Category Archives: UCLA

Monday Morning Coffee

November 25, 2019

The Lakers are 14-2. Lebron has never gotten off to a start this good with any team. Hey Jackie McMullon and Brian Windhorst….not bad for a team that is “a work in progress” right? I can’t wait to see what they look like when they do, because they are already a defensive juggernaut. Weird because I thought they were supposed to be flawed defensively, and that Rob Pelinka was a novice. Where are all those people now? It’s a long season, and a lot can happen between now and June, but if this team stays healthy, no reason they aren’t going to be a legitimate title contender. These ESPN NBA analysts are more inaccurate than a Southern California Weather Man.

As for the Clippers, they have been finding the win column as well now that they have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard on the floor together. There’s a lot of skill set duplication with these two, but defensively, they can be very good when they want to, which we saw on Friday against the Rockets. That was a great game to watch between two very annoying teams that deserve Oscar Awards. James Harden is a phenomenal player, but his ability to manipulate referees into sending him to the foul line makes the game very unwatchable. As if that’s not annoying enough, Doc Rivers might as well be defending the three-point line since he’s so far onto the court in the 4th quarter. Then there’s Patrick Beverly who is out here acting like he just got tazed.

Speaking of the NBA, I can appreciate the idea of Adam Silver’s radical proposals. I love the idea of re-seeding at the conference finals to insure the finals are played with the two best teams. That’s a good compromise as opposed to seeding 1-16 to start the playoffs, which would cause additional travel fatigue for some teams. As for the in-season tournament, as long it doesn’t replace the All-Star game, I’m in favor. This could reduce tanking, load management, and make some of of the smaller market teams more relevant. If executed properly, it has great potential for success. You can thank the Clippers load management of Kawhi for getting the league to its breaking point on this issue.

To College Football, where I’ve never seen a weirder UCLA-USC game then Saturday at the Coliseum. Both teams fan bases wanted the other side to win, all because of the fate of Clay Helton. That’s right….UCLA fans want Helton to stay to keep the team in mediocrity, while USC fans want Helton gone to get back to being an elite program. Then it was almost like Helton and Chip Kelly were trolling each other with all the timeouts they called at odd unnecessary moments. 52-35? Cute flag football game guys. In typical UCLA fashion, the offense put up some points, the defense was awful, and Kelly was wildly idiotic. A perfect summary of the season. Get ready for another season of that. Meanwhile, the Trojans will probably make it to some mediocre bowl game, while we await the fate of the underwhelming Helton. Hopefully they don’t wait too long to decide for their sake, since their recruiting rankings are sinking like the Titanic.

I was really beginning to wonder if UCLA basketball was any good, but I got my answer after they lost to Hoffstra at home on Friday. That’s this season’s version of a Cal Poly loss, which they suffered at home in the recent past. Since Mick Cronin is telling us his team is a work progress, maybe next year he should schedule the likes of Bluefield State, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Redlands, and Hampton, who all scored fewer than 50 points in a game this week. Now I see why UCLA was picked to finish 8th in the PAC-12 by the media. Unless Mick Cronin can draw something on a white board other than a clown face, I’m pretty sure things are going to get a lot worse for the Bruins when they start facing tougher competition in Maui next week.

In the NFL, we can now add Philip Rivers to the long list of things we need to apologize to Mexico for. Rivers was awful last week against the Chiefs in Mexico, and has been looking very washed up the last few weeks. For the few of you left who are only “sticking with the Chargers because of Rivers”, you might want to start thinking about what you’re going to be doing with your Sunday’s next fall. We’ve been saying for several seasons the Bolts need to find a successor to Rivers in the draft, but they’ve been stubborn about it. Now it’s about to catch up to them. That’s just one of many problems for a team that has no fan base, and is about to move into a new stadium where they will be even more of an embarrassment.

The Rams don’t play until tonight against the Ravens at the Coliseum. However, they better bring everything they’ve got. If they lose this game, you can pretty much put the nail in the coffin on their playoff hopes for this season. I sure hope Sean McVay is planning on giving the ball to Todd Gurley about 30 times in this game, and milk the clock on every possession. Otherwise, Lamar Jackson is going to dismantle them piece by piece and it’s going to get ugly at the Coliseum.

