UCLA BRUINS BASKETBALL: 2017-18 Season Wrap-Up


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DAYTON, OH – MARCH 13: Thomas Welsh #40 of the UCLA Bruins looks on against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the first half of the First Four game in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 13, 2018 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Photo courtesy of ocregister.com





Final Record: 21-12, 11-7 and tied for third place in the Pac-12 Conference


  • Beat Kentucky, 83-75, in New Orleans on December 23rd
  • Beat Arizona, 82-74, in Tucson on February 8th
  • Swept both games from USC, 82-79 at Pauley Pavilion on February 3rd and 83-72 on March 3rd at Galen Center


  • SHOPLIFTING INCIDENT IN CHINA: LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley being caught stealing sunglasses before UCLA’s opening game vs Georgia Tech, being suspended for the season, depleting the Bruins of much-needed depth, and completely embarrassing the country and Bruin Nation
  • Blowing late leads and losing in several games, particularly to Michigan and Stanford (in double overtime)
  • Losing twice to a mediocre middle-of-the-conference-pack Colorado team
  • Looking absolutely listless, sloppy, and pathetic in their season-ending loss to St. Bonaventure, 65-58, in the NCAA “First Four” game in Dayton, OH on March 13th

Top Players:

Aaron Holiday (My Choice For Team MVP): 20.3 ppg, 5.7 apg,

Kris Wilkes: 13.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Thomas Welch: 12.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg

Points Leader: Holiday, 671

Rebounds Leader: Welch, 358 (87 offensive)

Assists Leader: Holiday, 192


Final Analysis and Thoughts:

On one hand, just the fact that this year’s version of the UCLA men’s basketball team had their named called on Selection Sunday at all, after what had happened in China this past November when those three freshmen completely disgraced Bruin Nation, was a pleasant thing, illustrating the heart and resilience, led by coach Steve Alford, that the Bruins displayed this season.

On the other hand, (and it’s a BIG “on the other hand”) – speaking of Alford…

I’m in agreement with the sentiments of roughly 99% of Bruin Nation who strongly advocates firing Alford and paying him the $5.2 million it would cost to buy him out.

I am convinced that the UCLA basketball program will never win a 12th national championship, or get to another Final Four, under Alford because his teams are too sloppy too much of the time and he is completely ineffective in coaching defense in particular; it showed in the recent loss to St. Bonaventure.

I won’t speculate who could take Alford’s place, but it’s become crystal clear to me that once again a change is needed.

The airplane that will fly over Westwood and the UCLA campus today with a banner saying “Final Fours not First Fours #FireAlford” will illustrate those sentiments.

However, I’ve got some unpleasant news to all the “Fire Alford” folks out there…

He’s not going anywhere, at least not this year.



MY CHOICE FOR THE BRUINS’ TOP HIGHLIGHT OF 2017-18: UCLA’s 83-72 win over USC at Galen Center on March 3rd, essentially knocking the Trojans out of the NCAA Tournament. Video courtesy of YouTube.


After paying former Bruin football coach Jim Mora $12 million in letting him go in November, I REALLY don’t see the folks at Morgan Center doing another multi-million dollar buyout for the coach of the other revenue sport so soon after that.

Which means despite another top-five recruiting class, including Shareef O’Neal – Shaq’s son –  coming in next year, UCLA hoops’ fortunes will likely be similar to this year’s.

A big silver lining to this is that Alford will be on the hottest of hot seats, as well he should be after his team played worse than Charlie Brown pitches in the loss to St. Bonaventure and in the overtime period vs Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament.

And if things go as I think they may well go, I fully expect Alford to be given his pink slip at this time next year.

I had a thought about this men’s basketball team of my alma mater’s during their struggles this season, which I will share:

I don’t think that the UCLA Men’s Basketball program was ever REALLY and TRULY an elite program.

I feel that UCLA Men’s Basketball is a VERY GOOD program that had the most elite run in the history of sports with their ten national championships in twelve years and seven titles in a row from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.

In my opinion, there’s a difference between being an elite program and a very good program that had an elite run, as unlike UCLA teams like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Duke are in contention for national crowns EVERY year – or at least a lot more often than the Bruins.

And for those pulling the “tough academic admissions standards” card, I’ve got one word to say about that:


That’s a school ranked higher than UCLA in every academic, “nation’s top colleges” poll, with tougher admissions standards, and nobody needs any reminding whatsoever about what those Blue Devils have done under coach Mike Krzyzewski over nearly forty years.

Notice I didn’t mention Indiana as like UCLA, I don’t see them as an elite program anymore because of their lack of real success after Bob Knight was fired.

My evidence of this?

As everyone in Bruin Nation knows or should know – shame on any Bruin who doesn’t – the number of national titles UCLA has won in men’s basketball outside of the years 1964-1975?

ONE. In 1995, under Jim Harrick, the only man besides the great John Wooden who was ever able to hoist a banner to the Pauley Pavilion rafters.

I’m sorry, but that’s not my definition of a truly elite program.

