February 15, 4:59 pm
On this week’s episode of “Out of Bounds,” Sports editor Sam Connon and Daily Bruin senior staff Ryan Smith break down UCLA men’s basketball’s up and down weekend and what could lie ahead for the Bruins in the back half of Pac-12 play. Daily Bruin staff writer Vinny Lavalsiti joins the show to talk UCLA softball’s big opening weekend and UCLA women’s basketball’s upset win over then-No. 6 Stanford, and the crew goes through some user-submitted questions.
Sam Connon: Hi, my name is Sam Connon, and this is “Out of Bounds.”
SC: My name is Sam Connon. I’m the Sports editor at the Daily Bruin. Today, I’m joined again by co-host Ryan Smith, who’s a Daily Bruin senior staffer, former Sports editor. How you doing today, Ryan?
Ryan Smith: I’m good. I’m good.
SC: Awesome, so today, we’ll be talking about men’s basketball, ups and downs this past weekend, big loss to Arizona State but then they come back and upset Arizona on the road. We’ll be talking about that. Then next, we’ll be talking about UCLA softball, which just started last weekend. We’ll be having Vinny Lavalsiti, Daily Bruin staff writer, on to help us talk about that. And then we’ll talk about women’s basketball, they upset Stanford on Friday, they beat Cal in overtime on Sunday, so lots to talk about there. And then we’ll be getting to some user-submitted questions from you guys, so thanks for sending those in, for those who did. Ryan, we’re going to start off here with men’s basketball. I know you were covering the Arizona State game – and we’ll get to the Arizona game in a bit – but what were your takeaways from the Arizona State game?
RS: Yeah, obviously with Arizona State, UCLA was without Jalen Hill, who you can make an argument he’s, he’s the best player on that roster. But the story of that game really was just Arizona State could not miss from 3. They finished the night 14-for-24 from beyond the arc, UCLA just could not keep up with that kind of shooting. You know, they, they were in it for a while, but any time a team shoots like that from deep, it’s really hard to dig yourself out of that hole, especially without a player of the caliber of Jalen Hill, so it really was just kind of a throwaway game in the end. I mean, again, there’s really nothing you can do when a team’s shooting the lights out like that. They had three guys go perfect from deep and another guy had three more so, you know, you just kind of have to live with games like that.
SC: Yeah, that’s the thing about this UCLA team is that they – I mean, I don’t really want to speak in hyperbole because I may look like a fool later – but they really will never be able to dig themselves out of a big hole. They’ll never be able to win in a shootout, just because they don’t have the 3-point shooting. So, the second a team like Arizona State gets going from deep like, who do you rely on to hit back-to-back 3s? Because I mean, Singleton’s starting now, he’s not playing too many minutes, Kyman’s like a lower rotation guy. Really, you have two guys who are shooting above 35%. Jake Kyman’s barely over 35% and then David Singleton at 39%. Other than that, no one else is over 33.5%. It’s all pretty lower tier. They don’t even shoot that many 3s. So, it’s just, they’re not, they don’t play the style that is kind of good for big comebacks. But I guess that takes us into the Arizona game on Sunday because the thing this team can do well is defend and hold a lead and kind of grind out those close games because they were hitting free throws, like, amazing defense. They had two different stretches of seven-plus minutes where they didn’t allow a field goal from Arizona. So, Arizona got to the line a little bit, they scored some, but I mean, the UCLA offense isn’t great, but it did enough to kind of stretch one out on the road. So to pull away like that down the stretch was really impressive. I don’t know, what do you think of that in the second half, Ryan?
RS: It is. I think, overall I think what we’re seeing from this team is we’ve seen it with the the Oregon game and now after the Arizona State game, you know, they show us what they can be. And then there’s a game where, you know, things get out of hand – whether it be the the the Oregon game or the Arizona State game – but they come right back in the next game, and they get right back to what was working for them. And I think that’s a good sign for this team, especially at this point of the season, even when they have these games where, you know, their defense isn’t working the way it needs to in order for them to win given their lack of offense. They find a way to come back out and figure it out the next game. And, you know, that’s what you want to see from a team that doesn’t have that explosive piece it needs to be. It needs to grind these games out, and they’ve proven that they can do it on any given night.
