Here’s a story from USA Today on UCLA’s basketball season:
Here’s a good story from the Washington Post on the progression fo the EagleBank Bowl…
On the matchup:
“It was good for our team to get a chance to meet Temple, get to meet the opponent, and realize how proud they are of their accomplishments. It was clear they’re a very prideful organization that is looking forward to this contest, as are we.”
On Kevin Prince’s rocky season:
“It’s been an unbelievably big-time learning experience as a freshman. To have all that happen to you in a freshman season is unique. He’ll grow from it by leaps and bounds. Hopefully he’s got a great game in him.”
There is a hunger lurking in the depths of the UCLA Bruins.
It is a strange feeling, this gnawing in the pit of their stomachs, which sank to further depths last season as they lost five, six, seven and ultimately eight games, their season aborted, a bowl bid becoming only a fleeting whisper.
Likewise, there is a hunger deep down in the hearts of the Temple Owls.
It is a strange feeling, this famine that has spread across three decades, seemingly with no end in sight, 30 years worth of lonesome Decembers, a bowl bid so far in the distance that players could book their flights home during spring ball.
And yet here they stand, the Bruins and the Owls, battling today at 1:30 p.m. in the EagleBank Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. One program back in the postseason after a one-year drought that felt like an eternity. One program back in the postseason after a 30-year drought that was an eternity.
“Thirty years is a long time, so I understand their hunger and where they’re coming from,” UCLA senior cornerback Alterraun Verner said. “But also, we have high expectations for ourselves and for our program. We’re hungry to establish ourselves again as a team that deserves to be in a bowl every year. “Yeah, they’re very hungry, but I think we’re hungry in a different way.”
UCLA All-Americans Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Chris Horton (Washington Redskins) will serve as UCLA’s Honorary Captains for the EagleBank Bowl.
Alterraun Verner, Reggie Carter and Ryan Moya have accepted invitations to play in the 85th East-West Shrine Game. The game will be held Jan. 23, 2010, in Orlando, Fla., kicking off at 3 p.m. EST.
Rick Neuheisel, on what it was like for the Bruins to discover they were travelling to Washington, D.C.:
“When we received our bid, when we finally knew Navy finished their job – by the way, thank you Navy – it was a lot of fun to talk to our team about visiting D.C. Realzing how few had been to our national capital. There were a number of them walking two blocks to see the White House, and you could see the big look in their eyes. This city makes you proud to be an American.”
On outside perception:
“We’re hungry, yeah, but there’s a lot of fighting that, ‘People are just happy to be here,’ thing. It’s not really inside the organization, it’s outside; all the media, the fans, everybody saying, ‘Oh, you made it to a bowl game, great, great, great.’ There’s still work to do.”
On the team’s work ethic:
“Like coach Golden likes to say, ‘Be where you are.’ When you’re out in functions like this, you talk with people and accept the grace, accept the high-fives and all that. But when you get in the facility, keep your head down and work. We ended this season with a regular season loss that knocked us out of the conference championship. We ended the season on a bitter note – yeah, we won nine in a row, but if you lose two in a row to end your career, that’s not a good way to go out.”
With an extra week to prepare for the EagleBank Bowl, Temple head coach Al Golden had his players watch more film than Ebert and Roeper.
Though the Owls’ were unsure of their opponents just as long as the Bruins were, Temple was able to get a head start on UCLA.
“He’s had us going through different phases of practice, getting prepared for these guys,” Temple defensive tackle Andre Neblett said. “We know they have to travel over here, and we’re already here, and that just gave us extra opportunities to watch more film on these guys, learn what their weaknesses are.”
The Bruins, though, have essentially moved past the film work and into the fun stuff.
“We installed all of our stuff last week, and it’s a long time to prepare for a bowl game,” Paulsen said. “Right now it’s about making sure we know the ins-and-outs of everything we’re doing. Making sure everything is really sharp. Practice is practice, and we’re going to be hitting. But the mindset going in to these practices is more about mental sharpness rather than physically building yourself up.”