UCLA baseball’s first-ever College World Series title was named the top local sports moment of 2013 tonight, beating out a pair of Bruin football mentions for the honor at the L.A. Sports Awards.
Head coach John Savage led the baseball team to an unlikely championship run, sweeping through all ten postseason games and outscoring Mississippi State, 11-1, in the two final games.
The football team earned two spots on the top-ten list, which was based on online fan voting as well as a media panel. UCLA’s 35-14 win at USC, its first at the Coliseum since 1997, earned fifth place. Linebacker/running back Myles Jack took the next spot by himself for becoming the first player to win both Pac-12 Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
– Steve Alford is doing something right at halftime.
UCLA flipped the switch again in Saturday’s 80-66 win over Utah, one that featured a 12-0 run to start the second half. The trend has been most apparent in their last five games — with the Bruins outshooting opponents 52.9 percent to 40.6 percent after the break — but holds across a larger sample size too.
In second halves of its Pac-12 schedule, UCLA is shooting 48.0 percent from the field while allowing 41.6 percent.
“That’s where we make our runs,” point guard Kyle Anderson said. “Coach told us about the old Lakers teams, the old Bulls teams — the third quarter in the NBA is where the best teams are normally the best teams.”
The Bruins need to limit the slow starts that have plagued them as of late, but they’ve at least proven themselves capable of overcoming early rough patches.
– Has the defense improved? UCLA is ranked sixth in conference in field goal percentage defense, up slightly from eighth a year ago, but that’s due more to the competition: the number is only down half a percent to 42.0. Continue reading →
After winning its first national championship, UCLA will open its 2014 season with arguably the thinnest infield of coach John Savage’s tenure.
All-conference honorable mention Kevin Kramer could soon undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, leaving the Bruins with just two returning starters along the base paths: catcher Shane Zeile and first baseman Pat Gallagher. UCLA ranked second in the Pac-12 in fielding last year (.980), but lost shortstop Pat Valaika — the team’s first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year — and Cody Regis, a 39-game starter at second base.
After starting all 66 games at third base during the Bruins’ 2013 title run, Kramer had been slated to move to shortstop. The team will make a decision on his possible surgery by next Monday. He and Savage had discussed using him exclusively as a designated hitter, but later ruled out that plan.
Infielder Kevin Williams is also battling a shoulder injury, and will be sidelined until mid-March. Continue reading →
UCLA announced Tuesday that it will appeal a ruling that forces its baseball team out of Jackie Robinson Stadium. U.S. District judge S. James Otero ruled this August that the Department of Veterans Affairs had misused its West Los Angeles campus by leasing land to various tenants, including the Bruins’ national championship team.
The land was deeded in 1888 for providing a home for disabled veterans. By not using it to provide health care for veterans, Otero’s decision stated, Veterans Affairs is in violation of federal law. The ACLU sued VA in June 2011 on behalf of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries.
In addition to Jackie Robinson Stadium, parts of the 387-acre property are leased out to 10 other companies and businesses, including the Brentwood School, a hotel laundry and film studio storage lot. Continue reading →
After winning UCLA baseball’s first-ever national championship, head coach John Savage was rewarded with a contract extension that pays him up to $1.025 million annually, plus a $100,000 signing bonus. His previous contract maxed out at $501,000.
The UC regents officially approved the contract on Sept. 18. USC reportedly offered Savage over $1 million after he won the College World Series in June.
The terms make Savage, who also won multiple national coach of the year honors this summer, among the highest-paid college baseball coaches in the country. LSU’s Paul Mainieri earns $750,000 in annual guaranteed salary.
Q: How many points will UCLA need to beat Nebraska? After seeing Nebraska surrender 600 yds to Wyoming, should we feel a lot better heading into that game? Brett Hundley and our offense can give us a shot against anybody correct?
A: I’d give Nebraska some benefit of the doubt for early-season rust, but UCLA looks pretty good for that game. You’re right: Brett Hundley and company have the firepower to hang with most teams. Taylor Martinez will give the Bruins trouble with QB runs, though they’ll have a bye week to prep for that. It’ll be more about how much UCLA can limit him rather than how many points the team can put up.
Q: Do you see any possibility in changes to the depth chart for running backs? Steve Manfro has alligator arms. Malcolm Jones is on a mission. I believe he should eventually take the No. 2 back behind Jordon James.
A: The depth chart looks pretty fluid after James, so there’s a chance for anybody to carve out a more significant secondary role. I’m not ready to give Jones the edge there, however; he looked good, but he also came in late against a Nevada defense that looked gassed.
» Stanford is the only FBS school that employs African-Americans as athletic director, football head coach and men’s basketball head coach. Is that a big deal? David Shaw: “I think it is a story that it’s not a big story. That’s a great story!” Continue reading →
John Savage took UCLA baseball further than anyone before him. The Bruins made sure he didn’t leave.
The two-time National Coach of the Year has often stated his desire to stay in Westwood. After winning the program’s first-ever title and turning down a reported million-dollar offer from USC, he is locked in until 2025 — his contract extension approved today by the UC Regents.
“I couldn’t be happier about their commitment, not only to me, but to the baseball program,” Savage said.
The 48-year-old coach, who just completed his ninth season, said improvements to Jackie Robinson Stadium were a significant part of the negotiation.
Most pressing is the need for an adjoining half-infield laid with turf. The addition would allow the Bruins to practice on the surface without having to practice on the football team’s Spaulding Field.
Savage hopes construction will begin as soon as this summer. Other possible facility additions include a new clubhouse, press box, restrooms and concessions. Continue reading →