SC: Yeah, they almost won despite their mistakes on Sunday. Obviously, defense wins you a lot of games, but they had 18 turnovers to Arizona’s 9. Arizona had 11 more points off turnovers, and UCLA ended up winning by 13. That typically doesn’t happen. That’s what happens when you shoot about 50% from the field and you hold your opponent 25%, which also won’t happen every week, so, you’re going to have to limit those turnovers. But you win the rebounding battle – that’s big. I think this team has a lot of depth, which really helps down the stretch because you had Jaime Jaquez, you had Cody Riley, Jalen Hill, Chris Smith, all in foul trouble. And while you don’t have big bodies – like you don’t have multiple power forwards and centers that you can slide in behind Riley and Hill – you do have enough wings. And you do – Mick Cronin does tend to go with smaller lineups down the stretch, so he’s kind of OK with those big men being in foul trouble. That kind of allows them to play a physical 40 minutes and no one fouled out on Sunday, despite the foul trouble, so I think the lineups were managed really well and that just really helped down the stretch. So, UCLA men’s basketball, they are playing Washington State at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday. We will be there covering it, and then on Saturday they’ll be playing Washington. Washington State, they lost to in overtime back in the first weekend of conference play, but the Pac-12 opener was against Washington – that was Jake Kyman’s big game, where he had that last-second 3 for the win. It’s going to be a really interesting weekend because there’s a lot on the line in terms of standings. They’re not too far back of Oregon and Colorado at the top and they have that tiebreaker with Colorado, so a bye at the Pac-12 tournament is still definitely in play for UCLA men’s basketball here. And then our next segment here on “Out of Bounds” is UCLA softball. They just opened their season with six games this past weekend, 6-0, big weekend. And to talk about the team, we’re going to welcome Vinny Lavalsiti, Daily Bruin staff. Vinny, how you doing today?
Vinny Lavalsiti: Good man. Thanks for having me on. Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.
SC: Yeah, I guess Vinny, just first thoughts. I know this year, your first season covering the team, but I know you watched them last year. So just general thoughts on how the team played this weekend, how they’re different from last year. Just any any major takeaways you had?
VL: Yeah, you know, I realized the two programs I’ve covered at UCLA – the 2018-2019 women’s basketball team and now the softball team – they both kind of dealt with the loss of two stars with Jordin Canada and Monique Billings, and Rachel Garcia and Bubba Nickles this year. And it’s been, I’ve seen a real difference in how those two programs handled those departures. And I think a big part of that for UCLA softball is how they’ve kind of built around the freshmen, and you can see in the opening weekend, the freshmen just came out guns blazing.
SC: Yeah, I want to ask because I know Tom Brady was here this weekend. I obviously I’m a big Patriots fan. But the reason he was here was Maya Brady, one of those freshmen. She had four home runs, she was, like, one of the top prospects in the country coming in as a recruit. What did you see out of out of her and the other freshmen specifically this weekend?
VL: You know, I think people have got this legacy already shaped out for Maya to be, like, a part of this athletic lineage. But, you know, I think Maya might have something to say about that when it’s all said and done – she might be one top infielders ever to play for UCLA softball. But this weekend, you know, she’s leading the team already in home runs. You know, that kind of just helped, didn’t help completely solve the absences of Bubba Nickles and Rachel Garcia from the lineup, but it definitely helped, and I know coach Kelly Inouye-Perez definitely agrees. Yeah, Maya, she kind of alternated throughout the field, played second base and center field for most of the time this weekend. And it’s kind of ironic, the one game Tom Brady was there, she didn’t hit a home run on the weekend. So I’m not sure, maybe she told Tom not to come to any more games, I don’t know.
SC: All right. And so I know that the game, the early game on Sunday, UCLA went up 13-0 in that first inning. I don’t know if you were there for that game, but wow. I mean, just generally speaking, how demoralizing is that if you’re Pittsburgh, and you come 2,500 miles and you let up 13 runs in the first inning?
