With Washington-based basketball recruiting targets and Bellarmine Prep teammates Abdul Gaddy and Avery Bradley losing earlier than anticipated in an AAU tournament in SoCal, it apparently did UCLA no favors.
I was hearing Gaddy and Bradley were going to stop by campus Friday, the first day players could meet up during unofficial visits, to get a look around campus and talk to the coaching staff.
Instead, the word I received was both were heading home and would not come by campus.
A number of folks asked me about Rick Neuheisel’s non-conference scheduling philosophy, and recently he talked about it.
With he knowledge of UCLA playing non-conference games against Tennessee, BYU and Fresno State this season, and with Tennessee and Kansas State on the 2009 schedule and Kansas State and Texas on the 2010 schedule, here is what Neuheisel said.
“You should play one marquee non-conference game a year,” Neuheisel said. “One marquee game that you are guaranteed a national audience and give your fans that intersectional game where they go every other year to a big name place and those other two games, you have a great chance to be successful. …What you don’t want to do is put yourself in harm’s way of missing the post season because you over scheduled the non-conference.”
I asked Neuheisel about moving the Tennessee game to the opener and making it so there are seven straight games (Sept. 13-Oct. 25) without a bye, and he said it was worth the reward.
“But I get 12 days between game one and game two, which is where you get your biggest improvement,” he said. “I was going to play Tennessee anyway and now I get a marquee game where they are talking about UCLA for a week on the most watched sports network (ESPN) and we’re getting publicity and if you can answer it with a good performance you can parlay that.”
Having the Dallas Cowboys training in Oxnard is giving the UCLA coaching staff something to do. Not only did members of the offensive staff go Monday, but Bruins defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker also went this week to check out the Cowboys and see if there was anything he could incorporate into UCLA’s defense.
I spoke to UCLA power forward Drew Gordon the other day, and he said his ailing foot was doing fine. He is playing in the men’s gym, but not as much as some of the other players because UCLA wants him to take it easy and not push his foot too hard.
In watching him in the few games I saw, nothing stood out as he just floated up and down the court. He said he anticipates being ready well in advance for practice and isn’t experiencing pain in his foot, which he broke late in his senior season.