UCLA: Stanford

Baseball: Gerrit Cole absorbs fourth loss

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
10:02
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Top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole had his worst start of the year Thursday night, surrendering a season-high six runs and nine hits as the UCLA baseball team dropped its series opener, 7-4, at Stanford.

Cole, known as a power pitcher with a live arm, gave up two home runs. He had only one strikeout in 6 1/3 innings.

The 20th-ranked Bruins (20-13, 9-4 Pac-10) battled back from a 3-0 deficit and Cody Regis extended his hitting streak to 14 games, but Stanford (18-12, 4-6) added a run in the sixth before chasing Cole (4-4) in the seventh.

UCLA fell into a three-way tie for second place with Arizona State and California. Oregon State, which visits Jackie Robinson Stadium next weekend, leads the way with a 9-1 conference mark.

UCLA and Stanford resume the series Friday at 5:30 p.m. PT, with Trevor Bauer (7-1, 1.47 ERA) taking the hill for the Bruins and Jordan Pries (4-3, 3.26) going for the Cardinal.

Basketball: UCLA women run out of steam

March, 12, 2011
3/12/11
3:42
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Nikki Caldwell knew it was coming.

She knew top-seeded Stanford, with all its weapons, couldn't stay down for long. UCLA had the energy, the intensity and even the double-digit lead. It appeared the Bruins would finally knock off their toughest competitor. They just didn't have enough, as second-ranked Stanford avoided the upset and captured its eight Pac-10 tournament championship in 10 years, 65-44, at Staples Center.

The second-seeded Bruins led by 11 early in the second half and by six with under 10 minutes left, but the Cardinal (29-2) finished on a 24-9 run to cut down the nets. Ninth-ranked UCLA (27-4) lost to Stanford for the third time this season.

"This group did an amazing job, pretty much, for 32 minutes," Caldwell said. "This group is tough and resilient, but we couldn't go deep into our bench tonight and I think that hurt us a bit. When you're playing a team like Stanford, who has so many weapons -- their ability to shoot from the perimeter, their ability to score in the paint -- you can't give them both. You've got to be able to take one of them away."

All things clicked in the first half. The Bruins took away Stanford's inside game, outscoring the Cardinal 16-8 in the paint. UCLA was solid in transition, capitalizing with 14 points off turnovers while Stanford had none. The Bruins went into the break on a 21-5 run that gave them a 30-21 lead after trailing by as many as seven.

"We always love a team that gives us a good challenge," said Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike, the tournament's most outstanding player for the second straight year. "They were taking the ball out of our hands. We just needed to figure out what we had to do."

Nnemkadi had the answer, scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds in the second half. Stanford's Toni Kokenis had 17 points off the bench. All but two of UCLA's points came from the starting five -- Doreena Campbell had 16 and Darxia Morris and Markel Walker each had 12. The Bruins had been 19-0 this season when three players scored in double figures.

"This was a great game," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "I just want to first of all congratulate UCLA for a great season. They had us on the ropes and, you know, we had to really battle to come back."

VanDerveer, whose team will likely receive a No. 1 seeding when the bracket for the women's NCAA tournament is released Monday, later added that she says she believes UCLA deserves a No. 2 seeding.

Basketball: Defense gets Bruins into title game

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
7:29
PM PT


LOS ANGELES -- Rust? What rust?

The second-seeded UCLA women's basketball team showed little signs of it Friday afternoon, beating California 63-50 in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals at Staples Center. By finishing in second place in the conference standings, UCLA had been rewarded with a free pass through the first two rounds. It had been a week since the Bruins played competitively.

It didn't look that way, though.

"Our mindset was to make sure that we came into the game with great intensity," coach Nikki Caldwell said. "They understand that we have to do it on the defensive end. That's who we are and that's how we get our transition game going. That's how we get easy looks, that's how we turn people over. To me, that's a fun way to play this game."

Winning, of course, is fun. And UCLA has done plenty of it this season, improving to 27-3 overall and 15-1 away from Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins have won 12 of 13, with the lone loss coming to their next opponent, second-ranked Stanford. The title game is set to tip off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

UCLA raced out to an 11-1 lead and never looked back, leading by as many as 23 early in the second half. Atonye Nyingifa led the Bruins with 17 points and nine rebounds. Darxia Morris had 14, Doreena Campbell had 12. UCLA improved to 19-0 this season when three players score in double figures.