In order for the Bruins to return to that status, I agree with the “Fire Alford” faction that real change must be needed.

Until that change is made, though as a Bruin alum I hope it doesn’t happen, next season I see things unfolding on the hard court the way they unfolded with this year’s team.

In fact, I think that someone should make and sell blue caps with gold lettering saying,

“Make UCLA Basketball Great Again”

And for that matter, a cap that says “Make UCLA Football Great Again” isn’t a bad idea, either.

I would certainly buy one.


DAYTON, OH – MARCH 13: Aaron Holiday #3 of the UCLA Bruins attempts a shot defended by Matt Mobley #2 of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the first half of the First Four game in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 13, 2018 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Photo courtesy of ocregister.com




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The official photo of a UCLA basketball team that has gone through so much this season. Photo courtesy of mostlyuclahoops.blogspot.com





Record: 21-11, 11-7 and tied for 3rd in the Pac-12 Conference

  • Swept both games from USC in this year’s season series, 82-79 on February 3rd and 83-72 on March 3rd
  • Beat Kentucky in New Orleans, 83-75, on December 23rd
  • Beat Arizona in Tucson, 82-74, on February 8th
  • Lost To Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals, 78-67, in overtime on March 10th

NCAA Tournament Seed: 11th in East Regional

First Game: Tonight vs St. Bonaventure in Dayton, OH, 6:10 p.m. TV: Tru-TV

Key Players:

Aaron Holiday, PG – 20.3 ppg, 5.1 apg

Thomas Welch, C – 13.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg

Kris Wilkes, G – 13.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg

Thoughts & Prediction:

Anytime you can get your team into the NCAA Tournament after going through much turmoil; namely those three players getting busted for shoplifting in China before the first game in November,

You must get credited for the job you did.

Which is why I give Steve Alford much respect for keeping his Bruins together and focused enough to win 21 games, because after LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill deprived him of the depth that was sorely needed due to their extreme stupidity, things could have been a lot worse in Westwood.

As such, even though they are in a “First Four” play-in game, it’s far better than not getting into the tournament at all.

For all those that dispute that, just ask USC.

As such, I see Alford’s band of Bruins as having a pretty good chance at beating St. Bonaventure tonight and meeting sixth-seeded Florida in Dallas on Thursday, especially if Welch and Holiday, who has put the team on his back of late, have good games.

But that’s as far as I think they’ll get.

PREDICTION: Two and through.


The three leaders of this year’s UCLA women’s basketball team, from left to right: Monique Billings, Kelli Hayes and Jordin Canada. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com



Record: 24-7, 14-4 and tied for 3rd in the Pac-12 Conference

  • BIGGEST WIN: vs 2nd-ranked Baylor, 82-68, on November 18th at Pauley Pavilion – it is Baylor’s only loss this season!
  • Gave top-ranked, #1 overall seed, and all-around super girls Connecticut a battle before losing to them, 78-60, on November 21st
  • Swept USC in this year’s season series, 59-46 on February 2nd and 84-70 on February 5th
  • Lost three games to Oregon, including in the Pac-12 Tournament Semifinals, 65-62, on March 3rd

National Rank: 9th

NCAA Tournament Seed: 3rd in the Kansas City Regional

First Game: Saturday, March 17th vs American in Pauley Pavilion, 12:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2

Key Players:

Jordin Canada, PG – 16.8 ppg, 6.1 apg

Monique Billings, F – 15.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg

Kennedy Burke, G – 10.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Thoughts & Prediction:

The one thing keeping me from proclaiming this team as a great one with a more-than-excellent shot at making the Final Four?

One word: OREGON.

Those Ducks exposed UCLA’s shortcomings, as any team that beats another team three times in one season would.

What really hurt was the fact that those Bruins blew a good-sized lead in the last few minutes of the Pac-12 Tournament semis against that Oregon team and lost in a bitterly disappointing fashion.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t think this is a very good team that coach Cori Close put together, because it is; I saw that firsthand against Baylor.

And it doesn’t mean that I don’t think they have a good shot at going far in this Big Dance, because they do.

If the UCLA team that beat Baylor and swept ‘SC shows up, they’ll have a good shot at getting past (probably) Texas in the Sweet Sixteen and (probably) Mississippi State in the Elite Eight.

If the UCLA team that lost to Oregon three times shows up, however, I don’t known if they’ll get past the second round.

Which is why I’m making this…

PREDICTION: Sweet 16, with a chance at the Elite 8.



Long Beach State takes on Cal State Fullerton in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament at Honda Center in Anaheim on Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register/SCNG)  Photo courtesy of ocregister.com



Record: 20-11, 10-6 and 4th place in the Big West Conference (regular season)

  • BIG WEST TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS – beat regular season champion UC Davis in the semis and UC Irvine, 71-55, in the finals on March 10th

NCAA Tournament Seed: 15th in the East Regional

First Game: Friday, March 16th vs 2nd-seeded Purdue in Detroit, MI, 9:30 a.m. TV: Tru TV

Key Players:

Kyle Allman, Jr., G – 19.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg

Khalil Ahmad, G – 15.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg

Jackson Rowe, F – 12.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Thoughts & Prediction:

I give extreme props to any team who, after finishing around the middle of the pack in their conference during the regular campaign, beats the teams above them in their conference tournament to earn their spot in the Big Dance.

