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Bruin Nation is desperately hoping for a better season from the guys who wear these helmets this fall.

 

Actually, it’s two bits of good news to go with one fairly significant bit of bad news.

FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS:

Part 1. UCLA’s basketball program got a major boost yesterday when two of the five players that declared for the NBA Draft, Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, announced that they were withdrawing from the draft and remaining Bruins.

Talk about coming to their senses and seeing reason!

After seeing Lonzo Ball, T. J. Leaf, and Ike Anigbogu leave (Ball and Leaf’s departures were, of course, expected; Ball is projected to not only be the #2 overall pick , but also to stay in L.A. and wear the purple and gold of the Lakers, who could sure use him. Anibogu? Look for him to be playing in the D-League or overseas this November), only the fact that UCLA has the second-ranked recruiting class coming kept me from saying that the team will revert to its 15-17 form from 2015-16.

Now with Welsh, a center who had a very good year and is continuing to get better, and Holiday, who was one of the Pac-12 Conference’s best sixth men, back in Westwood, UCLA’s chances at postseason glory in 2018 has just improved leaps and bounds.

I don’t think they’ll duplicate their 32-win season from this past year, but I do expect them to be very good – even though USC, with all of their starters returning from a team that set a school record for most wins, will post a major challenge and give SoCal something that it hasn’t seen in a LONG time:

A real Crosstown Rivalry battle on the hard court.

 

The University of Southern California Trojans take on the UCLA Bruins in the first round of the 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV on March 9, 2017. (Samuel Marshall/Eric Evans Photography) A fond farewell goes to the two Bruins on the right and the one on the far left, while a fond welcome back goes to the Bruin second from the left…

 

And speaking of those rivals from south of downtown L.A…

Part 2. Thanks to the baseball team’s sweep of the Trojans – at ‘SC, no less – UCLA captured the Crosstown Cup for the third time in five years, the final score being 105-85, with each team getting five or ten points for beating the other.

Much kudos goes to the teams (besides baseball) that got Bruin Nation the Cup by beating the Trojans:

  • Women’s Soccer
  • Women’s Volleyball (swept two from USC)
  • Women’s Basketball (see Women’s Volleyball)
  • Men’s Basketball (took two of three from ‘SC, including knocking them out of the Pac-12 Tournament)
  • Men’s Volleyball (again, see Women’s Volleyball)
  • Women’s Cross Country (finished ahead of ‘SC in the Pac-12 Championships)
  • Men’s and Women’s Tennis (each split two games)
  • Women’s Water Polo (also split two games)
  • Men’s Track and Field (beat the Trojans in the annual meet)

When you have a college that resides in the same city as you, it’s always nice to beat them in anything.

 

UCLA’s Joe Bruin mascot and Spirit Squad at Pauley Pavilion…

 

 

ALL RIGHT, HERE’S THE BAD NEWS:

After two decades, someone has finally matched UCLA’s total of 113 NCAA championships.

And in the proverbial rubbing of salt on the wounds, it came at the expense of a Bruin team as Stanford beat a favored UCLA women’s water polo squad in the national title game.

Stanford, a school that is academically every bit as good as the Ivy League institutions, complete with the nation’s lowest admissions rate (6%), has been creeping up on UCLA’s championship total for a while; Bruin Nation dodged a bullet when the Cardinal’s women’s golf team fell short in their NCAA tournament.

The way things are trending, by this time next year the Bruins will no longer have the distinction of being able to say that they have more NCAA championships than any other school.

My Opinion of That…

As far as disappointment on a scale of one to ten, I give this a 15.

To be brutally honest, I don’t believe that the UCLA athletic department as a whole is putting as much an emphasis on winning as it should.

Not even close, as in the tradition of “What have you done for me lately?”, in the past five years Stanford has more than doubled the number of championship plaques that the Bruins have taken back to Morgan Center – 12 to UCLA’s five.

UCLA teams that once dominated the college scene, like track and field, are now irrelevant.

Great athletes who have gone on to success still abound, and it’s not like the Bruins have become the Bad News Bears or Charlie Brown’s team, but…

At the end of the day, in the real world – and it pains me very much to say this – the only thing that people truly care about is whether or not you won.

Just like when one goes for a job, it doesn’t matter if you did your best; if you’re not the one hired, you’re not able to make a living.

In other words, no one cares who comes in second or third.

Put it another way – who remembers any of the silver or bronze medalists at the most recent Olympic games?

That’s what I thought.

As far as how this pertains to my alma mater, all I have to say is this…

Something has got to change, or else I fear that one day – maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday (to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in the classic movie “Casablanca”) – UCLA Bruin Athletics will be considered a “has-been”, a program that was once the best in the country, but to put it politely has seen is better days and is now just another one of the 300 in Division I.

I pray that doesn’t happen – at least within my lifetime.

 

You didn’t think I would do a UCLA article without including something from the gymnastics team, didn’t you? Check out Kyla Ross doing her thing…

 

Let me sum this up in a blunt fashion…

I WANT TO WIN.

I WANT CHAMPIONSHIPS FROM MY COLLEGIATE ALMA MATER, AND I DARE ANY OF MY FELLOW UCLA ALUMS TO DISAGREE WITH ME.

I WANT MY BRUIN TEAMS TO USE ANY MEANS NECESSARY (within the NCAA rules; I don’t want any UCLA teams going on probation or sanctions or any USC/SMU-type scandals) TO WIN TITLES.

ANYTHING SHORT OF THAT NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED A DISAPPOINTMENT ON SOME LEVEL IF NOT AN OUTRIGHT FAILURE.

THIS IS THE MENTALITY THAT EVERYONE IN BRUIN NATION NEEDS TO ADAPT.

OR ELSE THIS PROCESS OF BEING LEFT BEHIND WILL BE COMPLETE.

Which will be truly devastating to this alum.

Just being honest.

Have a great summer, fellow Bruins…

 

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero with the head of Under Armour, whose gear the Bruin teams will be wearing starting July 1st.

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