Elsewhere around Week 12, The Patriots got the benefit of another critical call in their win against the Cowboys. The refs have to be having Thanksgiving dinner at Bill Belichick’s house. The Packers play like cheese heads when they play in the state of California. Jameis Winston recorded his 100th career turnover against the Falcons. To celebrate, all fans in attendance received a coupon for a free Apple turnover from Betty Crocker. The Jaguars made the Titans look like the the ’72 Dolphins. The Raiders lost to the Jets, and their playoff hopes are disappearing faster than a Democrat’s hopes to become President. The Steelers benched Mason Rudolph in favor of Delvin Hodges and got a win, but the real laughs were in Cleveland, where Browns fans were swinging at Rudolph pinata with a football helmet. These guys are killing it!

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On the ice, I love how the Kings had won 4 of their last 5 games going into Saturday, but were in no danger of jeopardizing their lottery status. LA is still firmly in last place in the Western Conference, and only the Red Wings are worse than them in the entire league. The Kings also lost to Coyotes twice this week. The same Coyotes team that is suddenly one of the best defensive teams in hockey, and has almost as bad of an offense as the Kings. It just so happens the Coyotes are near the top of the Pacific Division. Funny how that works. You would think a Kings team that won two Stanley Cups this decade with a defensive focus would know that’s how you become competitive quickly, but apparently they decided to be like everybody else and chase speed and offense. Downright foolishness. The Kings just keep losing, while their fans would rather be watching re-runs of Temptation Island, because they’ve gotten so boring.

Finally, the Mid-Season Finale of The Walking Dead went down last night on AMC. Spoiler alert for those of you who have yet to see it, so read no further if that is the case. Where do I buy that Christmas sweater that Chris Hardwick was wearing? Chase the enemy on their own territory…..real smart Carol. Why didn’t she just take out an arrow and kill Alpha right then and there? I think the group is gonna need a Genie to get out of that cave where the herd is. Father Gabriel is now the biggest badass on the show. Can’t wait to see what Negan’s reaction is to all this I never thought Eugene would break through the friend zone with Rosita, but he finally did. Even super nerds can find some action people! I appreciate the show putting the music books in the proper Dewey decimal aisle in the post-apocalyptic library. Judith should have cut that guys head off for what he did to Ace. Great episode, but this is my face when I found out the show won’t be back until February 23rd of 2020!

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Predators Skate By Ducks in Game 5

May 20, 2017

Pontus Aberg scored the game-winning goal with just under 9 minutes left in the 3rd period, and the Predators defeated the Ducks 3-1 in game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.  Nashville has a 3-2 series lead, one game away from eliminating the Ducks and moving on to the Stanley Cup Final.

Aberg dove across the crease to swat home a rebound on a shot by Filip Forsberg, which was his first-career playoff goal.  Aberg face planted on the play, lost a tooth, and was taken off the ice for medical evaluation.  However, he was ok and the decisive goal pushed the Ducks to the brink of elimination.

Austin Watson added an empty-netter with 48 seconds left to play.  Moments earlier Jakob Silfverberg broke his stick, allowing Watson to shoot the puck from his own end, down the ice into the empty cage.

Both teams were plagued by injuries to key players.  The Predators overcame the absence of top scorer Ryan Johansen and captain Mike Fisher.  The Ducks were missing two of their top scorers in  Rickard Rakell and Patrick Eaves.  They also lost goaltender John Gibson after the 1st period, after he left with a lower body injury.

Gibson was replaced by Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 16 shots in relief.  On the other side, Pekka Rinne made 32 saves for Nashville, which has won 5 of their last 7 playoff games in Anaheim.

After a scoreless 1st period, both teams exchanged goals in the 2nd period.  Chris Wagner scored on a rebound from a shot by Brandon Montour.  It was Wagner’s 2nd career playoff goal.

Nashville got even with 40 seconds left in the 2nd.  Colin Wilson pounced on a rebound in front of Bernier, which game came on the power play.

Game 6 of the series will be Monday night in Nashville.  The Ducks will try to avoid being eliminated by the Predators for the 2nd year in a row, and eliminated from the conference finals for the 2nd time in the last 3 years.

Dodgers Beat Giants In 10

April 27, 2017

The Dodgers exploded for 4 runs in the 10th inning on Thursday afternoon at AT&T park and defeated the Giants 4-1.  LA split their four games series with San Francisco, with each team winning two games each.

Julio Urias made his 2017 debut, allowing just 1 run in 5 2/3 innings for LA, despite receiving a no-decision.  Urias allowed four hits, walked four and struck out four.

Kenley Jansen (1-0) got credit for the victory.  He pitched the 9th inning, and struck out the side.

“I felt good, I felt confident,” Urias said. “I felt like what I did last year was able to help me build confidence for this year.”