Big pats on the back go out to coach Dedrique Taylor and his Titans for achieving that at Honda Center in Anaheim this past weekend.

Not bad for a basketball team from a school that is far more known for a baseball program that has won the College World Series four times.

Unfortunately for those Titans, like pretty much every other 15 and 16 seed, I don’t see them giving the bigger Boilermakers from Purdue that much of a fight on Friday.

PREDICTION: One and Done.



The Cal State Northridge team including Tessa Boagni, center, cheer their team as they take the lead late in the second period over UC Santa Barbara in a Big West Tournament quarterfinal game in Fullerton on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. (Photo by Paul Rodriguez, Contributing Photographer)  Photo courtesy of dailynews.com



Record: 19-15, 8-8 and 5th place in the Big West Conference (regular season)

  • BIG WEST TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS – Beat regular season champion UC Davis, 63-55, in the finals on March 10th.
  • Overcame an 0-5 start

NCAA Tournament Seed: 16th in the Spokane Regional

First Game: Friday, March 16th vs 1st-seeded and 5th-ranked Notre Dame in Spokane, WA. TV: ESPN2

Key Players:

Channon Fluker, C – 18.8 ppg, 12.1 rpg

Tessa Boagni, F – 13.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg

Serafina Maulupe, G – 11.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg

Thoughts & Prediction:

I give more respect and props to this team from the San Fernando Valley – from a place where I went to graduate school, incidentally – than I give to Cal State Fullerton’s men’s squad, for a simple reason:

They figuratively rose from the dead, overcoming a 0-5 start to not only win 19 games, but to beat two teams above them, including regular season champ UC Davis, for their ticket to the NCAA tourney.

Those Matadors are a perfect example of the term, “A Team With Nothing To Lose”

Which is exactly what they will be against Notre Dame.

However, in an excellent illustration of reality setting in, CSUN has about as much of a chance of beating the elite Fighting Irish as a snowball’s chance of not melting in that place opposite of Heaven.

That shouldn’t take away from the great job that coach Jason Flowers and his young red and black-clad ladies did this year.

PREDICTION: One and Done


UCLA guard Aaron Holiday (#3), the ultimate key player if the Bruins are going to go anywhere in this year’s Big Dance. Photo courtesy of dailybruin.com



CROSSTOWN RIVALRY BASEBALL 2018: USC Outlasts UCLA In A Close One At Dodger Stadium


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USC’s Blake Sabol scoring the tying run in the 7th inning of the Trojans’ 3-2 win over UCLA at Dodger Stadium. Photo courtesy of culvercityobserver.com



Except for the fact that it didn’t go extra innings, this year’s annual Crosstown Rivalry baseball clash at Dodger Stadium was a case of deja-vu.

Complete with USC left fielder Lars Nootbaar repeating last year’s heroics against the Bruins as his home run in the eighth inning of UCLA’s Garrett Barker before 9,346 won the concluding game of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic for the Trojans, 3-2, setting off a celebration among those clad in cardinal and gold and a rousing rendition of “Conquest” from the USC band.

Which for the second straight year earned Nootbaar, who went two-for-four with that homer into the right field bullpen, my personal “Player of the Game” award.

Particularly after Bruin second baseman Chase Strumpf failed Bruin Nation when he committed a mortal sin with two outs, a 3-2 count and the tying run ninety feet away in the ninth inning:

He looked at a called third strike from ‘SC’s Connor Lunn, rather than do what hitters always need to do in that situation…


Trojans signing autographs after their win over their crosstown rivals. Photo courtesy of twitter.com



Protect the plate; foul off any close pitch until one comes that can be squared up, and most of all,

Never, ever go down looking – especially if it’s two outs in the last inning!

I saw some posts from Bruin fans on Twitter bitterly complaining about that third strike call, saying that the pitch was outside, but you know what?

That’s irregardless. Strumpf should have still protected that plate.

Actually, after what happened in the first inning, the game was irrelevant in a sense due to UCLA’s starting pitcher, Jon Olsen, getting smashed in the face by a wicked line drive by Nootbaar, Olsen laying on the ground for several minutes before (THANKFULLY!) being able to walk off the field under his own power.

I was quite surprised that an ambulance wasn’t called.



Full highlights of USC’s 3-2 win over UCLA at Dodger Stadium yesterday, courtesy of YouTube.


Zach Pettway was very good in taking Olsen’s place, striking out seven Trojans, including five in a row at one point, before designated hitter Blake Sabol’s one-out triple and subsequent scoring of the tying run in the seventh inning after first baseman Dillon Paulsen’s drive into the right field pavilion got USC on the board in the fourth.

