname.lastname@example.org this week.
Director of Athletics, UCLA