UCLA finished fourth in the Super Six final last night, ending a season beset by injuries. Senior Vanessa Zamarripa, ranked No. 1 in vault, landed on her knees to end the Bruins’ night, but the team couldn’t have won its seventh title even if she had scored a perfect 10. (Full story here.)
“Emotionally, physically, mentally, we are spent,” coach Valorie Kondos Field said. “We left it all on the floor. As a coach, I could not ask for more from them.”
Florida, coached by former UCLA All-American Rhonda Faehn, won its first national title despite two falls off the beam to open the day. Oklahoma placed second, and two-time defending champion Alabama finished third.
The rising redshirt sophomore said he did the same last spring and summer, but has also enlisted some teammates to join him in staying off those sites. Freshman Eldridge Massington, an early enrollee, has already broken the pact. Continue reading →
Jim Mora and his wife, Shannon announced Saturday the Southern California launch of their Count on Me Family Foundation, which helps children who are either mentally/physically challenged, at risk, or from low socioeconomic backgrounds. For more information, click through to the official website.
Shannon said the Celebrity Golf Classic, the foundation’s main fundraiser, was already sold out. It will be held at the Riviera Country Club on May 20, featuring names such as Terry Bradshaw, Warren Sapp and Joel McHale.
Dozens of kids were also out at Saturday’s UCLA football practice as part of the launch, which was adorable to see. A little girl even got Anthony Barr to autograph a picture of him ending Matt Barkley’s USC career.
The UCLA gymnastics team will end its season this weekend at Pauley Pavilion, which is hosting its first national title event since its renovation.
To clinch the school’s 109th national championship, the sixth-seeded Bruins will first have to get out of their semifinal round at 6 p.m. (You can watch live online at NCAA.com.) If they can score in the top three of a loaded field that includes second-seeded Oklahoma and third-seeded Alabama, they’ll earn a spot in Saturday’s Super Six for a shot at their seventh title.
UCLA has little too lose after navigating an injury-riddled campaign. The team lost 2008 Olympic silver medalist Sam Peszek (Achilles) and promising freshman Christine Peng-Peng Lee (knee) before the season began, and then former world champion Mattie Larson (knee) in March.
“At this point, we just feel like it’s really natural and everything’s fun,” junior Olivia Courtney said, adding that this year’s feels like a more cohesive team. “It’s super exciting to have NCAAs hosted at Pauley. It’s just a really great feeling. Everyone’s excited. The adrenaline’s there.”
This weekend may also mark the end of senior Vanessa Zamarripa’s gymnastics career. (Story here.) The two-time Pac-12 Gymnast of the Year, ranked No. 1 in all-around and vault, is undecided about whether or not she will continue after successfully recovering from a torn Achilles two years ago.
Adrian Klemm didn’t mince words. What took place Thursday morning was the worst offensive line practice the position coach has seen at UCLA.
Done without pads due to the Bruins’ increasing injury count, the sloppy session neared closing time with a brutal sequence of penalties, dropped balls and even a safety.
Klemm has established himself as one of the nation’s elite recruiters, but reinforcements won’t arrive until fall. Right now, an offensive line that allowed 52 sacks last season still doesn’t have any stable anchors besides center Jake Brendel and All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo. Continue reading →
Redshirt sophomore Brandon Tuliaupupu’s freak, non-contact injury at the end of UCLA’s Wednesday practice turned out to be a torn ACL — one that will most likely sideline him until 2014.
Tuliaupupu only made three tackles last season, but was getting increased reps through spring camp.
“It’s really unfortunate,” head coach Jim Mora said. “Boy, he was doing really a good job for us too. The competition between him and (Seali’i) Epenesa was outstanding.”
Epenesa is now the only nose tackle available in spring camp, although defensive end Eli Ankou was tried there on Thursday. Sophomore Ellis McCarthy is moving there once he returns from post-surgery rehab on his knee. Incoming freshman Kenneth Clark will also figure prominently in the depth chart come fall.
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Early enrollee Kylie Fitts talks about adjusting to UCLA’s spring practices, his favorite part about college life, and missing his high school prom. The freshman sprained his ankle last week, but is out of his boot and hopes to be back in full for Thursday’s session.
Brandon Tuliaupupu hurt his left knee on the last play of UCLA’s Wednesday practice, crumpling to the turf in an apparent freak, non-contact injury.
The diagnosis isn’t clear yet, but Tuliaupupu was driven off Spaulding Field in a cart.
“It didn’t look good,” head coach Jim Mora said.
Added linebacker Anthony Barr: “Those are the scariest ones, when nobody’s around. He was just running and he kind of falls. We hope for the best.”
Tuliaupupu only had three tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2012, but his exit leaves the Bruins hurting for depth on the defensive line. Senior Owamagbe Odighizuwa and sophomore Ellis McCarthy are also out for spring as they rehab from surgery.
Of the more than 10,000 men playing major college football, none have yet come out as gay. UCLA football coach Jim Mora did his part to try and pave the way, appearing in the school’s “You Can Play” video this week.
Mora shows up at 0:20, while star quarterback Brett Hundley and defensive back Librado Barocio join in at 1:35. Women’s gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field and women’s basketball coach Cori Close open the video, which also features athletes from numerous other UCLA teams. Continue reading →
In perhaps the least surprising announcement of 2013, UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad officially declared for the NBA Draft today.
“I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin,” Muhammad said in a statement through the school. “From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level.”
The announcement comes more than a month after former head coach Ben Howland said that he fully expected the freshman, once ranked the No. 1 recruit in the country, to go pro after one season.
“That was his last game at Pauley Pavilion, no doubt about it,” he said March 2 after a 74-69 win over Arizona. Howland was fired on March 24.
Muhammad is projected to go in the top 10 of the June 27 draft, signaling the end of a scrutinized one-and-done campaign that began with a three-game NCAA suspension. Throughout the winter, the Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year was also criticized for everything from wearing a Gucci backpack to not celebrating teammate Larry Drew II’s game-winner against Washington.
Nonetheless, he led the team with 17.9 points per game and helped the Bruins (25-10) to a Pac-12 regular-season title. UCLA lost to Oregon in the conference tournament final, and then to Minnesota in the NCAA tournament’s round of 64.