"For me, personally, this is it," said Campbell, a senior. "We're going to the end now and every game counts, you know. Every game is that one last game that you'll remember. Why not put it on the line?"

UCLA, ranked No. 9 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, figures to receive a good seeding in the NCAA tournament, win or lose Saturday against the Cardinal.

"I just hope that they continue to play as a unit," Caldwell said, "and we'll see how far that takes us."
Schedule of game for this week's Pac-10 Tournament at Staples Center:
Game 1 -- Wednesday: No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Oregon State , 6 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 2 -- Wednesday: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 Arizona State, 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 3 -- Thursday: No. 4 USC vs. No. 5 California, Noon TV: FSN
Game 4 -- Thursday: No. 1 Arizona vs. Game 1 winner, 2:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 5 -- Thursday No. 2 UCLA vs. Game 2 winner , 6 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 6 -- Thursday: No. 3 Washington vs. No. 6 Washington State, 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 7 -- Friday: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 winner 6, p.m. TV: FSN
Game 8 -- Friday: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 winner , 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Final -- Saturday: Pac-10 Tournament Championship, 3 p.m.. TV: CBS

Basketball: UCLA falls to Stanford again

February, 20, 2011
2/20/11
2:59
PM PT
The UCLA women's basketball team simply ran out of steam.

It had been exactly a month since the Bruins' 26-point loss at Stanford. After the first half Sunday afternoon, redemption seemed like a realistic possibility. Instead, No. 9 UCLA (22-3, 12-2 Pac-10) had to settle for a moral boost, cutting Stanford's margin of victory by 12 points in a 67-53 loss at Pauley Pavilion.

Two of the Bruins' three losses this season have come to No. 3 Stanford (24-2, 15-0). Perhaps the third time will be the charm -- UCLA and Stanford are expected to meet again in the final round of next month's Pac-10 Tournament at Staples Center.

Stanford proved to be too big inside, even without top forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike, who sat out with an ankle injury. The Bruins couldn't contain younger sister Chiney Ogwumike, who had 18 points and 15 rebounds to help the Cardinal pull away from a 28-28 tie at the break.

Despite the loss, UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell will surely look at the positives. The Bruins might have narrowed the gap a bit. The battle of the boards went 44-27 in favor of Stanford last month, but UCLA cut that to 35-32 on Sunday. The Bruins also took care of the ball, improving on turnovers from 27 last time to 13 Sunday.

Senior guard Darxia Morris led UCLA with 14 points, but only three of those came in the second half.

"They're real tough," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said on a postgame television interview. "They're going to do real well in the NCAA tournament."

Women's basketball weekend roundup

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
9:00
AM PT
Here's a brief look at the Bruins' latest weekend:

Thursday, Jan. 20: No. 4 Stanford 64, No. 8 UCLA 38

The Cardinal set the tone in the paint and pulled away thanks to a 44-27 edge in rebounds. Stanford's Kayla Pedersen had 18 points down low, while Jasmine Dixon (12 points) was the only UCLA player to score in double figures. The Bruins were held to 29.4 percent shooting (15-for-51).

Saturday, Jan. 22: No. 8 UCLA 65, California 56

Darxia Morris scored a career-high 22 points and Atonye Nyingifa sank four free throws in crunch time to help the Bruins bounce back from their second loss of the season. Upset-minded Cal trailed by four with less than a minute to play.

Up next: UCLA hosts the Arizona schools this weekend, beginning with Arizona State (12-5) on Thursday night. The Bruins play Arizona (13-5) Saturday afternoon.

Deep Three: Bruins wake up in time

January, 22, 2011
1/22/11
3:37
PM PT
We go beyond the arc following UCLA's 68-57 win against Stanford on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion:

1FIRST THINGS FIRST

Perhaps the Bruins needed a bit more time to finish counting sheep. Lazeric Jones said an assistant coach went around knocking on players' doors before 8 a.m. -- a full three hours before the 11 a.m. start time.

"I didn't like it too well," Jones said as he smirked.