VL: You know, it’s funny because the game before, Pittsburgh held UCLA to only four runs off of three hits, and UCLA literally tripled that run total in 2/3 innings. So, they ended the inning with a 13-run frame, and a large part of that was the freshmen getting on base. And Maya and Seneca Curo, they both go deep, and Curo ending it with the grand slam, and she now leads the team in RBIs with 11. So yeah, it was definitely a show to watch in that first inning.
SC: Yeah, that’s crazy. So, it’s early for sure, but I know they’re already starting to show their national presence. Just a quick yes or no question, no explanation allowed: Can this team repeat as national champions?
VL: Definitely. You know, I think people kind of didn’t, they kind of discounted the fact that the Bruins lost Rachel and Bubba Nickles and Taylor Pack in that lineup. And coach Kelly, like I said, those three freshmen and Delanie Wisz – that junior transfer – they’ve definitely helped out their case. And the softball AP poll, they already took recognition to that, moving up to No. 3 after No. 4 just today, this morning. So yes, I do believe they have a chance, to get back to your yes or no question, but yeah.
SC: So, UCLA softball, they get things going again on Friday. They’re going to Clearwater, Florida, they’re starting things off with Alabama, one of the top teams in the country, that’s obviously a good program, so that’ll be a fun one to watch. But also this weekend, you have UCLA women’s basketball. They’re playing Oregon at home Friday night. That one, I’m surprised it’s not on ESPN, that’s kind of a shock to me, two top-10 teams. UCLA vs Oregon is on Pac-12 Networks Friday night, and then they play Oregon State on Monday. I know the three us – myself, Ryan, Vinny – we all started on women’s basketball, so we are obviously familiar with this team, past teams. I think there’s a different feeling to this team. It obviously helps when you’re the last undefeated team in the country and you start as hot as they did to kind of get that going, but I don’t know, Ryan, what do you expect out of the team this weekend? 2-0, 1-1, 0-2?
RS: Man, I’m super excited for this Oregon game. I remember way back in the day when Kelsey Plum came in with Washington to play Jordin Canada and Monique Billings. There’s just a different vibe to that game, and I just can’t wait to see Ionescu come in here, take on Onyenwere and the Bruins, it’s gonna be great. But I think I want to say they go 2-0, but it’s hard to bet against Ionescu the way she’s been playing these past few years, but I think it’ll be a great game. As you said, I can’t believe it’s not on ESPN. I understand that the ESPN slot will be taken most likely by NBA but you know, ESPN2, come on guys.
SC: Yeah, exactly.
RS: Get us on ESPN2. But yeah, I think there’s a good chance they go 2-0, and if they do, I think we have a top-five team on our hands here.
SC: Yeah, and Sabrina Ionescu, so when she and Oregon came to Pauley Pavilion last year, Oregon won by 20, wasn’t a particularly close game by halftime. It was already a double-digit lead, pretty much over, but Sabrina, she barely shot over 25% from the field. She had 14 points, six assists, five rebounds – those are kind of below her averages pretty considerably. So, I don’t know, Vinny, you there at last year’s Oregon game and do you expect UCLA to slow down Sabrina again this year?
VL: Yeah, you know, so UCLA’s just coming off that upset against Stanford too, so that’s definitely to take note. But the place to be for that Friday game is not on the couch watching on Pac-12 Networks – it’s to be in Pauley Pavilion to watch Sabrina Ionescu and Michaela Onyenwere and Japreece Dean to go at it and Ruthy Hebard go at it. And it’s going to be definitely a closer contest than that blowout last year. So yes, definitely fill up Pauley Pavilion, because that will be a sight to see, that game.
SC: Yeah, that’ll definitely be fun, looking forward to that. Women’s basketball is kind of on the back nine in its Pac-12 slate, looking forward to see what they do down the stretch.
RS: I’ll also say this though about this Oregon matchup – UCLA has actually lost five of their last six against this Oregon team and Oregon’s knocked them out of the last two Pac-12 tournaments. So, this team has been a thorn in the side of Cori Close and this team for the last few years now. So, getting a win here, in a top-10 matchup at home, would be really big for this program.
