Questions today, answers Monday. Thanks.
Helped significantly by a baseball championship, UCLA men’s athletics secured its first-ever Capital One Cup yesterday.
Awarded annually to the top men’s and women’s Division I programs in the country, the prize comes with $200,000 worth of scholarships and will be presented at the ESPY Awards on July 17. The Bruin men scored 92 points to place ahead of Indiana and Texas A&M (88 points each), Florida (86) and Duke (82). The baseball title secured 60 points.
UCLA also placed third in the Director’s Cup, which Stanford won for the 19th consecutive season. The Bruins now have back-to-back third-place finishes, and have landed in the top-five in eight of the past 10 years.
Per his contract, athletic director Dan Guerrero will receive a $30,000 bonus for the Bruins’ top-10 placement in the Director’s Cup.
LOS ANGELES — Eric Karros stood in the middle of Jackie Robinson Stadium, just feet away from the national championship trophy. Once a player himself, the former Bruin and Dodger had waited years for this moment.
He gestured toward UCLA head coach John Savage, the man who had brought the Bruins to the mountaintop, guiding them through an undefeated postseason.
“I know a lot of schools will come courting, but gosh darn it, I hope you stay,” Karros said Thursday afternoon. The 800-some fans sitting in the stands likely thought the same.
The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that USC — which finished 20-36 — had interest in Savage, who won the 1998 title there as a pitching coach. Considering UCLA’s now-official powerhouse status, that’s somewhat akin to a teenage boy having interest in Kate Upton. Continue reading
In one of most unpredictable NBA drafts ever, Shabazz Muhammad stuck close to his spot in most mock drafts.
The Utah Jazz drafted the former UCLA standout at No. 14 and traded him to Minnesota. The Timberwolves had agreed to swap former Michigan point guard Trey Burke, the No. 8 pick, for the 14th and 21st picks.
The Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year’s fall to the bottom of the lottery was a disappointment when compared to the hype he generated on the prep and AAU circuits.
Among the names that went before Muhammad: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk. Right after Muhammad was selected, the Milwaukee Bucks picked Giannis Antetokounmpo — the first Greek player drafted since 2000.
“I think he’s actually worth a higher pick than this,” ESPN announcer Jay Bilas said of Muhammad. “When you take the risk-reward decision, this is a good spot for him.” Continue reading
Marc Manfro had already risked his life before as an NYPD officer, inhaling toxic air for months guarding the post-9/11 World Trade Center site and helping with recovery efforts.
Now working as a security consultant, his sense of duty hasn’t wavered. On his way to the beach Sunday morning, Manfro — the father of UCLA running back Steve Manfro — turned from the 405 onto the 10-West and saw a woman standing in the middle of the freeway facing 70 mile-per-hour traffic. Continue reading
Offensive lineman Dominick Jackson, regarded as one of the top JUCO prospects in the country, has decided to go back on his verbal commitment to UCLA made earlier this month, according to Rivals.com. The 6-foot-7, four-star guard will instead play at Alabama.
He told Rivals’ Andrew Bone that he made the decision despite not having yet visited the Crimson Tide: “(Offensive line) coach (Mario) Cristobal never stopped recruiting me. He really showed me how interested Alabama was in me after I committed.”
» John Savage’s two championship teams finished with identical 49-17 records. He earned his first ring as a USC pitching coach in 1998, in a 21-14 victory over Arizona State that saw the teams combine for eight home runs.
“I looked at the record yesterday, and I had a good feeling we were going to end up with the same amount of wins, the same amount of losses,” Savage said after beating Mississippi State 8-0 Tuesday night, earning his first as UCLA’s head coach. “I knew the game wasn’t going to be 21-14, thank God.”
Sixty-two home runs were hit during the 1998 CWS. This year’s saw just three. His team is built as a polar opposite to those “Gorilla Ball” squads, one that squeezes in just enough offense to complement defense and pitching. The Bruins took the bumpier road and sped along untouched, downing No. 5 seed Fullerton, No. 4 seed LSU and No. 1 seed UNC through the postseason.
“I don’t think any of the experts thought we would be here at this stage, and we did it the right way,” Savage said. “We played baseball.”
» UCLA’s pitchers combined for a 0.80 ERA in the College World Series, the lowest mark in the aluminum bat era (since 1974). The Bruins were also the first team to ever run through Omaha without allowing more than one run in any game.
The superlative defense, marked by the play of all-tournament shortstop Pat Valaika, helped hold opponents to 1-27 with runners in scoring position. Continue reading
Catcher: Brian Holberton, North Carolina
First base: Wes Rea, Mississippi State
Second base: Brett Pirtle, Mississippi State
Third base: Colin Moran, North Carolina
Shortstop: Pat Valaika, UCLA
Outfield: Michael Conforto, Oregon State
Outfield: Eric Filia, UCLA
Outfield: Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State
DH: Trey Porter, Mississippi State
Pitcher: Adam Plutko, UCLA
Pitcher: Nick Vander Tuig, UCLA
Most Outstanding Player: Adam Plutko UCLA
Votes were cast by the present media. Ballots were filed by the eighth inning of the final game.
Shortly after John Savage raised his first championship trophy as a head coach, he thanked some of the many people who helped him along the way:
I couldn’t do it without my wife Lisa. She’s a coach’s wife. She grew up with Coach (Chris) Ault, who’s a Hall of Fame coach at the University of Nevada. My four kids. I spend a lot of time away from them. They know I’m dedicated to my job. I love them so much. This is for my dad, who passed away in August 2010. He didn’t see us win a national championship.
This is for Jack Gifford, who also passed away, who’s a UCLA famous alumni. This is for my dad, this is for Jack, this is for my entire family. …
I would never be here without Coach (Mike) Gillespie and Coach (Gary) Powers, who I started with at Nevada. I owe everything to them.
For more on Savage’s path to UCLA and an eventual national title, here’s my feature from earlier this month.