And it showed early with Stanford racing out to an 8-0 lead. The Cardinal pulled down five offensive rebounds in the first four minutes, taking advantage of Joshua Smith's absence down low. While Stanford hustled and scrambled after loose balls, UCLA sleepwalked, falling behind by 14 and forcing coach Ben Howland to use three of his timeouts.

"I can't tell you what I really thought," Howland said. "Well, I can't say it out loud."

The Bruins went 2-for-12 to start before going on a 16-2 spurt to tie it at 24-24.

"We just didn't have the energy," Tyler Honeycutt said. "As the game went on, we got stops and we got buckets."

2SECURING THE PERIMETER

Cancel the optometrist appointment. Quit trying to adjust the television signal.

Your vision isn't fooling you -- Malcolm Lee's jump shot has taken shape. Four of the junior guard's six makes were from at least 16 feet, including two corner treys that might have brought back memories of sharpshooter Arron Afflalo (2004-07).

"Last year when he released (the ball), his arm wouldn't go all the way through (the motion)," Howland said. "He's locking his elbow now in his shot because he's moved it higher up with a higher elbow. He's finishing higher and going up and down straight. He still gets sped up once in a while and he's working on that, but he played great today. I couldn't be happier about Malcolm's play."

Lee scored a game-high 23 points and was 9-for-10 on free throws. He is averaging a career-best 12.8 points and has raised his three-point percentage, from 25.2 last season to 32.5 this season.

"He's playing 39 minutes and not cramping," Howland said. "So whatever he's doing there is really, really big. If you remember last year he had those constant issues (with cramps). He played 37 minutes (Thursday against Cal) without cramping. He's taking some vitamins and doing some things that are really helping him. ... Our trainers have him guzzling Gatorades that are extra-filled with electrolytes and whatever else magic potion."

3VIDEO: JOSHUA SMITH TALKS HEAD INJURY, SITTING OUT

UCLA has Stanford coach's attention

January, 18, 2011
1/18/11
4:08
PM PT
Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer did nothing but praise upstart UCLA during her teleconference with reporters Tuesday. She'll get a closer look Thursday night when No. 4 Stanford (14-2, 5-0) hosts No. 8 UCLA (15-1, 5-0) at Maples Pavilion.

UCLA, off to its best start since the 1976-77 season, last beat Stanford in 2008. It was quite an upset -- Stanford was ranked No. 2 nationally, while the Bruins' claimed their first-ever win against a top-two team.

The following is a collection of VanDerveer's comments:

On having another top-ranked team in the Pac-10 Conference:

VanDerveer: Well, I think it's great. We need it, we need more than two. We need three or four in the top 25, at least. Especially next year when we're getting 12 teams (in the conference). We want to get the attention of the East Coast and Midwest and say, "You know, we play basketball out here too.' I think one of the best things that happened was UCLA beating Notre Dame, Arizona State beating DePaul, (Stanford) beating UConn. We need more of that. I'm hoping that will happen.

On what concerns her most about UCLA:

VanDerveer: Their athleticism and their aggressiveness. They really get their hands on balls, they disrupt you. You're not just going to be able to come to the gym and go along and run your offense any way you want. But I think we're prepared for that. We've played against Tennessee, we've played against UConn, Arizona State -- these are teams (whose) bread and butter is their defensive aggressiveness. I think another thing (UCLA) does is rebound well. They run the floor well. They're really an opportunistic team -- they take advantage of what you give them. They put the ball on the floor and go to the basket well.

On UCLA's progress the last few years:

VanDerveer: I think the good thing for us is we've played against these kids time and time again. I don't know that we're going to be surprised. We know Darxia Morris is an outstanding player; Doreena Campbell; they've got (Jasmine) Dixon, we've played against her three times. We know what they're capable of. They're a very aggressive team and they've had another year together with Nikki Caldwell as their coach. Doreena Campbell and Darxia Morris were great as freshmen. They don't have the big body inside that they had last year, but (Atonye) Nyingifa is playing really well for them. They have a lot of the same cast of characters and they're very experienced.

On the importance of having a competitive conference:

VanDerveer: When we look at women's basketball, one of the biggest criticisms of it is the current lack of parity. It's all the same teams, it's Stanford in the Pac-10, it's UConn or it's Tennessee. Yes, those teams are really good -- but there are other great programs. And they are in the Pac-10. Whether it's for fan interest or to broaden our game, to bring it to more places. I watched the USC-UCLA game -- they had a great crowd at that game. We want to spread the enthusiasm for women's basketball -- not just in these limited places but throughout the country.