SC: Yeah, for sure. So, that’s that’s about all we have in terms of main segments here. We’re going to move on to the Q&A part. We got a question on Twitter from @uclablack, Duke Caboom, and he’s asking, “What’s the status of Myles Misener-Daley? Best sprinter recruit for UCLA men in the last 20 years maybe, possible 2020 Olympian for Canada. As far as I know, hasn’t appeared yet in indoor track. Secretive UCLA track has given him pretty much 0 promo. Thanks!” Well, thanks for the question, Duke. We have tried reaching out and talking, getting a little insight. So, Vinny, you come from a track background, you covered the team last year. What do you know about this?
VL: Yeah, so Myles is yet to compete this year, obviously, but he’s – as it stands – his U20 Canadian record for the 400-meter would be the No. 2 time in the country, should he run with that same exact time. And Myles, he’s a big part of that recruiting trail Anderson’s been on the past two years, and you can see this renaissance in the track department of the track and field program. Not just with Myles but with transfer Shae Anderson, another freshman Chinyere Okoro. She posted a sub-eight second 60-meter dash last weekend in Albuquerque to crack UCLA’s top-10 indoor list, and then Catherine Leger’s not too far behind her. And then the other departments of the track and field program have seen some some Bruins climb into the top 50 of the country, top 100 the country in their respective events. So, there’s definitely going to be a lot of new places the Bruins are gonna be scoring this year at the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, so that’s something to look forward to. But as to Myles, we have yet to see him compete this year, but I’m sure when he does, it will definitely add onto the Bruins’ sprinting side of the program, and hopefully he’ll be able to get past regionals and compete in the championships.
SC: Yeah, and sometimes there are injuries or just little nicks here and there. So that could be a thing, don’t want to speculate. But, I mean, it could be any combination of things. Maybe he’s planning on redshirting, or we don’t really know. I mean, if you look at his Instagram, he’s still posting pictures at UCLA, seems happy, he’s on the roster, he’s listed, so he may not be a super active participant on the team right now in indoors, but he’ll be around. He’ll probably live up to the to the hype at some point, whether it’s this year, next year, later this season, this weekend – we don’t really know. And yeah, that’s about all we have this week for you, Vinny. Thanks for coming in.
VL: Yeah, thank you guys.
SC: Love talking softball, women’s basketball with you and get a little track and field in there, too. UCLA men’s basketball, big week this weekend that we were talking about in terms of Pac-12 seeding, so that’ll be interesting to keep an eye on. I don’t know, Ryan, you got any other thoughts on men’s basketball or anything else?
RS: Nothing really men’s basketball related but because we only had one question today, I just kind of want to throw out a question to the room here.
SC: Oh, boy.
RS: This weekend, I actually was able to go catch the gymnastics meet against Arizona, and I was watching and I was watching Kyla Ross, right? And she’s been here for four years, I’ve seen her many, many times, but this year it seems like she might be the most superior athlete I have seen on this campus in four years. It’s weird, I used to go to Kings games all the time, Sacramento Kings games, all the time when I was a kid. And the team, the Kings were so bad that you would go for you would go for the other players, right? So I’m going for Kobe Bryant, I’m going for LeBron, and when you go to these games, you feel that energy that these guys are just the best athlete on the floor, there’s nobody close. And for some reason this weekend, it hit like a train with Kyla Ross. And she took home the top score in three of the four events, and I was thinking to myself – other than maybe Rachel Garcia, I’m not sure I’ve seen a more dominant athlete in my four years here. So I was wondering if you guys can think of anybody who maybe takes that crown.
SC: I’m thinking off the top of my head. Definitely Kyla and Rachel are up there for sure. I’m trying to think, I feel like, I mean, I missed the Lonzo train. That was before my freshman year, so I didn’t see that hype.
RS: And the thing with Lonzo is that team it felt like a collective thing. That team was so good from one to five in the starting lineup that no matter how good Lonzo was or how good he looked, it felt like that was a team thing. And with Kyla, it just feels like she is the most unstoppable force in her sport.
