Just got back from 12 days in Omaha, and I’m taking off for the Fourth of July weekend up to see family in the Bay Area. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and if any major news breaks, I’ll try to be on it.
OMAHA, Neb. -
Rosenblatt Stadium is a living, breathing testament to college baseball, a relic that has 50 years of memories coursing through its concourses. It pulses with every pitch, smells like 1952 and 1965 and 1983, oozes small-town charm.
The College World Series will leave the venerated grounds next season, heading down 10th Street and settling in at the new monolithic TD Ameritrade Ballpark, a modern marvel of beauty and comfort.
But the ol’ ballpark had a little more magic in her, she wasn’t ready to watch the young ballplayers go.
Rosenblatt held on for two extra innings, an 11th inning single by South Carolina’s Whit Merrifield driving home Scott Wingo to lift the Gamecocks to the 2-1 win over UCLA in front of 24,390.
“I was sitting out by the third baseline for opening ceremonies with the other teams, thinking, ‘What a venue, what an atmosphere, what a history, to be able to come in the last year, to be part of the College World Series and the closing of Rosenblatt,” South Carolina coach Ray Tanner said. “And it dawned on me, it would be wonderful to go deep into this thing and be around at the end. And to be able to survive and win the last game is really incredible.
“I know the new stadium will be very special and a great facility. But this is history.”
Incoming freshmen linebacker Josh Shirley, wide receiver Paul Richardson and cornerback Shaquille Richardson were dismissed from the UCLA football team today after the three players were arrested last Wednesday on suspicion of felony theft.
“The three young men know they made a terrible mistake,” Neuheisel said in a release. “We expect our players to behave a certain way and there are consequences when they don’t. Paul, Shaquille and Josh are paying a steep price for their lapse in judgment. They will not be allowed to enroll in school this fall and will not have the opportunity to begin their UCLA academic and athletic careers.
“Whether they are allowed to enroll for Winter Quarter will be determined at a later date. That decision will be based on several factors, including their behavior.”
Neuheisel has left the window open for a return to the program in January if the players meet requirements set by the team. However, the Office of the Dean of Students might impose additional discipline.
The three players were arrested near Hedrick Hall by University Police, reportedly on suspicion of stealing a purse. They were charged with suspicion of felony theft and released on Thursday, the Richardsons receiving $20,000 bail, while Shirley received none.
It is a sharp turn of events, particularly for Shirley, who was expected to compete for a spot on the depth chart after a fantastic senior season at Kaiser of Fontana. Shirley, rated the No. 12 outside linebacker in the class of 2010 by Scout.com, shocked the football community by signing with UCLA on Feb. 3. Most recruiting analysts believed he had ruled out the Bruins.
Shaq and Paul Richardson, meanwhile, were expected to redshirt this season, as they were to enter positions of strength. Shaq Richardson was rated the No. 27 cornerback out of Los Alamitos High School, while Paul Richardson was rated the No. 22 wide receiver out of Serra High of Gardena.
OMAHA, Neb. –
The South Carolina baseball team got its wakeup call pretty early on Monday morning.
A fire alarm blared in the middle of the night, rousing the Gamecocks and forcing them outside in the cold.
The UCLA baseball team got its wakeup call pretty early, too.
This time, it was South Carolina that blazed.
The Gamecocks scored five runs in the first three innings off a rusty Gerrit Cole and rode a terrific start from pitcher Blake Cooper to a 7-1 win in the first game of the College World Series championship series at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium in front of 23,181.
Cole went on to a season-high 11 hits on a season-high six runs (four earned) while striking out just two, which tied a season low.
“They had a great approach; I don’t know what the approach was but whatever it was, it worked,” Cole said. “They touched the ball with two strikes, constantly worked counts, fouled balls off. I jumped ahead of a lot of batters. Had a lot of guys 0-1, 1-2. And they touched the ball.”
LOS ANGELES – UCLA’s 2010-11 men’s basketball schedule is highlighted by non-conference contests in the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York, during Thanksgiving weekend; a road game at Kansas in the Pac-10/Big 12 Series (Dec. 2) and the return of Steve Lavin, who will bring his St. John’s Red Storm team into Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 5, 2011.