The Bruins played a decent brand of small ball at the plate, shortstop Ryan Kriedler scoring the game’s first run without the benefit of a hit in the third inning as he crossed the plate off a sacrifice fly by UCLA right fielder Jeremy Ydens.

UCLA’s other run came courtesy of a bases loaded walk, Kreidler scoring again in the fifth with Michael Toglia taking the ball four off the Trojans’ Ryan Hurt.

The biggest impression that I got from this game – yes, I was there, as I have been every year, doing my double duties playing in the UCLA Alumni Band and keeping score of the contest – was this…

USC batters struck out nine times – and were still able to get a triple, two home runs, and the win.

Their pitchers walked eight Bruins, meaning that they were all over the place – and all my alma mater could muster from that was two runs.


Zach Pettway dealing during the Bruins’ clash against the Trojans at Dodger Stadium. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com


My conclusion from that:

UCLA beat themselves as much as the Trojans beat them.

One significant illustration of this came in the fifth inning, when ‘SC right fielder Jamal O’Guinn bobbled a single by center fielder Daniel Amaral, Kreidler should have sent home right then rather than (eventually) waiting for Toglia to get a base on balls.

That showed a lack of aggressiveness on the Bruins’ part, and, along with them getting just three measly singles, in my view was a factor in the game.

In a consolation for UCLA – besides the news that the Bruins’ brothers on the basketball team got into the NCAA Tournament while the Trojans’ hoops brothers were shockingly snubbed, which everyone found out on their I-phones at roughly the third inning – there’s a lot of season left, and a chance at revenge when the Trojans come to Jackie Robinson Stadium for a three-game series which – unlike this match will count in the Pac-12 standings –  commences April 20-22.

Which will give the Bruins time to sort things out.

I and everyone else who’s a SoCal college baseball fan will know a lot more about this UCLA team, and USC as well, by then.


Nootbaar (#11) whooping it up with his Trojan teammates after hitting his difference-making homer. Photo courtesy of sportspyder.com






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LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 10: The USC Trojans leave the floor after losing to the Arizona Wildcats 75-61 in the championship game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 10, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images) Photo courtesy of usapostclick.com


Like everyone else, when I heard that USC’s basketball team, a team that won 23 games this season, finished a solid second in the Pac-12 Conference, made the conference tournament finals AND had a very good RPI of 34…

Were not chosen as one of the 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament – in other words, were completely snubbed, being forced to accept a berth in the National Invitational Tournament, better known as the NIT; the ultimate consolation event in sports,

I was shocked!

And this coming from an alumnus of the Trojans’ crosstown rival – who DID make the Big Dance!

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided that in my opinion there was one overwhelming factor in this pronounced snub.

One main reason why Andy Enfield’s cardinal-and-gold squad wasn’t invited to March Madness:

Saturday, March 3, 2018.

Galen Center.

UCLA Bruins 83 – USC Trojans 72

That was a game where pretty much everybody, me included, expected ‘SC to win because it was a home game vs a crosstown rival who they had lost to in a close fashion a few weeks before.



IN MY OPINION: The game that kept USC out of the NCAA Tournament – the Trojans’ 83-72 loss to UCLA on March 3rd. Video courtesy of YouTube.



Which meant they were looking for revenge in an extreme way, in front of a Trojan Family which I’m sure was quite hostile to their Westwood counterparts.

When UCLA won that rivalry clash, coming from behind to sweep that season series from the Trojans, I firmly believe that the NCAA selection committee paid particular attention to that and the fact that USC didn’t really have any signature wins, beating only two teams that are in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

When it comes down to it, I am absolutely convinced that if USC had beaten the Bruins that Saturday night at the Galen Center, those Trojans would be getting ready for the Big Dance now and UCLA would be in the NIT.

In other words, that crosstown rivalry match-up was, for all intents and purposes, a play-in game.

There’s been some speculation that this snub, at least in part, came from the FBI investigation stemming (in ‘SC’s case) from now-former assistant coach Tony Bland’s involvement in bribery and Chimeze Metu getting accused of allegedly taking $2,000.

But according to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times, Bruce Rasmussen, the chairman of the NCAA selection committee, stated that that controversy “…had absolutely nothing to do with (USC not getting into the tournament).”

As such, I’m right with the Trojan Family in the opinion that USC got absolutely screwed.

And I feel sympathy for them.

Metu, Jordan McLaughlin, Elijah Stewart, Jonah Matthews, and the rest of those Trojans deserved better for the good season they had on the hard court.

As for UCLA and the other men’s and women’s teams from SoCal that did get invited to the Big Dance, a guide/preview/predictions article pertaining to that will appear on this site tomorrow, so…

Watch for it!


LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 10: USC guard Jonah Mathews (2) talks with USC forward Nick Rakocevic (31) and USC guard Elijah Stewart (30) during the championship game of the mens Pac-12 Tournament between the USC Trojans and the Arizona Wildcats on March 10, 2018, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Photo courtesy of aol.com


SOCAL COLLEGE BASEBALL 2018: A Season Overview


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A scene from last season’s UCLA-USC game at Dodger Stadium, the Trojans winning 4-3 in extra innings. Photo courtesy of dailybruin.com




Here are the college baseball programs in the greater Los Angeles area that are off to good starts so far this year…


Current Record: 10-2

National Rank: 11th

Coach: John Savage

Last Game: Beat LMU, 12-1, on March 6th

Next Game: vs Vanderbilt at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday, march 9th

Top Hitters:

Michael Toglia, 1B – .400 average, 4 HR, 12 RBI

Chase Stumpf, 2B – .295 average, 2 HR, 16 RBI

Jake Hirabayashi, 3B – .325 average, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Top Pitchers:

Zach Pettway: 3-0, 0.95 ERA, 15 strikeouts

Ryan Garcia: 2-0, 1.45 ERA, 22 strikeouts

Jon Olsen: 2-0, 2.08 ERA, 20 strikeouts



Current Record: 8-3

Coach: Dan Hubbs

Last Game: Lost to Arkansas, 7-6, on March 4th

Next Game: vs TCU at Dedeaux Field on Friday, March 9th

Top Hitters:

Chase Bushor, SS – .433 average, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Dillon Paulson, 1B – .303 average, 1 HR, 9 RBI

Matthew Acosta, CF – .273 average, 1 HR, 10 RBI

Top Pitchers:

Kyle Hurt: 1-0, 3.95 ERA, 17 strikeouts

Quentin Longmire: 2-0, 4.96 ERA, 14 strikeouts

Connor Lunn: 3.00 ERA, 5 saves


A good shot of UC Irvine’s Anteaters celebrating some good fortune. Photo courtesy of articles.dailypilot.com



Current Record: 7-4

Coach: Mike Gillespie

Last Game: Beat TCU, 15-2, on March 4th

Next Game: at Portland on Friday, March 9th

Top Hitters:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, 1B – .378 average, 0 HR, 10 RBI

Nick Anderson, DH – .333 average, 0 HR, 8 RBI

Cole Kreuter, 2B – .243 average, 2 HR, 8 RBI

Top Pitchers:

Andre Pallante: 2-0, 0.47 ERA, 27 strikeouts

Louis Raymond: 1-1, 2.84 ERA, 12 strikeouts

Taylor Rishi: 1-0, 0.90 ERA, 12 strikeouts,



Sophomore Albee Weiss releases some emotions after he finished with his team photograph during Media Day in Matadors Field. (Raul Martinez / The Sundial) Photo courtesy of dailysundial.com



Current Record: 8-5

Coach: Greg Moore

Last Game: Lost to UNLV, 7-5, on March 4th

Next Game: at Pepperdine on Friday, March 9th

Top Hitters:

Trevor Casanova, C – .434 average, 3 HR, 13 RBI

Brandon Bohning, 2B – .380 average, 2 HR, 10 RBI

Nolan Bumstead, 3B – .378 average, 3 HR, 14 RBI

Top Pitchers:

Wesley Moore: 1-1, 3.21 ERA, 16 strikeouts

Matt Acosta: 2-2, 3.86 ERA, 10 strikeouts

Isaiah Nunez: 2.45 ERA, 12 strikeouts, 2 saves


A Few Thoughts:

After about three and a half weeks, UCLA has clearly gotten off to the best start as their pitching is clearly the best of all the SoCal teams – so far.

Plus the Bruins’ hitting has improved from last season, but those numbers are nothing compared to the hitting that CSUN’s Matadors have done.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that some of the big name programs in the Southland have gotten off to pretty bad starts.

Pepperdine, which has had a long history of baseball success, is a mere 5-8.

However, what has jumped out at me in these early days of the college baseball season is the fact that two of the standout programs in these parts, the two teams that fought like rabid dogs in 2017 not only in the Big West Conference, but in the NCAA Super Regionals – the three-game series that determines who gets a berth to the College World Series in Omaha, NE,

And are longtime bitter rivals ala UCLA-USC on top of all of that,

Are a combined 8-16 to begin 2018, defending Big West champ Long Beach State’s Dirtbags being 5-8.

While the team that beat the Dirtbags in the Super Regionals before standing room only crowds at Long Beach’s Blair Field last June, Cal State Fullerton’s Titans – who were rewarded with a ticket to the College World Series for their efforts,

Have won only three of their first eleven games in this early going.

At first glance, one would think “What’s wrong with the Titans and Dirtbags?!”

But being the longtime baseball guy/fan that I am, I know that you usually can’t judge a team based on its first few games; you need to see where they are roughly halfway into the campaign, when they are well into their conference slate.

The reason? Baseball’s a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s a good chance that I may mention some completely different teams in these pages when the postseason comes along in late May.

In other words, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, and Pepperdine along with other SoCal teams may well have stellar records this time next month.

As such, the big event coming up is the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic this coming weekend, which the Dodgers have organized since 2010 and has featured big time programs like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi State, and (in this year’s case) Vanderbilt and TCU.