On UCLA's development:

VanDerveer: I always felt UCLA was a basketball goldmine. It's a great university, it's a beautiful school, beautiful place. USC, too, down there. They should be great programs. It's very exciting that they are.

Perfect start to Pac-10 play continues

January, 17, 2011
1/17/11
2:17
PM PT
The UCLA women's basketball team is off to its best start in more than 30 years. Here's a brief look at the Bruins' latest weekend:

Thursday, Jan. 13: UCLA 58, Oregon State 46

UCLA jumped out to a 22-7 lead and again used its suffocating full-court defense to keep the Beavers at a distance. Darxia Morris had 16 points and Jasmine Dixon, who was named to the John R. Wooden Award Top 20 earlier in the week, had 11 and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Saturday, Jan. 15: UCLA 87, Oregon 57

Playing in front of a national audience didn't seem to bother UCLA. The Bruins led 45-18 at the half, shaking one of the nation's leading offenses. The 87 points were a season-high for UCLA (23 points above its average). Five players scored in double figures, two others had eight apiece.

Up next: UCLA travels to the Bay Area on Thursday to face No. 4 Stanford (14-2, 5-0), the team that snapped UConn's historic streak earlier this year. Regardless of the outcome, facing Stanford should give coach Nikki Caldwell a sense of how far her squad has come.

W. Basketball: UCLA picked to finish second in Pac-10

October, 25, 2010
10/25/10
8:28
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Third-year coach Nikki Caldwell has the UCLA women's basketball team on the upswing.

The Bruins were picked to finish second in the preseason Pac-10 women's basketball coaches poll, the conference announced Monday. Defending champ Stanford received each of the nine possible first-place votes (coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team). UCLA got the other vote -- meaning Tara VanDerveer, who is entering her 25th season at Stanford, believes the Bruins have the best shot at dethroning her team.

The two have some recent history. UCLA fell to Stanford in the Pac-10 Tournament championship game last season. Still, Caldwell earned Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors by leading the Bruins to a 25-9 record -- the most wins for the program in over a decade. UCLA reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 1 seed Nebraska.

The second-place preseason projection is UCLA's highest since it was picked to take the conference crown before the 1999-2000 season. The Bruins, who return four starters, open the season Nov. 12 at San Diego State.
Larry Scott discusses the new divisions as the Pac-10 grows to the Pac-12.video

How the Bruins went from Zeros to Heroes?

September, 25, 2010
9/25/10
4:29
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A few weeks ago I sat in the UCLA locker room and looked around for signs of life after the Bruins were absolutely demolished 35-0 by what now looks like a really good Stanford team.

Redshirt sophomore running back Johnathan Franklin was smiling. And nothing about it seemed forced.

A few minutes earlier his coach Rick Neuheisel had called the Bruins performance on that night "and offensive disaster" and his offensive coordinator Norm Chow admitted that the game was "embarrassing."

"John," I said. "Why are you smiling right now."

Franklin looked at all the reporters gathered around him and said, "There's a lot of good players in this room."

There's is always a tendency to overreact to a bad loss and a big win. In reality, a team is rarely as bad as it seems after a bad loss, or as good as it seems after a good win.

Looking back on that sad, Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, it's pretty amazing that the same team just demolished Texas on the road today.

As it turns out, Franklin was right. There are a lot of good football players in UCLA's locker room. What everyone needs to understand is that most of those really good players are still very young.

So one week UCLA is going to look as bad at it did against Stanford, and two weeks later they can look as good as they did against Texas today.

After the loss to Stanford, I wrote that the Bruins needed to let those talented young players play and see what happens. The time for conservative, 16-10 wins is over. For UCLA to be the team Neuheisel and Chow want it to be, the Bruins need to let their talent develop and the only way that happens is on the field, and building off games like today.

That's a scary thing for a coach to do coming off a terrible loss at home and staring at the prospect of an 0-4 start with consecutive games against ranked opponents coming up. But that's exactly what Neuheisel and Chow did, playing true freshmen like Anthony Barr, Malcolm Jones, Dietrich Riley and Cassius Marsh extensively over the next two games.