In all, the schedule features seven games against teams that were in the field of 65 in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and another possible two games against NCAA Tournament teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
While the field for the 16-team NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 15-26) has not been announced, the UCLA Bruins will host the West Regional (Nov. 15-17). The Bruins will play on only two of the three days of the West Regional and then will either advance to the Semifinals in New York or the Consolation Rounds, depending on the outcome of Regional play.
The Bruins will also play in the 17th annual Wooden Classic on Saturday, Dec. 18 at Honda Center in Anaheim (opponent to be announced at a later date). This will be UCLA’s eighth-consecutive Wooden Classic appearance and 14th overall (9-4 in prior contests).
Another non-conference highlight includes opening the regular season at home with a local team (Cal State Northridge/Nov. 12) in Pauley Pavilion before hosting the NIT Season Tip-Off West Regional.
The Bruins also host five other non-conference teams (Montana/Dec. 5; Cal Poly/Dec. 11; UC Davis/Dec. 13; Montana State/Dec. 21 and UC Irvine/Dec. 23) before beginning Pac-10 play.
UCLA opens conference play on Dec. 29 with Washington State before a New Year’s Eve contest at home with Washington (Dec. 31). The 2011 Pac-10 Tournament, featuring all 10 teams, will once again be held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles (March 9-12).
In 2009-10, UCLA finished with a 14-18 overall record and in a tie for a fifth-place finish in the Pac-10 Conference (8-10). The Bruins return three starters in junior guard Malcolm Lee, and sophomore forwards Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson.
The schedule is tentative and subject to change due to television.
Tentative 2010-11 UCLA Men’s Basketball Schedule
Thu., Nov. 4, Westmont College (Exhibition)
Tue., Nov. 9, Cal State Los Angeles (Exhibition)
Fri., Nov. 12, Cal State Northridge
Mon., Nov. 15, NIT Season Tip-Off Regionals
Tue., Nov. 16, NIT Season Tip-Off Regionals
Wed., Nov. 17, NIT Season Tip-Off Regionals
Mon., Nov. 22, NIT Season Tip-Off Consolation Rounds
Tue., Nov. 23, NIT Season Tip-Off Consolation Rounds
Wed., Nov. 24, NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinals (New York)
Fri., Nov. 26, NIT Season Tip-Off Finals (New York)
Thu., Dec. 2, at Kansas (Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series)
Sun., Dec. 5, Montana
Sat., Dec. 11, Cal Poly
Mon., Dec. 13, UC Davis
Sat., Dec. 18, at Wooden Classic
Tue., Dec. 21, Montana State
Thu., Dec. 23, UC Irvine
Wed., Dec. 29, Washington State
Fri., Dec. 31, Washington
Sun., Jan. 9, at USC
Thu., Jan. 13, at Oregon State
Sat., Jan. 15, at Oregon
Thu., Jan. 20, California
Sat., Jan. 22, Stanford
Thu., Jan. 27, at Arizona State
Sat., Jan. 29, at Arizona
Wed., Feb. 2, USC
Sat., Feb. 5, St. John’s
Thu., Feb. 10, Oregon
Sat., Feb. 12, Oregon State
Thu., Feb. 17, at Stanford
Sat., Feb. 19, at California
Thu., Feb. 24, Arizona
Sat., Feb. 26, Arizona State
Thu., Mar. 3, at Washington
Sat., Mar. 5, at Washington State
Mar. 9-12, at Pac-10 Tournament (Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA)
Mar. 17-20, NCAA First and Second Rounds
Mar. 24-27, NCAA Regionals
Apr. 2 & 4, NCAA Final Four
All games broadcast on the UCLA/ISP Sports Network (AM 570 KLAC in Los Angeles).
