Better Hope he makes it to 100

Now this is a topic I had always thought about when I was a student at the wonderful campus of UCLA – why isn’t the football field on-site, and why is Pauley Pavilion so out-dated (and not named after John Wooden). They sort of fixed the latter issue by naming the court “Nell and John Wooden,” but the name of the building still remained Pauley Pavilion. Well, I just received a press release from the Bruins athletics department, and I’m proud to announce that

photo courtesy csus

UCLA has moved the Pauley Pavilion renovation process forward and selected an architectural firm to prepare preliminary renovation and expansion designs for the historic structure, a campus landmark for more than 40 years and the home court of 38 NCAA championship teams. The goal is to dedicate the restored Pauley Pavilion on October 14, 2010, to honor Coach John Wooden on his 100th birthday.

And Wooden thought there was pressure in defending a national championship and lengthy unbeaten streaks? They better get a move on things. And it looks like the campus is moving in the direction of the 21st century

Among the many enhancements being considered are a new retractable seating system to bring spectators closer to the court, and new concession areas, restrooms and modern arena technology to enhance fan experience; new and expanded locker rooms, medical treatment and media rooms and dedicated practice facilities; a main lobby that would serve as a central entrance and celebrate UCLA’s illustrious athletic tradition, and redevelopment of the area between Spaulding Field and the arena.

I guess that’s what you get when your new (and brilliant) coach, Ben Howland, revives the program to a national powerhouse level.

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The Taste of Victory!

How you ever had your puppy kicked? Ever been fired from a job? Been denied sex for the better part of your adolescence? If you answered yes to one (or all) of the aforementioned questions, then you might understand the pain the Iona Gaels endured this year.

But no longer! The force was strong with Iona last night; the Gaels became the last team in Division I to get in the win column after beating Rider 69-57 in front of a startled 2,111 at the Hynes Center making them a shameless 1-22 on the year. Some of the post-game comments from Coach Jeff Ruland as reported in the NY Post were magnificent:

After what I witnessed over the past couple of weeks, I know it’s not over until the buzzer sounds, I’ll never take anything remotely for granted ever again.

It feels like King Kong has been lifted off my shoulders.

I’m happy it’s over, but we celebrate championships like that. We don’t celebrate regular-season wins.

And from the New York Daily News:

This [losing streak] was something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy

Congrats gentlemen, Anthony Young would be proud.

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Show me Your Beaver!

In case you missed it, we had a scale game at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday afternoon. The UCLA Bruins recorded their 17th straight home win crushing Oregon State 82-35. A siren went off for me when the Bruins were ahead at the half by a cool 30, 48-18, thanks to a 70% shooting performance. The special night was confirmed when James Keefe made a permanent indent on the lineup at the 13:13 mark in the 2nd half. The game was such a blowout that all of the 15 players on the UCLA roster saw action.

The best comments came from Oregon State coach Jay John after the game,

We were exposed in every possible way. We all go through this outcome every once in a while. It is a risk you take when you come into Pauley. In early December, we watched a very good University of Michigan team come in here and not look very good. UCLA can do that to anybody they play. Tonight it was us.

More details on the game coming straight from virtuoso sports information director Ryan Finney, the 35 points allowed by the Bruins tied the fewest points UCLA ever allowed in Pauley Pavilion (in 1966 they beat Oregon St. 79-35).

The last time I saw a beating this bad someone stuck a banana down my pants and let the monkey loose. Can you say the Bruins are ready for the tournament?

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Siren Game: Kevin Durant

We live in a sports world of hype and hoopla.  It’s a world where magazine covers, shoe deals, and sponsors reign supreme.  Six foot six year olds are scouted, thirteen year olds with thirty foot jumpers are tracked, and rubes with ridiculous range are recruited.  In this world of scouting preps - dudes are dubbed saviors and heroes before they’ve even set foot on a collegiate floor. 

Again, consider this sports world we live in and then ask yourself how do we distinguish one player from another.  Who’s to know which of these sparkplugs will turn out to be “the man?”  Who’s to tell which players will live up to the hype? 

