June 5, 2012
It was indeed a rare treat to have the NCAA Men's Golf Championship conducted in our own backyard this past week at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. Our team battled valiantly before being eliminated for the second year in a row in the quarterfinals, on the first day of match play competition.
This result came after three days of stroke play to open the tournament that landed the Bruins in second place to that point.
All Bruin fans can be extremely proud of what the team accomplished this season. They remained one of the top teams in the country all year long and finished among the nation's best at season's end. That said, "What might have been," however, is an operative statement for what follows. I have been, and remain, truly disappointed for what can only be described as an unusual nuance in the NCAA national championship format.
After competing with 29 other institutions in three days of stroke play to open the championships, each of the top eight teams remaining must change gears and mindset, literally overnight, and prepare for the unique challenge of match play. Of course, our Bruins found themselves in a dogfight with Pac-12 Conference rival Oregon just to get to the semifinal round. In the end, the Ducks had an excellent day against us, and we were left on the outside looking in.
The NCAA's rationale for changing to a dual (stroke and match play) format in 2009 is that it was believed that the match play format created the most drama and made the sport easier to package for the broadcast media, whether television or online. I'm not convinced that the format change has accomplished those objectives. In fact, the event has yet to be televised by a network.
In addition, the change of formats midway through the tournament makes for a disjointed feel to the championship. Match play is a seldom-used format during the regular collegiate season, nor is it a staple on the PGA Tour. In fact, none of the four majors on the PGA Tour are decided by match play, and, in the four years that the NCAA has employed this method of determining the champion, only one top-seeded team has won the title, this year's University of Texas team.
I would prefer to see some consistency in format throughout the duration of the event to give all of us in the enterprise of collegiate athletics the dramatic championship we all desire.
Baseball Sweeps Regional, Prepares to Host TCU in Super Regional
I was delighted to be in the stands at Jackie Robinson Stadium last weekend as the baseball team swept its three games in the Los Angeles Regional behind some outstanding pitching and clutch hitting to advance to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament. The team played superbly and will be ready for this weekend's competition.
Next up for the Bruins will be TCU, winner of the College Station Regional. After coming through the losers' bracket, the Horned Frogs defeated Ole Miss on consecutive nights to take home the regional crown.
Tickets for the entire Super Regional are on sale now at the UCLA Central Ticket Office. Individual game tickets are not yet on sale and will only be sold (subject to availability) on-site at JRS and online on the day of each game. If you were at JRS last weekend, thank you for coming out and doing your part to propel the Bruins to victory. That said, we will need you again this weekend, so come on back, and this time bring a friend or two so we can truly enjoy a home-field advantage. I will be there and hope to see you there!
Several Track & Field Competitors Hit the Road for NCAAs
Meanwhile, several members of the UCLA men's and women's track and field teams departed yesterday for the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
On the men's side, Mike Woepse, the nation's top pole vaulter; discus thrower Matthew Kosecki; decathlete Marcus Milsson; hammer thrower Alec Faldemeyer; javelin thrower Derek Eager; 200m runner Maxwell Dyce; and the 4x100m relay squad will compete. The women will be represented by hammer thrower Ida Storm, long-jumper Kylie Price, hurdler Turquoise Thompson and the 4x400m relay team.
The competition starts tomorrow and continues through Saturday. For real-time results, please click here.
John Speraw Takes Reins of Men's Volleyball Program
After the bittersweet retirement of men's volleyball head coach Al Scates this season, it gave me great pleasure earlier today to welcome his successor, John Speraw, back to Westwood after 10 seasons as the head coach at UC Irvine.
John played middle blocker for us from 1992-95 and was a member of two national championship teams and won two more as an assistant coach at UCLA before taking over the Irvine program in 2003. Under his direction, the Anteaters won three NCAA titles in the last six years (including a championship in 2012) and won two MPSF regular season titles and a pair of MPSF Tournament championships.