JG: OK, let’s wrap this up with a tough subject…tell me about your first John Wooden experience, as someone who played at UCLA when he coached…DG: What resonates the most for me was not that I was going to Pauley Pavilion and watching the basketball team win. I can remember watching practice there, too, because they were open. All of those things are still very clear in my mind. But what stands out for me even more is when Coach Wooden came to our baseball practices. Baseball was his first love, and it remained a love for him throughout the years. When we were undergraduates, after they were done with practices, he would come out because he was a good friend of our head coach, and he would come out to Sawtelle Field – which is now Jackie Robinson Stadium and was then just basically bleachers – and he would sit up in those bleachers and watch us practice. Whenever he was there, we knew he was there, and I can remember just wanting to make certain I turned the double plays a little bit quicker. The bat speed was a little better, the arm got a little stronger. My first step was quicker. You just wanted to do things that would make him say, ‘Well done.’ It was always that way. I know he had that kind of influence on everyone he met through the years. But I can remember that very clearly.
JG: And the other big news, the Pac-10 went to 11 to 16 to 28 to 46 and finally to 12; the first question to ask is, you hear all these rumors, and you’re the AD at UCLA, what’s going through your mind when you hear Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor?
DG: I felt the same way when I heard the NCAA Tournament was going to 96. Look, I was intimately involved in all these discussions. All of the planning, the negotiations. I know what was fact and I know what was fiction. There was a lot more fiction than there was fact. I take a lot of the media reports and what “sources” say with a grain of salt. I know what we’re doing and I know why we’re doing it. The issue of expansion was not a fait accompli in any way, shape or form. We had talked about the possibility of this being something the conference needed to before we even hired a commissioner, because of our media rights deal was going to end in 2012. As you look towards the future, we had to evaluate what our conference might look like – is 10 the right number? Did it at least make sense to do our due diligence and look at expansion? When the commissioner was hired, that was one of the charges given to him.
JG: Do you want it to eventually to get to 16? Is 12 the right number for right now?
DG: If I had my druthers, 10 would always be the right number. The Pac-10 had and has a great conference with 10 teams. Natural rivals, geographically in the right place, and there was sort of a comfort zone. We had a unique niche on the West coast. That, and from a competitive standpoint, when you evaluate the success of the conference in a broad array of sports, there isn’t a conference in the country that compares. That being said, when you look at where the future of intercollegiate athletics is headed, we can either sit back and take it on the chin, or be aggressive. Bringing in Colorado and Utah gives us the opportunity to go to 12, to possibly have two divisions, to possibly have a football championship, to maximize the media rights package.
JG: On the flip side, the football program seems to be soaring. Rick Neuheisel, time and time again, has talked about his maturation as a coach and as a person, understanding that at UCLA he had a little more time than he felt he had at Colorado and Washington. When he went to Colorado, he had to win NOW. Here, it’s 4-8, 7-6 and you see some of those building steps; why do you have a little more patience here?
DG: It’s frightening to hear people talk about the need to win now. In some respects, that’s what our business has become, and that’s a shame. As Coach Wooden so aptly said, ‘Be the best that you can be.’ At UCLA, being the best we can be in the end, results in great success. But there shouldn’t be a disappointment when a team doesn’t meet that mark, if they perform to THEIR optimum levels, if they perform in a manner that brings pride to a university or to each other. The whole notion of patience is one that more in my profession need to practice. I understand how difficult it is. Rick is building the program, and I knew he would build the program. It required us to recruit at a higher level, to get depth in areas where we’ve struggled, to have the kind of leadership at the helm that gives you a chance to win every game. We’re getting there. We should be a better program this year, and we should be even better next year.
JG: Do you have a long-term goal for the program? A five-year plan?
Our goals and aspirations have not changed. We want to build a nationally competitive program. We want to be one of the top programs in the country on an annual basis. As someone defines that as being a top-5 program every year, then that might not be realistic. We want to be in the national conversation, however that’s defined. We need to get there first. We need to set a bar, and continue to build off of that. There’s no set time-table. Obviously, you want to be successful because you have pride in your staff. The players want to do it for each other, for their families, for the university. Rick wants to do it for the university that allowed him to have a great life. I want to see Rick do it here because we all love UCLA. That’s why you do it. We need for our fans to be able to be patient and hang in there with us as we build this thing. Our fans need to stay with us, stick with us in good times and bad.