Not to mention the marquee match-up between UCLA and USC at Dodger Stadium on Sunday afternoon that ends the affair, what with the crowds decked out in true blue and cardinal to go with their gold, plus the bands and the cheerleaders.

I should know, because I’ve been to almost all of those games at Chavez Ravine and have made that Crosstown Rivalry contest the only one in which I cover and recap on this site.

Which I will do again this year, as the annual recap of this season’s Bruin-Trojan clash at Dodger Stadium – this Sunday at 3:00 p.m. – will appear on this site next Monday.

For more info on this clash, go to either UCLA’s or USC’s sites:





More Crosstown Rivalry action between the Bruins and the Trojans on the diamond. Photo courtesy of johnmigillen.photoshelter.com

A Morning With UCLA’s Rowing Team


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UCLA’s Rowing team during Saturday’s race. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com



This past Saturday I journeyed to Marina Del Rey, to the edge of Ballona Creek where it essentially becomes a river flowing into the Pacific Ocean,

To watch a bunch of UCLA athletes in long, thin boats race against two other school’s athletes – Stanford’s and San Diego State’s in this case – in their long thin boats.

Being that I live just a few miles up Ballona Creek, which I cross nearly every day, I felt that it was a convenient thing for me to do.

It was quite the chilly morning under gray, threatening skies, which made good its threat soon after I arrived at the UCLA Boathouse at the end of Fiji Way as roughly an hour before the start of the races, not only did the clouds open up as if God turned on a water faucet full blast, the winds were fairly heavy.

Thank goodness I and the other members of the UCLA Alumni Band – I was there as part of the band as we were invited to provide music for the occasion, being that it was the Bruin Rowers’ first race of the season – along with the other folks who were there were under an overhead tarp that the team provided on the roof of the boathouse, or we would have been soaked.

It was also a case of “Thank Goodness” when the rain let up, the skies turned fairly blue with a bit of white and light gray thrown in, and the sun peaked through after about a half-hour, me joking that the Alumni Band ought to play renditions of the Beatles’ classic “Here Comes The Sun” and Johnny Nash’s 1972 smash “I Can See Clearly Now”.


Another nice shot of the Bruins on the water. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com


Oh Yeah, About The Races…

Much like about eight years before, when I and the UCLA Alumni Band played for the UCLA Rowing Team when they went up against Notre Dame, Clemson, and their rivals from USC, I found myself having a very good time as I played my tenor saxophone with the rest of my Bruin alumni band mates.

It was cool watching the rowers go by as we were playing, and everyone, from the team to the staff to the parents (I met the mom, dad, and sister of a freshman on the team, and they were quite friendly), was very nice and accommodating, providing coffee and donuts and helping with various other things.

UCLA ended up winning the second and third varsity eight races, while finishing second to Stanford in the first varsity eight, which was considered the biggest race of the day.

Afterward, those Bruins completely gave the band props for being there and supporting them; I overheard the coach, Amy Fuller Kearney, mention that they want us back next year, when they host USC.

Which I fully plan to come to and provide support, as it was quite the good time.

Bottom Line:

This team is a part of Bruin Nation that should be checked out.

They are fun to watch, a very nice bunch of student-athletes, and like the rest of their blue and gold friends on the fields, courts, and floors, are very dedicated in what they do.

Of course it should go without saying as a Bruin alum that I wish these young ladies all the best this season.

For more information about this team and their schedule, go to UCLA’s website:



I like this shot of the Bruin rowers, the sun shining in their faces. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com




SOCAL SOCCER RETURNS: A Few Words On The Galaxy And The Brand-New LAFC


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The official logo of SoCal’s newest sports team. Image courtesy of matthewwolff.com





Coach: Sigi Schmid

Home: StubHub Center, Carson, CA. Capacity – 27,000

2017 Record: 8-18-8, 32 points

  • Second worst record in Major League Soccer
  • Worst record in the Western Conference
  • Worst record in franchise history

First Game/Home Game:

Sunday, March 4th, vs Portland Timbers at StubHub Center



Inaugural Season

Coach: Bob Bradley

Home: Banc Of California Stadium, located at the former site of the Sports Arena. Capacity – 22,000

First Game: Sunday, March 4th, at Seattle Sounders

First Home Game: Sunday, April 29, vs Seattle Sounders



  • Saturday, March 31st, at StubHub Center, 12:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 26th, at Banc of California Stadium 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, August 24th, at StubHub Center, 7:30 p.m.


Banc of California Stadium, the home of the brand-new Los Angeles Football Club. Photo courtesy of twitter.com


A Few Thoughts:

I’m going to be a bit brutal in my honesty here…

In my opinion, the only reason why there’s any sense of optimism over pro soccer season beginning in SoCal is the presence of a franchise that will be making its official debut in roughly 72 hours.

If it wasn’t for that Los Angeles Football Club, I don’t think anyone outside of the Angel City Brigade, the official fan club of the L.A. Galaxy, and other die-hard Galaxy supporters really cares that Major League Soccer is beginning its 23rd season this weekend.