The decision to put talent on the field --despite its youth -- has paid dividends already. It should pay off even more going forward.

Video: Rick Neuheisel postgame presser

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
12:06
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Owen Marecic is Stanford's Mr. Everything

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
9:19
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Stanford's Owen Marecic does it all.

The senior is regarded as one of the nation's best fullbacks -- a title he gained by paving the way for Heisman Trophy finalist Toby Gerhart. A ball carrier is only as good as the blocks in front of him, and given Gerhart's size, the gaps in front of him had to be wide.

Four of Marecic's eight receptions last year were for touchdowns, so he's not just a blocker.

When the Cardinal offense is done, Marecic stays on the field. He also starts at middle linebacker.

And if that weren't enough, Marecic is a human biology major with a GPA hovering near 4.00.

"You don't see anybody do what we're doing this year, starting him on both sides of the ball," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I don't know if teams have a guy like Owen Marecic. This youngster is an amazing football player, the perfectly engineered football player."

We caught up with him at Pac-10 media day, where he tried to describe quarterback Andrew Luck and spoke about playing both sides of the ball. Watch the video below.

Stanford hoping for a lot of Luck against UCLA

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
7:27
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Last year, Andrew Luck was a young and inexperienced redshirt freshman playing quarterback, but that was OK because he had workhorse running back such as Toby Gerhart to help get through the growing pains.

A year later, Gerhart is gone to the NFL and Stanford is thinking it’s nice to have Luck on its side.

Associated Press
With Toby Gerhart a member of the Minnesota Vikings, the Cardinal spotlight shines solely on quarterback Andrew Luck.



Already considered one of the top pro quarterback prospects in the nation, Luck, who turns 21 Sunday, has a strong accurate arm that helped him lead the Pac-10 in passing efficiency last year.

And as the son of former Houston Oilers quarterback Oliver Luck, he’s been around the game enough to develop the type of impeccable instincts that have him pegged as an early NFL draft pick even if he came out of school after this season.

“He puts the ball on the money, he’s real patient in the pocket and he’s probably one of the best quarterbacks we’re going to see all year,” said UCLA cornerback Aaron Hester, whose Bruins will face Stanford Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl.

Despite playing in the shadow of Gerhart, the nation’s leading rusher and Heisman Trophy runner up last season, Luck managed to pass for 2,575 yards and 13 touchdowns as Stanford set a school record for scoring with 461 points.

Now, he’s primed to become the spotlight player on that offense. In Stanford’s opening 52-17 victory over Sacramento State, he completed 17 of 23 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns despite playing barely more than a half.

The added emphasis on the passing game is just fine, he said.

“It's definitely different,” Luck told ESPN.com’s Ted Miller. “Toby was definitely the man for the whole team last year. I tried to put more pressure on myself this spring to step up and shoulder the load of the team more.”

Luck’s arm is clearly what makes him so highly regarded, but he’s no one-trick pony. Last year he was second to Gerhart on the team with 354 yards rushing—the most by a Stanford quarterback since 1966. Still, it’s his arm that has UCLA most concerned.

“Luck is a very accomplished player and he’s very accomplished throwing the ball deep down the field,” UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said.

Luck burned UCLA a couple of times last season, when Stanford defeated the Bruins, 24-16, completing two long passes inside the Bruins’ 10 that set up Gerhart touchdown runs.

“He’s going to be a tough test,” UCLA cornerback Sheldon Price said. “We’re going to have to be on our ‘A’ game.”

Three other Cardinal to watch:

Chris Owusu, WR—A player Neuheisel called “a speed merchant,” he had a team-high five touchdown receptions and was second with 37 catches and 682 yards, but he does even more damage as a kick returner. He had three return touchdowns last year and five returns of 50 yards or more.

Thomas Keiser, LB/DE—Keiser is a pass rush specialist no matter if he’s on the line or backing it. He has 15 sacks in 25 career games and tied for fourth in the Pac-10 with nine sacks last season. His 15 tackles for a loss last season tied for third in the conference.

Chase Beeler, C—Beeler is the leader of an offensive line that returns four starters from the group that helped pave the way for Gerhart’s 1,871 yards rushing last season and led the Pac-10 in fewest sacks allowed with seven. He’s started 21 games since 2008, including all 13 last season.

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