Al has certainly set the bar high here at UCLA, but I'm sure John will be up to the challenge, and we are very glad to have this great Bruin back in the saddle.
Men's Hoops Slate Announced - Season Tickets on Sale Last Thursday, we were able to announce the 2012-13 men's basketball schedule. For those who missed it, the entire schedule is available here.
The highlights of the season include our first game in New Pauley against Indiana State on Nov.9, as well as non-conference contests in the Legends Classic at Brooklyn's Barclays Center (Nov. 19-20); in the John R. Wooden Classic vs. San Diego State in Honda Center (Dec. 1); a game vs. Texas in Houston's Reliant Stadium (Dec. 8); and home games against NCAA Tournament teams Long Beach State (Dec. 18) and Missouri (Dec. 28). Season tickets for the 2012-13 UCLA Men's Basketball campaign are still on sale. For more information or to purchase season tickets, click here or call 310-UCLA-WIN.
Student-Athletes Take on Mentoring Role for Special Event
In another example of the depth of their character, nearly 70 of our student-athletes came together last weekend to serve as mentors in Championship Saturday of the Prime Time Games. The games are a full inclusion, peer mentor sports program, wherein economically disadvantaged and underserved middle school students from the Team Prime Time after-school program coach and play alongside children with special needs, including autism, in the only after-school sports program of its kind.
I am thrilled that they again decided to come to UCLA for their biggest event of the year and that so many of our Bruins stepped up for a great cause.
OC Bruin Bash a Rousing Success
This past Saturday, the Wooden Athletic Fund hosted its sixth annual Orange County Bruin Bash at the beautiful home of Barry Saywitz in Newport Beach. The event featured wonderful food, silent and live auctions, live entertainment and an opportunity for Bruin fans in Orange County to visit with several current UCLA head coaches and Bruin legends. This year's "Bash" raised more than $50,000 for the Wooden Athletic Fund, all of which will go towards benefitting our more than 700 student-athletes. In addition to thanking Barry for opening his home to us, I wanted to give special thanks to Ann Morris, Tim DeCinces, Joe Kazemi and the many other volunteers who gave their time and effort to help make this a very special event.
Speaking of our development unit, I also wanted to mention that the final event on Head Football Coach Jim Mora's very successful spring speaking tour will be on Tuesday, June 19 at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego. The reception will begin at 6 pm, and Coach Mora will get behind the microphone at about 7 pm. Tickets purchased before June 15 will cost $25, and, space permitting, tickets will be available at the door for $35.
Ask Dan Question of the Week
Though I was excited to see the 2012-13 men's basketball schedule released last week, I was surprised to see that there is going to be an exhibition game after some regular season games. What is the reasoning behind that?
A: There were a lot of factors in deciding when to schedule the men's exhibition game.
Traditionally, exhibition games have come before any regular season contests, but doing so would not have allowed us to give New Pauley Pavilion the opening celebration it richly deserves. Out of respect to the Pauley family and, of course, Coach Wooden, whose success at UCLA led to the original pavilion being built, we felt it only appropriate to open the new building's doors with a regular-season game. After determining that, we ultimately decided it would be against Indiana State, the only other school at which Coach Wooden was the head coach during his storied career.
Those factors, combined with the fact that we will play nine games in the first 30 calendar days of the season, including two all the way on the other side of the country in the Legends Classic and one in Houston against Texas, gave us little choice on dates for the exhibition. Given the compact nature of the early-season schedule, I met with Coach Howland extensively to establish the best date for an exhibition. Together, we determined that playing that game in the mid-week prior to the Texas road trip not only gives the team a chance to "catch our breath" a little bit before playing a very good team on the road, but also gives the coaching staff an opportunity to work on some adjustments in a game setting that they would not be able to do in practice alone.
Next year, we may indeed revert to the traditional scheduling format of exhibition games first, but it is too soon to tell at this point.
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