Giants starter Matt Moore allowed one run and two hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out eight.  Corey Gearrin (0-1) took the loss for San Francisco.

The Dodgers got off to a strong start on a solo homer from Corey Seager in the 1st inning.  However, the Giants would tie things up in the 6th inning when Christian Arroyo delivered an RBI single that scored Brandon Belt, which tied the game at 1-1.

After losing to the Giants in 10 innings on Wednesday night, the Dodgers turned the tables less than 24 hours later in the 10th inning Thursday afternoon.  Andrew Toles drove in pinch-runner Ross Stripling with the bases-loaded, which broke the tie.  Kike Hernandez followed with a sacrifice fly, and after an intentional walk to Corey Seager, Justin Turner delivered an RBI single.  Chris Taylor capped the rally with a based-loaded walk.

The Dodgers return home on Friday to begin a 3-game set with the Phillies.  Kenta Maeda will be on the hill for LA (1-2; 8.05 ERA), while the Phillies will go with Jerad Eickhoff (0-1; 2.55 ERA).

 

 

Angels Walk Off Against A’s in 11

April 25, 2017

Kole Calhoun delivered a walk off RBI single to score Danny Espinosa in the bottom of the 11th inning, and the Angels defeated A’s 2-1 in 11 innings on Tuesday night at the Big A.

This one was scoreless until extra innings, when both teams were finally able to get on the board against the bullpen.  Josh Phegley hit a solo shot off of Jose Alvarez in the 10th inning.  However, Mike Trout countered with a solo shot of his own in the Halo half of the 10th inning to tie the game.

Brooks Pounders (1-0) got credit for the victory after pitching a scoreless 11th inning.  Ryan Madson (0-2) took the loss for Oakland after giving up the game-winning hit to Calhoun

JC Ramirez had a strong start for the Angels, going 7 innings, giving up just 2 hits an striking out 7.  Jesse Hahn was just as good for the A’s, going 8 inning and giving up a single hit, while striking out 6.

Neither team could advance a base runner past 2nd base after a combined 60 plate appearances.

The Angels improved to 10-12 on the season.  Manager Mike Scioscia got his 1,500th career victory.

Both teams will be back at it on Wednesday night at the Big A.  The Angels will go with Matt Shoemaker (0-1; 4.98 ERA) while the A’s will counter with Sean Manea (1-1 4.43 ERA).

UCLA Run Ends Against Kentucky

March 24, 2017

Looks like Lavar Ball was wrong on this one.  UCLA was eliminated by Kentucky on Friday night in Memphis in the Sweet 16, losing by a score of 86-75.

The game belonged to De’Aaron Fox, who scored 39 points on the night.  It was the best NCAA scoring performance for Kentucky since Tayshaun Prince had 41 against Tulsa in 2002, and it was the best by a freshman in tournament history.  Kentucky wins its 14th straight game, and moves on to play UNC in the Elite 8 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, UCLA was eliminated in the Sweet 16 for the 3rd time in the last 4 years.  That’s all too common a problem for Steve Alford, whose teams have never been further in the tournament.

Lonzo Ball, who announced after the game that he played his last game as a Bruin, scored 10 points while dishing out 8 assists, but turned it over 4 times as well.

The first half was not the up and down pace you would have thought from these two squads, and Kentucky took a 36-33 lead at the break.

In the 2nd half, the closest the Bruins would get would be 50-49.  The Wildcats pushed their lead to as many 14 in the final minutes.

UCLA shot well from the field but the Bruins turned the ball over 13 times, and Kentucky outscored them 14-2 off the mistakes.

The Bruins are done for the year, but much to the surprise and disappointment of some, Steve Alford announced that he is returning to UCLA and will not be taking the job with his alma matter, Indiana.  “I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully that’ll continue,” Alford said.

UCLA has the #2 recruiting class in the country coming in next year, including Lonzo’s younger brother, LiAngelo.  Recruiting has always been Alford’s strong suit, but it’s the coaching that’s been more troubling.

Lonzo Ball & The Bruins Blitz Cincinnati

March 19, 2017

Lonzo Ball showed his brilliance again on Sunday night.  It also came just in time, as the Bruins finally pulled away from Cincinnati in the 2nd half to defeat them 79-67 in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament in Sacramento.

Ball scored 18 points, while dishing out 9 assists, and grabbing 7 boards to spark UCLA’s offense after a difficult 1st half.  TJ Leaf scored 11 points and had 7 rebounds as well, as the Bruins scored 49 points in the 2nd half.  That completely changed a game in which UCLA trailed 33-30 at halftime.

