A head’s up

Hey all,

Miguel Melendez will be helping out the Los Angeles Newspaper Group and covering UCLA football practice in San Bernardino. I have no doubt his coverage will be excellent. Some big changes happening at the Daily News/LANG, and I’ll have more thorough information soon, but please treat Miguel with the kindness he deserves. You’re going to enjoy his work.

Thanks!

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Parker sidelined with strained hamstring

UCLA freshman Tony Parker will miss two-to-four weeks after suffering a strained left hamstring this week, the school announced today.

His status for the team’s trip to China is now in doubt as the team leaves on Aug. 21, returning Aug. 29. This leaves him the third of UCLA’s vaunted freshman class to be plagued by offseason injuries, as Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad battled thumb and ankle injuries, respectively.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

UCLA heads to San Bernardino to find heart, soul

Jim Mora is clearly uncomfortable.

He is given two choices: Does he think he has his quarterback and just needs to be convinced early in UCLA’s fall camp or is he still looking for who it is?

He squirms, he deflects, he pauses. He laughs nervously. He stews.

He is taking his team to the campus of Cal State San Bernardino for what is expected to be a grueling – but not too grueling – two weeks and the biggest question is not whether they will return, but whether they return with a quarterback.

“You made it very difficult on me with that question,” Mora said. “I would say this, the first is closer to the truth, that I have a feeling but still need to be convinced. I’m going to be completely candid. That’s the truth.”

Brett Hundley, the redshirt freshman, with the boundless athleticism and the energy of a toddler kangaroo? Not telling.

Richard Brehaut, the senior gunning for his first solo shot, claiming the best arm in the group? Giving nothing away.

Kevin Prince, the embattled veteran who’s won the job three times and praying for a fourth? Not a clue.

Mora said before spring camp that he wanted to find his quarterback in April. It didn’t happen. The three main competitors for the job all improved but none distanced himself from the pack. Mora said it would be a gut feeling, that he’d just know. He now says, “That might have been premature.” He then set a target date for the unveiling of his quarterback for the middle of August, but now he admits even that is fluid.

Mora is playing it close to the vest because he knows the importance of the answer – UCLA hasn’t had an all-conference quarterback since 2005. He discusses it with everyone close to him. His coaches, his friends, even his father, long-time NFL head coach Jim E. Mora. He gives away subtle hints, talking about trajectory, that if two guys are tied today, where might they be by Week 5?

“It’s building,” Mora said of the confidence of his choice. “It’s building. It’s building with our staff, people I trust, one of them being my dad.”

So UCLA is going to San Bernardino to find the heart of its offense and the soul of the rest of the team.

The Bruins were a fractured bunch in 2011, finishing 6-8, embarrassing losses piling up like discarded trash, prone to infighting and bickering, sideways glances and slumped shoulders. Mora stresses that this fall camp will be about healing old wounds, not creating new ones. He bristles at the “Junction Boys” comparison, says that this camp is not about the 100-degree heat, then adds, “although I don’t mind the heat.”

“That’s where it starts to really galvanize,” Mora said of fall camp. “It all really sucks together in that time. You’re under an immense amount of pressure. The season is about to start, the game is there, you can’t postpone it. It’s just important for us to be together. I’m not saying we have to do this every year, I’m just saying this year is important for this team to be a little isolated from the distractions.”

Added senior running back Johnathan Franklin: “It’s great for us to develop as a team and another way for us to gain accountability with each other, no distractions, I think it’s great for our team and I think it’s going to help us out down the road.”
Mora laid it out plainly at Pac-12 Media Day: No girlfriends, no friends, no family.

“It gives us a chance to depend on each other for everything,” Mora said. “If there’s going to be a conversation, that conversation is going to be with a teammate or a coach. If I’m going to have a conversation, it’s going to be with a player or a coach. If we’re doing something, we’re going to do it together. We’re going to work hard together, laugh together, have fun together, team-building together, we’re going to get to know each other.

“And what’s going to happen is that when there are times during the season when you really need that guy and he really needs you, you can count each other because you know each other.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

UCLA gets big OL commitment

Orange Lutheran’s John Lopez, rated the No. 6 offensive guard in the country by Rivals and No. 31 by Scout.com, verbally committed to UCLA on Wednesday night.

Lopez becomes the Bruins’ 11th verbal commitment and the fourth on what’s becoming a very good offensive line class, shaping up to be the program’s best in a long time. With Sean Dowling, Erik Bunte and Christian Morris in the fold, UCLA looks to be stocking up, and there is room for more.

Lopez has offers from most of the Pac-12 but has been a Bruin target for a long time, and Adrian Klemm sealed the deal.

Here’s some video

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Powell injures foot

A few days ago, UCLA sophomore guard Norman Powell posted on Facebook that he’d broken his foot, possibly jeopardizing the beginning of his season.

Luckily for the Bruins, it’s not quite so bad.

A UCLA spokesman said that Powell just suffered a rolled ankle, resulting in a sprain, and he is considered day-to-day.

That’s good news for a team that will rely on his perimeter defense next year.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

UCLA hoops schedule changes

From UCLA:

Game dates have changed for six UCLA men’s basketball contests, including the Bruins’ two games against crosstown rival USC, as announced by the Pac-12 Conference on Thursday.

The schedule changes were approved by the conference’s athletic directors earlier this week after consultation between the conference office and television partners.

The Bruins’ home game against the Trojans will be played Wednesday, Jan. 30 (moved from Saturday, Feb. 2). UCLA will play at USC’s Galen Center on Sunday, Feb. 24 (moved from Saturday, Feb. 23).

UCLA’s opponents on the trip to the San Francisco Bay Area have flipped. The Bruins will play at California on Thursday, Feb. 14 and will continue the road trip at Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 16.

UCLA will host Arizona State on Wednesday, Feb. 27 (moved from Thursday, Feb. 28) and will play at Washington State on Wednesday, March 5 (moved from Thursday, March 6).

In addition, the 2012 Legends Classic matchups at Barclays Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.) were revealed Thursday morning. UCLA will face Georgetown on Monday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. (PT)/8 p.m. (ET). The Bruins will take on either Georgia or Indiana in the consolation or championship game on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at Barclays Center.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

UCLA news and notes from Pac-12 Media Day

Some of the more relative notes from today:

* UCLA head coach Jim Mora said incoming freshman defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy has had a knee issue flare up and he required arthroscopic surgery on his left meniscus on Friday. Mora said he’d miss the first part of training camp, give or take a couple weeks.

* The Bruins are going after some Penn State players, though Mora could not name specifics. Some Nittany Lions have reached out with interested in UCLA. As this is a very fluid situation, Mora said he’s not sure what the timeline on any movement could be.

* Mora said that linebacker Mike Orloff (knee) has taken a medical retirement and confirmed that Wesley Flowers, Joe Roberts, Jared Koster and Anthony Thompson were no longer with the program. He also confirmed the grayshirts of both Lacy Westbrook – who, by the way, is out of the hospital and recovering from a recent health scare – and Eli Ankou.

* I asked Mora about the quarterback situation, does he know the guy and just needs to be convinced or he still needs to see more from all of them, and he answered pretty specifically that it’s more A than B. He has his guy.

* Also, Mora made it pretty clear that Dietrich Riley would not be returning this year, despite recent positive Tweets.

* Player movement notes: Dalton Hilliard is on defense and appears to be staying there, as does Anthony Barr, though Mora wants to see a lot from him.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email