Jan. 17, 2012
As much as I always stress what the future holds for UCLA Athletics, I have always been mindful and respectful of the past. This reflection includes not only what has happened at our fine institution, but what has occurred in our great nation and the world as a whole.
Had it not been for extraordinary individuals who came before us, we would never find ourselves leading the everyday lives we lead today. Among those extraordinary individuals is the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and as we celebrate his memory this week, let us give thanks to the man who did so much for so many, yet did not truly live to see the full fruits of his labor. This great man and many of his efforts led to a very different landscape in America, including in college sports, and we are forever indebted to him for his contributions.
Mora's Staff Finalized
Thanks to the hiring of Washington Redskins assistant coach Lou Spanos as Defensive Coordinator earlier today, Jim Mora's football coaching staff is now complete. Lou brings 15 years of coaching in the National Football League with him to Westwood. With him in the fold, the entire coaching staff, including Jim, now totals more than 90 years of experience in the NFL as either a player or coach and six Super Bowls, three for Lou as a coach and three for Adrian Klemm as a player.
Lou has mentored some of the best defensive players in the game over the last two decades, including 12 linebackers who have been named to the Pro Bowl, among them: Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, James Farrior and James Harrison with the Steelers; and London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo with the Redskins. We look forward to seeing him and the rest of Jim's coaching staff on the field this spring. The staff has the makings of being one of the best in college football.
Men's Hoops Travels Continue with Road Trip in Oregon
On the heels of an impressive victory at USC Sunday night, the men's basketball team will spend this weekend in Oregon, with a date against Oregon State in Corvallis on Thursday night, followed by an afternoon tilt in Eugene on Saturday. With three straight Pac-12 Conference wins under its belt and a 3-2 record in league play, Coach Ben Howland's team will need to maintain the momentum it has generated the last two weeks as it continues to keep pace with conference co-leaders Cal and Stanford, both 5-1.
Women's Basketball Looks for Midas Touch
Despite fighting through a rash of injuries this season, the women's basketball team still finds itself in the thick of things in the Pac-12 Conference standings (a testament to the exemplary job that coach Cori Close and her staff have done) as it enters this week's games against the Oregon schools at the Wooden Center. Oregon State will visit Thursday at 7pm, while Oregon comes calling at 1 pm Saturday. I was delighted to see so many fans at the USC game last Saturday and look forward to the same level of fan support this weekend.
Gymnastics Vaults Ahead of Cal, Faces San Jose State
Thanks to a perfect score on the vault from redshirt (or "blueshirt" as Miss Val likes to say) junior and 2010 NCAA vault champion Vanessa Zamarripa last Sunday, the women's gymnastics team defeated Cal on the road to improve to 2-0 on the season. This week, the Bruins return to the Wooden Center for a dual meet at 2 pm on Sunday vs. the San Jose State Spartans.
This meet is the team's annual Heart of a Champion meet, which helps raise funds for Camp del Corazon, a non-profit organization that sends children with heart disease to a summer camp. Heart disease is an issue very close to the Bruin family as Associate Head Coach Chris Waller was born with a congenital heart defect and underwent his first open heart surgery at age 15. It's a great cause, and Val and her team should be proud of what they do for this wonderful charity.
Men's Volleyball Opens Conference Play against Stanford
The men's volleyball team, ranked #3 in the nation, dropped just one set over the course of three matches, including a sweep of its hosts from the University of Hawaii in its last match to win its seventh Outrigger Hotels Invitational last weekend. Al Scates and his team play their MPSF Conference and home opener against Stanford this Friday night at the Wooden Center before hosting Pacific Saturday. A large crowd is expected for Friday, so please plan accordingly.
Olympic Sports Report
The men's and women's track teams both compete in the "Run for the Dream" Invitational in Fresno this weekend ... The women's water polo team gets its season under way as it plays its first three matches of the year (two Friday, one Saturday) at the University of Michigan ... The men's tennis team hosts BYU Friday afternoon at the LATC to open up its 2012 home season ... Congratulations to women's tennis players Courtney Dolehide and Pamela Montez, who took home the Flight-I doubles title at the 2012 Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships at UNLV last weekend ... Kudos also to freshman Emma Ivory-Ganja, who won the Stanford Invite's platform diving title last weekend, and to the swimming team, which came away with two dual meet victories against conference teams Oregon State and Utah to improve to 4-2 (2-2 Pac-12) on the season.
Ask Dan Guerrero
Q: Can something be done in the future to prevent men and women's basketball games from being scheduled at the same time? I believe the women's games were scheduled on Fridays and Sundays several years ago.
A: June, thank you for the question. As a general rule, we try to avoid conflicts between the starting times for men's and women's basketball games on a given weekend, but that is not always easily accomplished. It is important to note that, per the Pac-12 Conference, the days of the week on which the games are played must mirror one another. Our broadcast partners have the latitude to change the schedule to optimize a viewing audience, as was the case with the men's basketball game this past Sunday at the Galen Center.
Additionally, the men's tipoff times, especially for road games, are also determined by the league's TV partners. Unfortunately, the schedule they determine often coincides with our women's basketball home games.
As we enter a new era next fall with the launch of the Pac-12 Network and the televising of all UCLA's men's basketball games, there will be further uncertainty about the schedule and potential conflicts, but be assured that we will be doing all we can to continue to keep conflicts to a minimum, knowing that many UCLA fans are avid supporters of both the men's and the women's team.
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