Feb. 19, 2013
This is the final full week of February, and as it does every year, this week falls squarely in the stretch run of the winter sports season. Stretch runs are often characterized by important matchups that can dramatically affect a team's regular season standings.
For three of our squads, that takes on added meaning because they face not just any program this week, but their crosstown rival, USC, in pivotal contests. The UCLA men's volleyball team started it off Monday night, recording a 3-0 sweep over the Trojans in perhaps their finest performance of the season at the Galen Center, and the men's and women's basketball teams will each face USC this week with a lot on the line...
Women's Basketball Plays Home-and-Home Series with USC This Week
After hosting both Cal and Stanford a week ago in a pair of games that saw fans come out in droves to support the Bruins, the UCLA women's basketball team (19-6 overall, 10-4 in conference) faces the odd circumstance of playing crosstown rival USC twice in five days this week.
The Bruins and Trojans will meet at the Galen Center tonight at 8 pm on the Pac-12 Networks and then in Pauley on Sunday at 2 pm. The home game marks the second straight Sunday afternoon contest at Pauley for the Bruins and comes on the heels of a loud and boisterous crowd for Dads and Daughters Day last Sunday afternoon.
Coach Cori Close is calling on all Bruins fans to come out and support her team in record numbers when they host the Trojans Sunday afternoon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310-UCLA-WIN (825-2946) or order online here.
The game will also signify the return of UCLA's long-standing "I'm Going to College" program, through which UCLA combines a college fair with a sporting event, allowing many students who would not otherwise be exposed to "the college experience" to have the chance to participate in it first-hand.
Men's Basketball Earns Split in NorCal, Continues Season at USC Sunday
The UCLA men's basketball team (19-7 overall, 9-4 in conference), just one game out of the lead in the Pac-12 standings, plays once this week -- on the road next Sunday afternoon, at USC.
Last week, the Bruins fell to Cal Thursday in Berkeley before bouncing back and defeating Stanford Saturday in Palo Alto.
After the USC game Sunday, UCLA returns to Pauley Pavilion for its final two home games of the season next week when it hosts Arizona State at 8:30 pm Wednesday and Arizona at 6 pm Saturday.
Limited tickets remain for both games. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310-UCLA-WIN (825-2946).
Reminder: Be in the House for College GameDay on March 2
In case you missed the initial announcement earlier, please remember to mark your calendars for Saturday, March 2, when Pauley Pavilion hosts ESPN's College GameDay Covered by State Farm.
UCLA fans will be allowed entry to Pauley Pavilion as early as 5 am, and event programming will begin at 5:30 am. All fans interested in being a part of the festivities are encouraged to line up outside the northwest entrance of Pauley Pavilion.
Admission is free, and only fans wearing blue or UCLA gear will be admitted. Tasteful signs are always welcomed and encouraged and, of course, increase a fan's chance of being seen on TV.
NCAA Art Collection Will Be in Pauley for the Arizona State Game
The NCAA, in partnership with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the NABC Foundation, has commissioned world-renowned sports artist Opie Otterstad to paint a one-of-a-kind piece of art for each of the 75 years of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, highlighting the coach of the national championship team. At the end of the project, all of the artwork will fit together as one large piece to tell the story of 75 years of the NCAA Division I college basketball tournament.
UCLA will unveil 11 pieces of art, representing its 11 National Championships at the game against Arizona State on February 27. All 75 original pieces, including the 11 UCLA pieces, will then be available for viewing and for sale at Gallery 319 from February 28 through March 7.
After the gallery show, the artwork, if not sold, will be posted online for auction at www.ncaa.com/Art, along with 250 limited edition prints of each painting that will be for sale.
Baseball Opens 2013 Campaign with Series Win Against Minnesota
After three robust opening weekend crowds, and after having formally unveiled a new LED scoreboard at Jackie Robinson Stadium, the #3-ranked UCLA baseball team took two out of three games at home against the Golden Gophers to open the 2013 season.
The Bruins outscored Minnesota 30-7 on aggregate, and this week will make their first-ever visit to Waco, Texas to take on Baylor in a three-game set Friday-Sunday.
Olympic Sports Report
- The #3-ranked men's tennis team was in action at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors in Seattle over the weekend, dropping an extremely close 4-3 decision to No. 2 USC in the semifinals. The Bruins (9-1) opened the tournament with a 4-1 victory over No. 14 Tennessee in the round of 16, followed by a 4-1 win over No. 6 Georgia in the quarterfinals. The Bruins and Trojans will square off again this Friday at USC beginning at 3 pm.