“I don’t know of a more fun basketball team to watch when we’re clicking,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said.  Their offense got going, but it was really their defense that sparked the team after halftime.  “The key to that was going to be defensive stops,” Alford said, “and we came out and got three stops in a row.”

The Bruins opened the 2nd half with a 10-3 run, which included dunks from Leaf and Thomas Welsh.    That gave them a 40-36 lead.  Shortly after that, UCLA would find their stroke from behind the arc, making three straight 3-pointers.  Two of them were from Ball, and the other from Bryce Alford.  That stretched the lead to 55-47 with 12:25 left.

The Bruins never looked back from there.  The only real question mark hanging over the team was the future of coach Steve Alford, who has reportedly been offered a 7-year $31 million contract to coach Indiana.  He once again, deflected the question when asked about it after the game.

“I’ve already addressed that matter and I’m not going to address it anymore,” Alford said. “This is about our team and what these guys are doing.”

The Bruins will now travel to Memphis to take on Kentucky on Friday in the Sweet 16.  It’s also UCLA’s 3rd trip to the Sweet 16 in the last 4 years under Alford.

UCLA defeated Kentucky back in December 97-92 in Lexington.  “It’s a very, very good basketball team,” Steve Alford said “I think they’re better now in March than they were when we played them in December and I think we’re better than what we were in December as well. Makes for a great matchup.”

 

 

Bruins Get A Scare But Beat Kent St.

March 17, 2017

The Bruins collectively held their breath on Friday night in the 1st half when Lonzo Ball fell to the floor holding his hip.  Ball was undercut after receiving a lob pass just before halftime.  However, after slowly getting up, he stayed in the game.  Ball went on to finish the game with 15 points and the Bruins took care of Kent State 97-80 to advance to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

TJ Leaf scored 23 points and Thomas Welsh added 16, as UCLA pulled away late to get the win in Sacramento.  The Bruins jumped out to a 14 point lead in the opening minutes, but Kent State would battle their way back against a UCLA team that didn’t seem very interested in playing defense again.

Despite a 16-2 run in the 1st half, Kent State was only down 47-39 at the half.  The Golden Flashes would get as close as four points in the 2nd half after a 3-pointer by Jalen Avery.  Jaylin Walker led Kent State with 23 points and Jimmy Hall Jr scored 20 for the Golden Flashes.

However, midway through the 2nd half, UCLA would put the lead back to double-digits.  “We kinda let up,”  Bruins coach Steve Alford said. “Our shot selection was worse. We didn’t defend. There is a poise to what you want to do offensively, but you’ve got to have poise defensively too. I didn’t think we did that as well in the first half as a team.”

Had Ball been seriously hurt, the Bruins hope for NCAA tournament run would have been crushed.  Fortunately, he avoided major injury.  “I’m fine,” said Ball.  “Finished the game, got up. I’m good.”

UCLA finally found its shooting stroke after last week’s struggles in the conference tournament.  The Bruins shot 62% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line.

The Bruins will need to keep that shooting stroke going against a gritty Cincinnati team on Sunday in the round of 32.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruins Can’t Find The Basket vs Arizona

March 11th, 2017

UCLA lost much of the momentum it built the last few weeks with Friday’s 86-75 loss to Arizona in Las Vegas.  The loss eliminated the Bruins from the Pac-12 tournament, and sent Wildcats to the finals of tournament on Saturday against Oregon.

Lauri Markkanen scored 29 points, Allonzo Trier added 20 to lead Arizona.  The Bruins shot just 40% from the field and 16% from 3.

Isaac Hamilton led UCLA with 20 points and TJ Leaf had 15 before fouling out.

The first half was a back and forth game, but the Wildcats had a late burst to take a 41-35 lead.

In the 2nd half, Arizona would extend the lead to 63-48, and had much of the crowd behind them.  The Bruins tried to make several runs, but couldn’t recover.

Lonzo Ball had an off night for the Bruins. He had just 8 points on 2-7 shooting.   He also injured his thumb in the 1st half, which appeared to bother him for the rest of the game.  Ball thought he would be fine though, especially after X-rays were negative.  “Nah, I’ll be all right,” he said.

It was also a tough night for both Steve and Bryce Alford.  Bryce had just 5 points on 2-12 shooting.

As for Steve, Arizona coach Sean Miller got some revenge on him from the last time the two team met.  Miller called an unnecessary timeout with one second left, and the game decided.  Miller was getting back at Alford for doing the same thing to him in Arizona last month.  

