UCLA coach Steve Alford recovering from hernia surgery

UCLA head coach Steve Alford is recovering from hernia surgery, and was not available for Tuesday’s media availability.

He underwent the operation on Monday, but is expected to coach the Bruins for Wednesday’s 8 p.m. tipoff against Washington at Pauley Pavilion.

“He’s been texting the team,” said senior guard Norman Powell. “We all talked to him before film yesterday. He was joking around about different things before surgery. It’s a lot of fun to see that he still has high spirits throughout the adversity that he’s facing.

“We just wish him a speedy recovery and for him to be back before the game tomorrow.”

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UCLA announces Tom Bradley as new defensive coordinator

UCLA has announced the hiring of former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley as the Bruins’ new defensive coordinator, officially ending a search the began almost three weeks ago.

“To bring a coach of Tom Bradley’s caliber to UCLA is very exciting,” head coach Jim Mora said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game, extensive experience, level of intensity and attention to detail all make him one of the best defensive teachers in college football.

“Combine that with the fact that he has strong national recruiting ties and is one of the most well respected coaches in the game — it all adds up to Tom being a tremendous addition to our staff.” Continue reading

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UCLA hires former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley

UCLA’s search for a defensive coordinator is over.

Former longtime Penn State assistant Tom Bradley will fill that position for the Bruins, ESPN confirmed this afternoon. The program has not yet made an official announcement.

Bradley’s status as the leading candidate for the UCLA opening surfaced last week. He is the Bruins’ third defensive coordinator in as many years, following Jeff Ulbrich — who became the Atlanta Falcons linebackers coach earlier this month — and Lou Spanos.

Bradley worked as West Virginia’s associated head coach last year, and also worked in broadcasting following his decades-long stint in State College. He led several top-10 defenses at Penn State as a coordinator from 2000 to 2011, and served as the team’s interim head coach after the dismissal of Joe Paterno.

Here is last week’s look at the longtime PSU assistant, including former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck’s strong endorsement of him regarding the Sandusky scandal.

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Arizona 57, UCLA 47: Norman Powell talks loss to Wildcats

After UCLA’s 57-47 loss at No. 7 Arizona on Saturday, the Bruins can no longer get to 20 regular-season wins — a mark that would have likely secured them a spot in March Madness. Asked about his team’s postseason chances, senior guard Norman Powell remained optimistic.

“It’s fuel to our fire,” he said. “Holding serve at home, and making a run in the (Pac-12) Tournament — that’s what’s going to lock us up getting back into the NCAA Tournament.”

Asked if that meant securing the conference’s automatic bid, Powell said: “Right now, we’re just focused on these three games.”

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Arizona 57, UCLA 47: Point guard Bryce Alford talks loss to Wildcats

UCLA lost at No. 7 Arizona, 57-47, but displayed some of the best defense it had all season. The Bruins held the Wildcats scoreless for more than six minutes at the start of each half, going out on 7-0 and 17-0 runs.

What was the difference?

“I think it’s just effort,” said point guard Bryce Alford. “Just playing balls to the wall the whole time. ASU, we kind of lacked in that area. Can’t really tell you why. I don’t really know. That’s inexcusable.

“Tonight, I thought we played as hard as we could. Each man, from top to bottom, I thought we played extremely hard.”

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At a glance: UCLA at No. 7 Arizona

UCLA (16-11, 8-6) at No. 7 Arizona (23-3, 11-2)
Saturday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m. PT, McKale Center
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Shannon Spake)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

Scouting report: Like it did a year ago, Arizona looks like the Pac-12′s best chance at the Final Four. The difference is that this edition of the Wildcats is even more balanced than the one that fell to Wisconsin in overtime of the Elite Eight — one that, along the way, went undefeated at home and spent eight straight weeks at No. 1.

After losing Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the NBA draft, UofA reloaded with five-star wing Stanley Johnson. The Mater Dei product has lived up to every bit of the hype, leading the team in scoring (14.5) and rebounds (6.7) and ranking second in assists (1.96) and steals (1.5). He also shoots an absurd 50.5 percent on 2-point jumpers, making 55 of 109; none of the Bruins’ starters hit more than 38.5 percent. The likely top-10 pick will be a nightmare matchup for UCLA, and is also the only person keeping UCLA’s Kevon Looney from winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

The Wildcats are flat out more talented than the Bruins. They have a veteran point guard in T.J. McConnell, a forward who can stretch the floor in Brandon Ashley, an athletic defender in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and a 7-foot center in Kaleb Tarczewski. Continue reading

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UCLA baseball to play USC in Dodgertown Classic

UCLA beat USC, 6-1, at the Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium in front of more than 14,000 fans on Sunday, February 28, 2010. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

UCLA beat USC, 6-1, at the Dodgertown Classic at Dodger Stadium in front of more than 14,000 fans on Sunday, February 28, 2010. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Tickets have gone on sale for the return of the Dodgertown Classic, which will feature UCLA vs. USC and Vanderbilt vs. TCU on Sunday, March 8.