- The #3-ranked women's water polo team improved to 13-1 on the year by posting a 9-6 win over #6 UC Irvine last Friday. The Bruins return to action this week when they travel to UC Irvine for the UCI Invitational. The Bruins open the two-day, four-game event against #16 UC San Diego at 11:30 am Saturday.
- The #4-ranked men's golf team completes play in The Prestige at PGA West this week, with the final round coming on Wednesday.
- In the first of a tough three-meet road swing against Top 15 opponents, the #5-ranked gymnastics team suffered its first loss of the season at Oregon State, 196.725-196.075, on Saturday. The 7-1 Bruins will next travel to #2-ranked and undefeated Oklahoma on Friday in a meet that will be televised by Fox College Sports Central.
- The #7-ranked UCLA men's volleyball team swept #9 USC Monday night at the Galen Center, setting a league season record by hitting .522 for the match. The Bruins next travel to #4 Pepperdine on Saturday night for their second straight conference showdown.
- The #14 women's swimming and diving squad dropped a decision at #1 USC last Saturday. They are off from competition this week as they prepare for the Pac-12 Championships (Feb. 27-March 2) in Federal Way, Wash.
- The #18 ranked softball team went 5-0 last weekend at the Easton Desert Classic. This weekend, the Bruins head to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. for five games, including a pair against ranked teams (Tennessee and LSU).
- For the second weekend in a row, the men's and women's track and field teams excelled in back-to-back meets. On Saturday, at the Claremont Winter Throws Invitational, men's discus thrower Julian Wruck was outstanding in his UCLA debut, posting a distance of 212'11", which ranks second all-time in school history. The Bruins continued their success Sunday at the Run for the Dream Invitational, claiming nine individual event crowns and setting three meet records.
- The women's golf team won its first tournament of the season last week, capturing the team title at the Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge by nine strokes over USC. Sophomore Erynne Lee won her second collegiate title, posting an even par 213 over 54 holes, including a final round 69 (-2). Later this week, the Bruins will compete in the All-State Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Golf Championship, hosted by Tulane in New Orleans.
- Following a second-place finish at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the #2-ranked women's tennis team (6-1) had a week off from competition. The Bruins resume action in the Bay Area this weekend, taking on #8 Cal on Friday in Berkeley and #45 St. Mary's on Saturday in Moraga.
So many of our student-athletes are successful in professions outside of sports, but it is great to see that in any given week on the amateur and professional sports scene, a Bruin alumnus is making some type of splash or major contribution to his or her team's success. Just recently, seeing Jrue Holiday represent their respective conferences in the NBA All-Star game, Brendon Ayanbadejo win a Super Bowl as a member of the Baltimore Ravens and Zakiya Bywaters being selected as the #1 overall pick in the draft for the new National Women's Soccer League, represent a few examples of the mark being made by Bruins across the sports landscape. Those were all fantastic accomplishments.
What happened on Sunday afternoon at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, however, warmed my heart and the hearts of many Bruins who were pulling for UCLA alumnus John Merrick to win his first PGA crown. One couldn't help but be captivated by the performance of the Long Beach native, who won the Northern Trust Open on the second playoff hole against Charlie Beljan. It was especially great to see one of our own do so well in the professional ranks right in our own backyard.
With the win, Merrick, a 2004 sociology graduate, and one of five Bruin alums in the tournament field, became the first native of Los Angeles County to win the event, marking his first career win. In addition, he moves up to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings and earns a two-year exemption on the PGA TOUR through 2015.
It was made all the more special to me that he captured the championship on the 10th hole, the very hole at which we hosted "UCLA Day" activities for Bruin fans the day prior. This was a win, not only for John and his family, but for the entire Bruin family. The telecast showed scores of Bruins walking the course in their UCLA shirts and caps. One could hear "Go Bruin" shouts after he made a big putt or walked to the next tee. Kudos also should go to Jim Nantz and his colleagues at CBS for making it a point to reference John's UCLA connection at every opportune juncture.
Finally, how great was it to see John hug his son and newborn daughter, and his wife Jody (also a Bruin and a former water polo student-athlete) after winning the title? The emotion was genuine and heartfelt, and you cannot help but thinking how wonderful it will be to see that scene again in the future.
On a truly beautiful late winter day in Los Angeles, John reminded us again how great it is to be a Bruin! Thank you, John, and congratulations.
UCLA Athletic Director