While it’s a process difficult to discern, there are certain individual performances by a player that stand out like a siren.  It’s games when Vince Young runs for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns, throws for 267 yards, and single-handedly leads Texas to a national title victory over a USC team widely considered to be one of the greatest ever, that I’m talking about.  It’s games when LeBron James leads his St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high school team to a 78-52 win over national power Westchester High in Los Angeles by equaling the opposing team’s point total with a career high 52 that alert us. 

Those are the types of games, the Siren Games that I am talking about – when a siren goes off to alert you that this guy is the real deal thus affirming the existence of the hype.   

photo courtesy Scout.com

In case you missed it, Kevin Durant had a Siren Game last night.  Durant scored 37 points and grabbed 23 rebounds for Texas – against a real school, Texas Tech – becoming the first Longhorn and second Big 12 player to join the 30-20 club.  In case you missed it, Durant has scored 30 or more in 5 of his last 8 games.  In case you missed it, he has 13 double-doubles, tying him for most ever in the Big 12 (with 9 regular season games to go).  Both coaches were impressed with Durant following the game:

Texas Tech coach Bob Knight said, “what more does he have to do.”

Texas coach Rick Barnes said, “He’s a once in a lifetime guy. He’s special, and we’re lucky that we have him.”

The best part about the whole night was Kevin Durant’s comments after the game:

“I really wasn’t worried about my stats or my rebounds or points. I just wanted to win.”

And, from the Austin-Statesman,

“I could have played a little better, I missed some easy shots. I missed some free throws (three).”

And that my friends is why he will be a successful player.   

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Penalty: Unnecessary Floor Storming

Above is a video delineating an epidemic that has spread throughout college basketball venues across the country.  Yes, in case you were wondering, that is the site of the United Spirit Arena where a Bobby Knight coached Texas Tech team beat then 6th ranked Texas A&M.  Imagine that, the student body at a 20-win team coached by Bobby Knight  storms the floor following a win over a school whose football team routinely posts more wins than their basketball team.  Which brings me to last night.         

Wednesday night in Bloomington, the unranked Indiana Hoosiers upset the 2nd ranked Wisconsin Badgers 71-66.  Wisconsin came into the game with just 1 loss on the year; they were 21-1 overall and 7-0 in Big 10 play.  Despite being unranked - and not up to Indiana standards - the Hoosiers were a forgiving 15-5 overall and 5-2 in Big 10 play.  

Granted Wisconsin held the country’s longest winning streak entering the game at 17 wins in a row – but honestly Bloomington, what are your students doing swarming the court following a win over Wisconsin? 

Take a step back and think about this for a minute.  Indiana is a traditional basketball power with a grand total of 5 national titles, 3rd most of any school in the country.  When you think Indiana – you think Bob Knight, Isiah Thomas, Hoosiers – you think basketball super-power.  But Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin, who are they?  They’ve won what, a title before color TV?

I’ve decided that there are two issues at play here.  First, the student bodies clearly don’t have a concept of what a big win truly is.  Secondly, the act of rushing the floor has become far too commonplace.  For that reason, I have come up with the first set of Rules to Floor Storming.        

From now on, student bodies may only storm the court following a win under 1 (or more) of the following conditions:

  1. Your school just beat the #1 team in the country [in either or both poll(s)]
  2. Your school has a losing record and you beat your top-20 ranked rival
  3. The 10/10 rule – your team hasn’t been to the tournament in at least 10 years and you beat a top 10 school 

May we bring an end to this madness.  Thank you.

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SI has Trojan write UCLA Campus Review?

Of course I was pretty geeked like any other Bruin to see my school represented with some quality real estate on the front page of SI.com – and even more ecstatic to have one of the campus’ finer specimen doing the representing no less. Unfortunately, all that excitement came to a crashing halt as soon as I saw the by line. SI on Campus had a Trojan write the Road Trip review of the UCLA campus???

Why don’t we just have Woody Hayes deliver Tom Brady’s introduction to the Michigan Athletics Hall of Fame, or better yet, let George Steinbrenner throw out the first pitch on Opening Day in Fenway. No offense guys, because you do a great job over there, but WTF were you thinking have a USC Trojan write the campus review for UCLA?
At least the writer does get something right:

“Even the staunchest Trojan will begrudgingly tell you that the best college neighborhood in Los Angeles is in Westwood, not in South Central, as they hop into their cars and drive into enemy territory by the droves on the weekends.”