The event is going back to Chavez Ravine after a two-year break, though it is billed simply as the “Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic” this year rather than by its old name. The Bruins and Trojans are scheduled to play at 3:30 p.m., following an 11:45 a.m. first pitch between the defending NCAA champion Commodores and the Horned Frogs. The UCLA-USC game will also be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.

“Our program is very excited to get the opportunity to play at Dodger Stadium,” UCLA coach John Savage said in a statement. “We thank the Dodgers organization for hosting a great day of college baseball and we are looking forward to having our fans come out and support the Bruins.” Continue reading

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Hundley, Odighizuwa stand out with NFL combine measurements

UCLA’s pro prospects have all landed in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. Although most of the biggest drills are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday — including quarterback workouts tomorrow — most of the former Bruins have been measured by now.

Here’s a quick look.

QB Brett Hundley — 6’3″, 32 1/8″ arms, 226 pounds, 10 1/2″ hands
Hundley’s physicals were never really questioned in terms of his draft profile, but he didn’t hurt himself by measuring out with the biggest hands of any quarterback.

LB Eric Kendricks — 6’0″, 232 pounds, 31″ arms, 9 5/8″ hands
The reigning Butkus Award winner has never blown anyone with his physical gifts, and his measurements at the combine didn’t pop out in any way. Of note: He’s very physically similar to USC’s Hayes Pullard, who has the same height and hand size but is eight pounds heavier and slightly longer (31 1/4″ arms).

DT Ellis McCarthy — 6’5″, 338 pounds, 34 1/8″ arms, 9 7/8″ hands
McCarthy was heavier than any other defensive lineman except Washington’s Danny Shelton, who edged him by a pound. The 6-foot-2 Shelton is projected as a first-round pick.

DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa — 6’3″, 267 pounds, 33 3/4″ arms, 11″ hands
His hands actually measured an eighth of an inch shorter than they did at the Senior Bowl last month, but that still ties him for first among defensive linemen with Indiana’s Bobby Richardson and Iowa’s Carl Davis.

Anthony Jefferson will be measured along with other defensive backs on Saturday.

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How would Tom Bradley fit as UCLA’s defensive coordinator?

After two weeks, UCLA appears to be close to finding a new defensive coordinator.

Former longtime Penn State assistant Tom Bradley, who was named AP Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2005, is close to filling that role for the Bruins. Once finalized, he will become UCLA’s third defensive coordinator in as many years, following Jeff Ulbrich and Lou Spanos — who left to coach linebackers for the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans, respectively.

Bradley’s status as a leading finalist was first reported by Bruin Report Online last night, and confirmed again by FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman this morning.

The Bruins had actually “sniffed around” Bradley a year ago, according to ESPN, but he opted to spend a season as West Virginia’s associate head coach. He also helped coach defensive linemen.

Here’s a closer look at the veteran college assistant.

Defensive credentials

Bradley’s resume is about as impressive as any UCLA could have hoped for in a candidate. He was one of the key architects in making Penn State into “Linebacker U” — a title that the Bruins started tossing around recently. In 2002, his third season as defensive coordinator, Bradley turned the Nittany Lions into the No. 11 defense in college football. From 2004 to 2009, they never fell out of the top 10. Continue reading

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UCLA gets beaten in the paint, on the boards in loss at Arizona State

UCLA looked like it had a chance at Arizona State, Isaac Hamilton pulling up on the right wing for what could have been a game-winning, buzzer 3-pointer. But even that was likely a mirage — just another ill-conceived play in a 68-66 loss, one that delivered a gut punch to the Bruins’ NCAA Tournament hopes.

Hamilton’s shot wasn’t reviewed, since all it drew was back iron and the sighs of UCLA fans hopeful for a late-season surge. On the replay, however, the sophomore’s fingertips looked like they were still on the ball as the backboard lit up red. With 6.8 seconds left, UCLA likely hadn’t created a viable last shot.

The Bruin offense had looked disjointed for much of the second period, missing 11 of its first 14 shots after the break to lose what had been a 36-32 halftime lead.

Norman Powell led the team with 16 points, but didn’t score a second-half point until the final 92 seconds. Big man Tony Parker was a non-factor, fouling out with 9:42 left on the game clock; he finished with just two points and one rebound, his worst showing of the year.

But what really sank the Bruins was lackluster rebounding and indifferent defense. Arizona State dominated them on the boards, 39-27, and sank an array of shots at close range. The Sun Devils shot 54.5 percent on 2-point attempts, and scored 36 points in the paint — 14 more than UCLA. Continue reading

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