“I guess they’re upset I called a timeout at their place,” Alford said, referring to the end of UCLA’s 77-72 victory in Tucson two weeks ago when he wanted to set his defense with the Bruins ahead by five points. “I didn’t mean disrespect at all.”  

Miller felt otherwise.  “When UCLA played us at McKale, I thought they did a great job, they called a timeout with one second left just to make sure they had poise, and I felt like I wanted to make sure our guys had poise at one second left in this game.”

UCLA will find out Sunday what seed and region they end up in for the NCAA tournament next week.  However, their hopes of being a #1 seed in the West Region are gone after the loss.

Bryce Alford was disappointed but remained focused on what’s ahead.  “Our goal all year is to get to Phoenix and to compete for a national title,” he said. “So we’ve got a lot of work left to do and we have some time to figure out what we need to work on from this tournament.

Bruins Edge Trojans In Pac-12 Quarterfinal

March 9th, 2017

The Bruins came into the Pac-12 tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, winning 9 straight games.  However, they looked nothing like that team, despite barely getting by the Trojans 76-74 in their quarterfinal matchup.

UCLA shot just 41% from the floor, and lacked the consistent energy on the defensive end that they had shown in the last month.  Isaac Hamilton scored 22 points to lead the way for the Bruins, who stepped up when Lonzo Ball got into foul trouble.

Ball had 12 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, but TJ Leaf helped do some damage in the paint in his return.  Leaf had 14 points and 5 rebounds.

UCLA will now play Arizona on Friday night in the Pac-12 tournament semifinal.  “We know we’re going to have to be better [Friday] night than we were tonight,” said UCLA Coach Steve Alford.  The Bruins can expect the Wildcats to have quite a few fans in attendance based on Friday’s turnout.

The Trojans only shot 38% from the field, and Chimezie Metu was held to just 8 points, although he did have 14 rebounds.  Bennie Boatwright scored 11 points, but was only 3 for 11 from the field.

“Even in a game where we were a little bit off, you look at the numbers and it was still pretty convincing that way,” Alford said. “It was only a two-point win, but it was tied for 20 seconds and we led the rest, so I’m really proud of our guys. We’ve had very, very few nights where we haven’t shot it well or scored in the 80s-plus and this was one of those nights and yet we find a way to get a win.”

The Bruins tried to pull away with a 12-0 run in the 2nd half, but the Trojans slowly fought back.  They even got within 71-69 with 4:23 left.

In the end, USC had their chances but failed to capitalize.  Boatwright missed a three-pointer that could have tied it with 37 seconds left.  Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart later missed layups that could have made it a one-point game.

Despite the loss, USC should still be in good shape for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament next week.  “You don’t get 24 wins if you’re not a good team,” USC Coach Andy Enfield said. “And I’m going to remind you, Bennie Boatwright was out 18 games. If we were on the East Coast, that’s all we’d be talking about. But because we’re on the West Coast, no one even mentions that.”

 

 

 

Bruins Take Care of Cougars

March 5th, 2017

UCLA finished up their Pac 12 play on Saturday night with a 77-68 win over Washington State at Pauley Pavilion.  The Bruins sleep walked their way through most of this one but got the job done.

Aaron Holiday led the way for the Bruins with 16 points, and Isaac Hamilton scored 14, as the Bruins made it 9 wins in a row.  UCLA went on a 14-0 run over the final 10 minutes to secure the win.

The Bruins played without Freshman TJ Leaf, who sat out with an injured ankle.   However, they got another solid performance from their other star freshman.  Lonzo Ball scored 12 points to go along with 14 assists.  That broke Gary Payton’s freshman assist record in the Pac 12.

Charles Callison led the Cougars with 25 points.  Josh Hawkinson had 16 to go along with 14 rebounds.  That gave him the school’s all-time rebounding record.

The Cougars were up 47-44, and 51-50  before the Bruins went on their 14-0 run.

It was an emotional night for the Seniors, who were playing their final game at Pauley Pavilion.  Both Coach Steve and his son Bryce Alford were particularly emotional.

The Bruins also honored the 1966-1967 team that went 30-0 at halftime.  Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was in attendance.

UCLA enters the Pac 12 Tournament as the #3 seed.  They’ll play in the quarterfinals on Thursday in Vegas.  There’s a good chance the Bruins will have to go through USC, Oregon, and Arizona to win the conference tournament, but doing so would likely make them a #1 seed in the West for the NCAA tournament.