OK, so he does have that part correct, and he does OK in his review, but if you really want the inside scoop to Bruin life, shouldn’t you get it from someone who actually went there? I think so, so here ya go:

Best place to go after 2am: If you can handle the steep prices, Jerry’s Famous Deli is the place to be for the star-gazing and late-night studying. Come on, my roomies and I ran into Kordell Stewart who was in town for a taping of BDSSP, nuff said.

Best spot for the munchies: The place we affectionately call Buck 50s (aka Roll In) because not long ago it was a buck fifty for a hoagie. Now, it’s still a kick-ass deal, a sweet ass sub, some killer fries, and a drink for under 5 bucks. In ‘N Out Burger right next door also rules since it’s a West Coast treat. Diddy Riese is the spot for dessert.

Best place to get some culture: Hollywood Blvd by the Kodak Theater, Graumans Chinese Theater, Ripley’s, and the Walk of Fame. Doesn’t get more LA than that.

One thing you need to know: The beach is only 15 minutes away, so just head west on Sunset Blvd til you run into the Pacific Ocean. Great to hang out, skip class, or get some studying done in a serene environment.

Best spot for music: Whiskey-A-Go-Go on Sunset Blvd where many legendary bands got their local start, and where many aspiring college bands perform. If you prefer diggin through the crates, it doesn’t get better than Amoeba in Hollywood.

Best way to get around: Must have a car! Find the person on your dorm floor with one and become their best friend or get a job working for parking enforcement so you can get a parking pass. Little known secret: calling cabs after late nights at the bar is great – you can split it with 4 or 5 friends and have it take you from one side of campus to the other – not bad for a buck.

Best place to get tickets: Central Ticket Office (CTO) just behind Pauley Pavilion on campus. Little known secret: They also have discounted tickets to local movie theaters and amusement parks such as Disneyland.

Best place to soak up Bruin tradition: Morgan Center & Pauley Pavilion. Pauley has the banners hangin in the rafters, an intimidating presence.

Best spot for pregame: Maloney’s (now O’Hara’s) for basketball, fraternity beer buses for football. Many people forget Bruins don’t do a lot of tailgaiting because the Rose Bowl’s in Pasadena, a good hour away with game-day traffic. Best way to go pregame is to get sloshed on a beerbus bellowing Greek chants.

Best spot to get your hoop on: Wooden Center is pretty bad-ass, lots of studs and alums in the NBA swing by. Don’t forget about the dorm games going off behind the Sunset Village units – they may be played on converted tennis courts, but the competition is staunch. If you were lucky, you could’ve seen past youngsters like Jordan Farmar practicing his free throws til all hours on these courts.

Best rite of passage: Inverted fountain/Perverted shmountain. Without question the Undie Run which takes place the Wednesday of finals week every quarter. It’s the one day the majority of UCLA students actually let-go of all the rigors and pressures of academia, and put a full-on Isla Vista type show in Westwood. The spectacle is glorious; hundreds of 1500 and 4.0 geniuses dressed in their skivvies masquerading through campus. Every student has to participate in at-least one Undie Run before graduation.

Hope you enjoyed the Road Trip to UCLA courtesy of an actual Bruin!

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Idiots Voting in AP Poll, No Surprise

Not that I expect the writers in the various AP polls to know exactly what they’re doing, but I do expect a Wee-Man portion of knowledge and intellect to be on display.  That’s why it’s with much shock and chagrin that I write despite being #1 in both the AP and coaches’ poll in college hoops, UCLA was not voted #1 by a certain member of the press.

John Kaltefleiter of the Macon Telegraph in Georgia voted North Carolina first and UCLA second.  I’m wondering why more members of the press haven’t seen it his way.  I mean come on, why shouldn’t an undefeated team from a major conference, with an average margin of victory larger than Rosie O’Donnell’s waist line be ranked 1st?  I guess beating 4 top 20 teams and winning the Maui Invitational isn’t good enough.  Ahah!  I know, maybe UCLA needs to lose to Gonzaga first and then get some respect!  Gimme a break.  Well, at least this clown did something right – he made it into this entry.