Steve Alford agrees to buyout with New Mexico

Over a month after his sudden departure from Albuquerque, Steve Alford has agreed to a buyout with the University of New Mexico.

The UCLA basketball coach will pay a $300,000 buyout, according to a statement from the Bruins. UNM officials announced Friday afternoon that Alford’s buyout will produce a “net benefit” of $625,000, but UCLA stated that the rest of that sum will come from bonuses the coach had previously given up when he terminated his contract with the Lobos. A buyout agreement has not yet been signed.

Alford took the UCLA job on March 30, just ten days after agreeing to a 10-year extension with New Mexico. After the 48-year-old signed a seven-year, $18.2-million deal with the Bruins, New Mexico said that Alford owed the $1 million buyout stipulated in their new agreement.

The coach instead offered $200,000, the buyout indicated on his prior contract. He had never signed a finalized contract — only a term sheet contingent on one — but the Lobos argued that since Alford had not given proper 30-day notice, the new one still took effect on April 1.

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Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks named to Lott watchlist

UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks were both named today to the Lott IMPACT Trophy’s 42-man watch list. The award, founded in 2004, is given annually to a college defensive player for both on-field performance as well as personal character. Eleven Pac-12 players made the latest list, but Cal’s Dante Hughes is the conference’s only winner — though Arizona State’s Pat Tillman and Stanford’s Owen Marecic both received honorary trophies.

Barr ranked second nationally with 13.5 sacks in 2012, and is projected as a top-10 NFL draft pick entering his second season on defense. Kendricks led the Pac-12 with 150 tackles, the most by a Bruin since Jerry Robinson’s school-record 161 in 1978.

The complete watch list is below the jump, with Pac-12 players bolded. Continue reading

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Owamagbe Odighizuwa out for 2013 season

The defensive line, one of UCLA football’s most battered units this spring, just suffered its biggest loss. Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa will likely miss the 2013 season after undergoing his second offseason hip surgery.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the news Tuesday that Odighizuwa had the operation for a frayed rotator cuff in his right hip. Once the five-star gem of the Bruins’ 2010 recruiting class, he had sat out all of spring practice while recovering from surgery on his left hip.

Coach Jim Mora said last Monday that Odighizuwa was healing well, but needed to get his right hip checked. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound end was a likely successor for Datone Jones, who recently became UCLA’s first first-round draft pick since 2006. Odighizuwa finished with 44 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries last season, and will have one year of eligibility left after if he redshirts this fall. He totaled 32 tackles through his freshman and sophomore years. Continue reading

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(Bi-)Weekly Q&A — 5/12/13 Answers

Q: What is the status on Lacy Westbrook? Will he be cleared to play by the fall or will he take a medical retirement? Could you follow-up on the medical condition of the players that have taken a medical retirement under Coach Mora?

Not sure if medical retirement is in Lacy Westbrook’s future, but he doesn’t seem likely to return for the start of fall. I’ll try and catch up with the other guys in the next weeks.

Q: What are your impressions of Steve Alford? Continue reading

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Women’s water polo trying for UCLA’s 109th NCAA title

UCLA has been stuck at 108 NCAA championships since December 2011. At 4 p.m. today, the women’s water polo team will try to keep their drought-snapping shot alive, facing two-loss Stanford in the national semifinals. You can watch the game, held at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool, via live stream.

The Bruins (27-6) have met the Cardinal three times this season, losing by three, seven and four points. UCLA leads the country with seven women’s water polo championships, but hasn’t reached a title game since 2009. Stanford is aiming for its third straight trophy.

UPDATE: Stanford ended UCLA’s season with a 5-3 win. The Cardinal will face USC on Sunday for the title.

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How often will Kyle Anderson play point guard?

Before he lost his job, Ben Howland said Kyle Anderson would become a full-time point guard — at least on offense.

Over a month after UCLA made its coaching change, that’s no longer the case. Filling in the void left by Larry Drew II is still paramount, but the Bruins may help themselves more by utilizing the multi-talented Anderson all over the court.

“We’ve got to figure out what’s going to be best for the Kyle,” head coach Steve Alford said. “We’ve got to keep all that open as far as how many different ways we can play him.” Continue reading

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UCLA to play in November’s Las Vegas Invitational

Fans who enjoyed Vegas during the Pac-12 Tournament won’t have to wait until March to visit again.

UCLA officially announced today that it will play in the 13th annual Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 28 and 29. The Orleans Arena will host the Bruins, Nevada, Northwestern and Missouri. UCLA also has a nonconference game scheduled against the Tigers.

The regional round will take place the weekend prior, with UCLA hosting two teams. Those matchups will be against Chattanooga, IUPUI, Morehead State or Gardner-Webb.

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Q&A: Former UCLA infielder Jermaine Curtis

For a little over a week, Jermaine Curtis got a taste of his dream. The former UCLA third baseman and All-Pac-10 honorable mention was called up to the St. Louis Cardinals on April 26, after the team placed Matt Adams on the 15-day disabled list.

The 25-year-old took just two at-bats until he was sent back down to Triple-A Memphis on Sunday, but expressed nothing but excitement during his first major-league stint. Curtis’ career hasn’t unfolded the way he imagined when he left UCLA early in 2008 as a fifth-round draft pick. He was ranked the No. 31 prospect in the organization, and was even demoted to Double-A a year ago.

I caught up with him over the weekend for a look at the life of a ballplayer on the edge of the majors and minors.

Q: What was it like finally getting called up?

It’s been amazing, seeing basically baseball heaven. Talking to future Hall of Famers such as Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday. I haven’t been able to play much, but I’ve learned a lot. It’s something I take to heart a lot. Continue reading

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Mike Moser to Oregon; Allerik Freeman to Baylor

A pair of former Bruins found new homes today.

Most notable in the Pac-12 landscape is Mike Moser, who reportedly committed to Oregon as a graduate transfer out of UNLV. The 6-foot-8 forward played less than five minutes per game at UCLA in 2009-10 before heading to Las Vegas. With the Runnin’ Rebels, he averaged 14 points and 10.5 rebounds as a sophomore before a disappointing junior year — one that saw his minutes reduced due to both injury and the role of star freshman Anthony Bennett.

Moser will graduate from UNLV and play immediately for the Ducks, who lost three seniors from their Pac-12 tournament-winning squad. He also considered Gonzaga and Washington.

Freshman guard Allerik Freeman, who signed a national letter of intent with UCLA in November, is heading to Baylor after being released from his commitment two weeks ago. Freeman was the highest-ranked uncommitted recruit after No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins.

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