SC: Yeah, I would say the the next closest – and I wouldn’t put her on that level, but she’s definitely gone on to succeed on other levels for sure – I would probably go with Jordin Canada, covering her my freshman year. She had a near quadruple-double, she would score 20 points almost every game, she’s got the best shooting form like of any basketball player, men’s or women’s, it just looks so nice. She would find a way to get open shots, get open jumpers, get around bigger defenders, not as dominant as a Kyla Ross or Rachel Garcia, but I think she’s probably the next closest thing that I’ve seen.
VL: Yeah, I think, adding onto the women’s basketball thing, I think Michaela Onyenwere deserves some conversation too in that, in the top athlete of UCLA, you know. She just put up 29 and 10 the other day, and she gets it done on both sides of the court, you know. She definitely crashes the boards harder than any forward I’ve seen at UCLA since I’ve been here. And so yeah, honorable mention Michaela Onyenwere, in my opinion.
SC: Nice. And then I guess as we’re as we’re going out here, I wrote a column last week for Daily Bruin Sports about the potential destinations for Josh Rosen where he could be going next if the Dolphins choose to trade him. And the the ideas I came up with were the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos. I don’t know, just quickly guys like last 30 seconds here. Do any of those destinations sound like they’re good for Rosen or are there any others to toss in there as well? Vinny, you first.
VL: You know, for Josh, it seems like there’s been a trend the past few years that the NFL just loves to ruin good quarterbacks coming out of the draft, very young quarterbacks. And I think Josh is a perfect example of that. And I think for him, maybe being close to UCLA in San Diego might be a good option for him. You know, he had success at UCLA and maybe being in the same region would do the same thing.
SC: Vinny, they moved to Los Angeles. I know everyone forgets, but the Chargers are a Los Angeles football team now.
VL: Did I say San Diego Chargers? My bad, sorry. Sorry, I’m still an Oakland Raiders fan.
SC: Ryan, what about you?
RS: Um, yeah. Back before that draft, I was at Josh Rosen’s pro day and the only notable heads that I saw there were John Elway and then Vance Joseph, who was the Broncos’ head coach at the time. So, I’m sure there’s still some interest there from Elway, just considering how hard they were chasing him for that draft, or how it appeared they’re chasing him for the draft, but obviously they have Drew Lock now. I don’t know how highly they think of him, but I’ve always wanted to see Rosen with Elway, I’ve always thought that’d be a good relationship for him. But obviously – you and I have talked about this plenty of times – it just seems right that a team like the Patriots would take him on, you know, he could be the replacement for Tom Brady whenever that comes, whether it be this offseason or, you know, five years from now, because it’s Tom Brady and he never stops playing. But at the end of day, I just want to see him in a good situation. He’s got a really rough hand so far being on the Cardinals, a team that went through a coaching change, just didn’t really want him, and then being on the Dolphins. I mean, that’s just not the place for an up-and-coming talent. So, yeah, just get him in a place where he can maybe have a chance to play.
SC: Yeah, if I’m putting money on it. I’m putting it on Rosen to the Patriots, because I think Brady will go back, but he’ll need an understudy. So then you get a young quarterback like Rosen, who has some experience, but then they also hired Jedd Fisch, who was the UCLA offensive coordinator in Rosen’s junior year here, last year at UCLA, and now he’s an offensive assistant coach for the Patriots. So, that’ll be an interesting connection for sure. Curious to see if the Dolphins choose to move him, if they stick with Fitzpatrick or if they draft Tua. Whatever they end up doing, the Rosen saga will be interesting to follow for sure. So, thanks for coming in, guys. That’s all we have this week for “Out of Bounds.” Make sure to send in your questions for next week. If you have any on anything UCLA sports, you can email them to [email protected], or you can tweet them @DBSports, or you can find myself or Ryan on Twitter and tweet them at us that way. We’re happy to answer anything you guys send in. So, thanks for listening, it’s been another fun week. Big week of UCLA sports coming up, UCLA baseball is getting things started, so just keep keep an eye on on all that and thanks for listening.