UCLA crushes the Waves, 62-39

From Vinny Bonsignore…

At the end of a long, dreary Monday came a glimmer of hope for UCLA.

The Bruins basketball team showed definite signs of waking up from its early season slumber in a 62-39 win over Pepperdine at the Sports Arena.

Lost in all the drama unfolding across the hall with the UCLA football team, which culminated Monday with the firing of underachieving head coach Rick Neuheisel, is the underwhelming start by the Bruins on the hardwood.

The back-to-back losses to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State mixed in with some off-court turmoil by temperamental forward Reeves Nelson and a pair of blowout setbacks in Hawaii to Kansas and Michigan created a worst-case scenario for a team looking to rebound from two relatively down seasons.

Then came Monday and the definite step in the right direction the Bruins took against Pepperdine, by far their most convincing, complete performance of the season.

For the first time all year UCLA (2-4) successfully defended the perimeter, especially through a first half in which Pepperdine managed to make just 5 of 19 shots from the field while shooting a dismal 26.3 percent from the field.

Best of all was the 0-for-3 the Waves (3-3) shot from 3-point range, as the Bruins have had particular trouble slowing teams down from behind the ark.

Pepperdine finished the night making 15 of 48 shots and 3 of 9 three-pointers, with Taylor Darby scoring nine to lead the way.

“Our need for a win tonight was exemplified by how hard we played defensively,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “Our team defense was by far our best effort of the year. That’s how we have to play.”

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On facilities upgrades…

Here’s what Dan Guerrero told me about specific facility upgrades:

“Spaulding were looking to improve. We’ve already met with campus architect about facility that can be utilized for a training table, possibly academics for football, really to augment what we have existing in the football program. We’re not sure whether the footprint of Spaulding enables to do that. The constraint that we have in a lot of respects is we’re on a postage stamp, and there’s a master plan for every square inch of this place. But we’re working on what we can garner on campus for additional facilities.”

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UCLA will apply for bowl game

Another tidbit from the Dan Guerrero press conference was his revelation that the school would indeed seek a bowl game if the team does indeed lose to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. There was some doubt but Guerrero said it was for the players, fans and school.

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More from press conference

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel:

On finding out about being fired:
“We all know what we’re getting into when we get into this profession. I’m excited for this chance on Friday, and if it’s going to be my last time at UCLA, I hope it’s special.”

On the reasons of the decision:
“I didn’t ask. I thanked Dan for the opportunity. I don’t need reasons. Certainly when you’re UCLA coach, you’d like to play better against USC. When you lose in fashion we did, that’s a difficult pill to swallow.”

On talking to the players:
“I have not had a chance to talk with players. We have practice at 5 and i’ll have chance to make sure they understand it’s not about me, it’s about us. We get to tee it up against very, very talented Oregon team.

On his future:
“This has kind of hit me between the eyes a little bit. I’ve been kind of on one track, which is to do the best I can with this particular team. That will be the case at least through Friday. then we’ll make decisions about which course to take. I love coaching, I know that.”

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Assorted press conference quotes, notes

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero:
Opening statement:
“Decisions like this are never easy, in particular with one of your own. There will always be pain and heartache involved. But there was no doubt in the fact I thought that this move was necessary at this time.”

On money for a new coaching staff:
“We will have obviously more resources at our disposal to be more competitive in the marketplace. The new Pac-12 contract will provide some resources in that regard. Have had wonderful support from external community that they’re willing to help in that regard.”

On what led to Neuheisel’s dismissal:
“Most notably, inconsistency that plagued the team this year. The mark of a good program is one that is consistent game in game out. One you can be assured of effort you’d get on game to game basis. We just weren’t there. We certainly had some losses of epic proportions.”

On the timing of the decision:
“In making this decision, I make no assumptions about outcome of the game. By making the decision today it gives us the opportunity to begin the search immediately.”

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Assorted press conference quotes

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero:
Opening statement:
“Decisions like this are never easy, in particular with one of your own. There will always be pain and heartache involved. But there was no doubt in the fact I thought that this move was necessary at this time.”

On money for a new coaching staff:
“We will have obviously more resources at our disposal to be more competitve in the marketplace. The new Pac-12 contract will provide some resources in that regard. Have had wonderful support from external community that theyre willing to help in that regard.”

On what led to Neuheisel’s dismissal:
“Most notably, incconsistency that plagued the team this year. The mark of a good program is one that is consistent game in game out. One you can be assured of effort you’d get on game to game basis. We just weren’t there. We certainly had some losses of epic proportions.”

On the timing of the decision:
“In making this decision, I make no assumptions about outcome of the game. By making the decision today it gives us the opportunity to begin the search immediately.”

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Coleman named All-Pac-12 second-team, four named honorable mention

Rarely does a team with a chance for a conference title have just one member on the all-conference first- or second-team.

But Derrick Coleman, named to the second team as a special teams player, was the lone UCLA representative, as announced Monday.

Johnathan Franklin, Andrew Abbott, Kai Maiava and Nelson Rosario were named honorable mention selections for the Bruins, who play at Autzen Stadium on Friday night against the Oregon Ducks.

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