The reason for that is quite a simple one;

The Galaxy – for all intents and purposes, the New York Yankees of Major League Soccer with its league-most five MLS Cups (championships) – flat-out sucked last season.

And even though they completely cleaned house with a new coach and a turnover of the majority of their roster,

Judging from how they did in their preseason games over the past few weeks, it doesn’t look like they’ll experience a big, 180-degree, worst-to-first turnaround this season.

In other words, much like the Lakers it will take a few years of rebuilding before the Galaxy can be considered relevant again.

As for SoCal’s newest team, I have no idea whatsoever how LAFC will do, being brand new and all.

I certainly don’t expect anything spectacular from them, as with the exception of the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights no franchise has done well in their first year – at least as far as their win-loss record.

But it will be interesting to see how they progress, and I do plan on checking out a game at their soon-to-open home, which is on the site of the old Sports Arena, next to the Coliseum.

And it will certainly be interesting how this town adapts to having two pro soccer squads, as with the Los Angeles Football Club beginning business on the pitch (field) L.A. now boasts eleven professional sports teams.

Which to my knowledge is second only to New York in the U.S as far as number of pro sports teams in one city.

As well as how things will go when the two teams play each other; the Galaxy and LAFC will clash three times in 2018, the first match being on March 31st at StubHub Center

Of course it should go without saying that I wish both of our soccer teams the best of luck this season.

Particularly the Los Angeles Football Club, as it should also go without saying that I welcome them to the SoCal Sports scene.


THE BIG QUESTION FOR SOCAL SOCCER IN 2018: How much will this team improve? Image courtesy of fullhdpictures.com



CONGRATULATIONS USA WOMEN’S HOCKEY! And Other Thoughts Regarding The Winter Olympics


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America’s newest heroes! Photo courtesy of brit.co



Until last night, I honestly wasn’t paying much attention to these Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Sure, I watched Team USA and the other countries march in the Opening Ceremonies and the torch get lit as always.

But outside of that, because I’ve always been more of a Summer Olympics guy than a Winter Olympics guy, I haven’t really cared about the goings on.

After all, I’ve never been on skis or ice skates, or in a bobsled in my life.



The complete post-overtime shootout between Team USA & Team Canada that decided the Gold Medal in Women’s Hockey in these Winter Olympics. Courtesy of YouTube.



And don’t get me started on curling; it looks like a glorified game of shuffleboard to me.

In fact, being the lifelong Southern Californian that I am, I have never really seen snow.

Sure, I remember well the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding drama from 1994, and I remember other figure skaters like Dorothy Hamill, Debi Thomas, Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski, but in recent years those it’s been more of a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately as the three lady figure skaters in PyeongChang now have no chance to medal in the free skate tonight.



A Olympics gold medal ceremony that the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team was waiting twenty years for. Courtesy of YouTube.


Which was why I was excited and thankful for some skaters of a completely different type – a team of female hockey players from different places in this country – providing the big highlight of these Winter Games last night with their 3-2 Gold Medal-clinching shootout win over Canada last night.

Which broke a twenty-year gold medal run by Canada and in my view provided the most exciting moment from Team USA in the Winter Olympics since the “Miracle On Ice” in Lake Placid in 1980.

Of course it goes without saying that a big, fat congratulations goes out to those young ladies!


A forever Olympic tradition renewed in PyeongChang. Photo courtesy of nytimes.com



Scenes From The NBA All-Star Weekend at Staples Center


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LeBron James dunking for two of his 29 points in his team’s 148-145 win over Team Stephen (Curry) in yesterday’s NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center, winning the game’s MVP award in the process. Photo courtesy of BleacherReport.com



Another all-star game.

Another high-scoring affair with a dearth of defense – until the end that is, which to me was surprising.

To be honest, the only sports all-star game I’ve ever paid attention to and still give the time of day to is Major League Baseball’s mid-summer classic.

Which meant that I paid no attention to this game whatsoever as personally speaking, it simply didn’t interest me.

Having said that…

Since this annual show of the best the NBA has to offer was held at Staples Center, I feel it’s only right to show photos and highlights not only of Sunday’s game, but of the various All-Star Weekend events held in downtown Los Angeles.

And although no Lakers or Clippers were chosen to play in the game, it did involve stars who hail from SoCal: Lawndale’s and UCLA’s Russell Westbrook, Compton’s and USC’s Demar DeRozan, Palmdale’s and Knight High’s Paul George, and Lakewood’s and Artesia High’s James Harden.

So here are the pics, clips, sights and sounds from this past weekend’s All-Star festivities.



LeBron James holding aloft his NBA All-Star Game MVP trophy. Photo courtesy of solecollector.com





Highlights from Team LeBron’s 148-145 win over Team Stephen at Staples Center on Sunday. Courtesy of YouTube.




Jamie Foxx (center), Justin Bieber (#6), and Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker (far left) during this weekend’s annual celebrity game. Photo courtesy of popsugar.com




Highlights from this year’s Slam Dunk Contest, won by the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell. Courtesy of YouTube.





Highlights from this year’s Three Point Shooting Contest, won by the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker. Courtesy of YouTube.




