UCLA to open Maui Invitational against UNLV

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UCLA last won the Maui Invitational in 2006. Doing so again this year would be a big statement for Steve Alford.

The eight-team tournament will signal the Bruins’ first significant competition of the season, starting with UNLV on Nov. 23 at 8:30 pm PT (ESPN2). The Runnin’ Rebels have regressed under head coach Dave Rice — missing the NCAA tournament the last two years — but still have a talented roster that includes five-star center Stephen Zimmerman.

After that game, UCLA will face either Kansas or Chaminade the next day. The other side of the tournament bracket consists of St. John’s, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Indiana.

“You get a really good litmus test right away,” Alford said. “You get a really good feel from a coaching standpoint, playing three games in a row against quality opponents. You’re going to get a really good idea and picture of who your team is going into December.” Continue reading

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UCLA baseball hires LMU’s Bryant Ward as assistant coach

UCLA baseball has hired Bryant Ward away from Loyola Marymount, filling in a spot on its staff that opened a month ago.

Ward will serve as the Bruins’ assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, overseeing the infield and hitting instruction the same way T.J. Bruce did for the past five years. Bruce, a tenacious recruiter, took Nevada’s head coaching job in late June.

Ward appears to be cast out of a similar mold. At LMU, he helped pull in a top-25 recruiting class in 2011, the school’s first in 15 years — and replicated the feat two years later. The East Carolina alum also coached previously at the University of South Florida and Cal State Fullerton.

His two-year tenure with the Titans (2005-06) put him on the same staff as former UCLA assistant Rick Vanderhook, who just completed his fourth season as CSUF head coach.

“We are very excited about Bryant joining the program,” UCLA head coach John Savage said in a statement. “He is a dedicated coach who excels at teaching infielders and is an outstanding recruiter. He will bring tremendous passion and energy to the program.”

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Pac-12 links: FCC approval of AT&T—DirecTV merger could help Pac-12 Networks

» The FCC announced on Friday that it has approved AT&T’s takeover of DirecTV, a move that could clear the way for the Pac-12 Networks to appear on the satellite provider. The breakdown in negotiations between DirecTV and the Pac-12 has been arguably the biggest blemish on the resume of commissioner Larry Scott.

Bay Area News Group columnist Jon Wilner examined the issue earlier this week.

» Each Division I school will receive $18.9 million from the NCAA to fund cost-of-attendance-based scholarships and other projects.

» USC’s Adoree’ Jackson wants to win the Heisman and an Olympic gold medal.

» Oregonian columnist John Canzano no longer believes in Dana Altman — and according to emails he obtained, the Oregon administration may not either. Continue reading

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Four-star athlete Rahyme Johnson becomes UCLA’s first 2017 commit

There are still 194 days left until UCLA’s next group of recruits can sign their letters of intent, but Rahyme Johnson is already looking ahead.

With more than 500 days left until his own National Signing Day, the four-star athlete announced his commitment to the Bruins on Friday, becoming the first member of their 2017 class. He’s also ranked a three-star outside linebacker by Rivals.com, as well as one of the top 25 recruits in California.

Johnson has more of a receiver’s build right now at 6-foot-4, 196 pounds, but still has two seasons left at Los Angeles Salesian to fill out his frame.

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What does it take to succeed as a true freshman quarterback?

UCLA will likely turn to Josh Rosen this season, making the St. John Bosco product the latest true freshman to start at quarterback. (Scott Varley/Staff)

UCLA will likely turn to Josh Rosen this season, making the St. John Bosco product the latest true freshman to start at quarterback. (Scott Varley/Staff)

Josh Rosen will almost certainly be UCLA’s starting quarterback this season. How successful he’ll be as a true freshman is another question. To try and answer that, I asked a few players who had started games their first year on campus — from Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor to Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg.

The story is part of our college football preview package, which comes out in magazine form as part of all LANG newspaper editions this Sunday. You can check out some of that content online, including (too early) USC-UCLA predictions and games to watch each week.

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