One of SoCal’s own, Compton High’s and USC’s DeMar DeRozan, bring the ball up on Sunday. Photo courtesy of zimbio.com




Lawndale Leuzinger High’s and UCLA’s Russell Westbrook, enjoying himself with LeBron on Sunday. Photo courtesy of CP24.com






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White Sox Park in Los Angeles, home to the West Coast Negro Baseball League’s L.A. White Sox in 1946 and where other Negro League teams played during the 1920s through the 1940s. Photo courtesy of waterandpower.org



In figuring out how to pay my annual homage to Black History Month on this blog, as the Dodgers and Angels’ pitchers and catchers – along with the other 28 major league baseball teams – reported to spring training and began preparing for the season this week,

And as baseball is my favorite sport and has been since I was a kid, a span of more than forty years,

I wanted to find out and write about any history that the Negro Leagues might have had in Los Angeles and Southern California during the years before Jackie Robinson made history in Brooklyn on April 15, 1947.

When I googled “Negro Leagues In California”, I hit the mother lode!

Here I was, a guy who considers myself to be a baseball connoisseur and something of an expert of the game and its history, and until today I knew nothing about how there was once a league called the West Coast Negro Baseball League, consisting of African-American ball players that had its only season in 1946 due to what I’m sure was the handwriting on the wall, Robinson playing for the Dodgers’ top farm club, the Montreal Royals, that year on his way to breaking the big league’s color line.

It’s a little embarrassing, actually, that I knew nothing about how the California Winter League opened its doors to black teams in 1910, letting clubs like black baseball pioneer Andrew “Rube” Foster’s Leland Giants play their white teams for over 35 years.


This is what the Los Angeles White Sox’ cap looked like. Photo courtesy of idealcapco.com


And it was also a tad embarrassing that I knew nothing about SoCal’s entry in the West Coast Negro Baseball League being called the Los Angeles White Sox, one of the league’s six franchises who played in South Los Angeles’ White Sox Park during the league’s only year in existence in ’46, though they existed for over twenty years before that.


The logo of L.A’s West Coast Negro Baseball League entry…


As I did my research, I found that some of black baseball’s biggest names dominated the California Winter League, guys like…

  • The Homestead Grays’ star first baseman Buck Leonard, considered to be “The Black Lou Gehrig”
  • James “Cool Papa” Bell, widely considered to be the fastest baseball player of all time, so much so that a common legend stated that Bell was so fast, he could turn off a bedroom light and be under the covers before the room got dark; he was also known to score from first on a sacrifice bunt numerous times during his career.
  • Mule Suttles, the California Winter League’s all-time home run leader with 64, and…
  • Satchel Paige, a name everyone knows, whose 56 wins and 766 strikeouts were the most in California Winter League history.

The biggest star for the L.A. White Sox, I discovered, was Dobie Moore, a shortstop who starred for the Kansas City Monarchs during the 1920s, and played winter ball in L.A. in 1920 and 1921.

Moore’s .385 batting average for those two seasons was the highest in California Winter League history.


Dobie Moore. Photo courtesy of zekebonura.blogspot.com


The stadium that the L.A. White Sox played in, White Sox Park, was located on the corner of 38th Street and Compton Ave. in South Los Angeles, having a capacity of 7,000.

Which was not bad for ballparks on the West Coast at that time.

White Sox Park opened in 1924 as a response to the all-white Pacific Coast League barring its doors to stadiums like (in L.A.’s case) Wrigley Field, located a few blocks south on 42nd Street, and Gilmore Field, where CBS Television City now stands.

Along with Negro League teams, it was also provided a place where Mexican American and Japanese American teams and players could play; it was a source of pride to those communities of color during the 1920s through the early 1940s.

By the end of World War II, White Sox Park was on its last legs, and was demolished in 1946. A housing project for veterans and the Ross Snyder Recreation Center stands at that site today.


Batting practice at White Sox Park. Photo courtesy of josemalamillo.wordpress.com



It was just as well; Jackie Robinson integrating the majors a year later would have killed the West Coast Negro Baseball League, just like it killed the Negro National and Negro American Leagues back east, as fans would ignore those black leagues in favor of seeing what Jackie – and later Larry Doby and Satchel Paige with the Cleveland Indians and guys like Jackie’s Dodger teammates Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella, plus Willie Mays and Ernie Banks – is doing in “The Show”.

Still, being an African-American with a degree in history, it was very stimulating to learn about black baseball in Southern California during the days of the infamous color barrier.

Needless to say, I’m quite glad to have learned about this; it provides yet another source of pride and accomplishment in black culture and the African-American community.

So much so that I think I’ll suit up either in my replica Homestead Grays jersey or my replica Grays cap – or both – when I play in my weekly pick-up softball game this weekend.

I hope you all enjoyed this baseball history lesson as much as I did…


Members of the Oakland Larks, one of the opponents of the Los Angeles White Sox during the West Coast Negro baseball League’s lone season. Photo courtesy of sjpl.org