By now you know we do occasional Q&A segments with our upcoming opponents. Carlos Sandoval, a Bruin fan and new editor at BlueBruinDigest (part of the Bloguin network), and formerly editor of GoJoeBruin at FanSided, has graciously come out to talk with us today before our UCLA game this evening. We hope to get a hold of both Carlos and GJB in the future for segments like these in a majority of our matchups in both football and basketball with the powder blue and gold.
He’s a true-blue Bruin (no pun intended), passionate and tough on his team, but I personally love that he feels much the same way about his coach as we do ours. Keep in mind the Bruins are a state of Washington sweep away, tonight and Saturday, from taking at least a share of the Pac-12 regular season crown home to L.A., while we are in the cellar of the conference. You gotta love that right?! I keep telling him while laughing hysterically, I wish we had #UCLAProblems! So with that in mind, let’s get it.
ACU: Ben Howland’s recruiting classes had been pretty average for a couple of seasons by UCLA standards, really since Kevin Love left. But then Shabazz headlined a super class in 2012 and it seems to me that he could keep it rolling if only Shabazz leaves. What are your thoughts on Bruin recruiting classes over the last several years?
CS: About the same as you. He’s burned a lot of recruiting bridges over the past few years, especially in California. He’s reliant, it seems, on national recruiting and that brings in guys that he totally went away from, which were unheralded high school dudes who were incredibly raw but very athletic. It’s pretty much the reason why UCLA has struggled so much the past few season.
ACU: Why are Bruin fans so hard on their teams? I know Championships are a standard, especially for basketball and that’s fine on a conference level. UCLA will most likely take home a share of a Pac-12 regular season title after this weekend and if they make the Finals in the Pac-12 tourney could lock a top 4 or 5 seed. I am a totally mystified over the thought that Howland could lose his job over that, as many Bruin fans (including yourself) have been saying.
CS: Yeah, I think standards are definitely higher; UCLA expects deep tournament runs at least every other year and we haven’t gotten one of those since 2008. We expect this because it’s easier to win at UCLA especially with the tradition, location and prestige the job holds. At Washington State, for example, it’s a lot tougher to convince recruits that Pullman, WA, is where the hot s*** is at.
CS: I think UCLA gets a 6 seed; they could get seeded higher if they run the table from here on out but the 6 seed seems to be high as it is for this UCLA team, which has an odd resume.
ACU: The Bruins don’t generally play excellent in Beasley or Hec-Ed. Is it even possible UCLA loses either of these games in Washington? With the way the Pac-12 is viewed lately as a weaker power conference, if the Bruins were to lose both and end up 3rd would it knock them out of the NCAA Tournament if they didn’t secure the auto bid in Vegas?
CS: It’s very possible that UCLA gets swept up north, because Seattle, WA, generally isn’t very kind to us (UCLA has lost there every year since 2004) and Washington State’s one of those teams that UCLA can sleep on and inexplicably lose to. But no, UCLA is pretty much guaranteed a tournament spot. They have good enough wins to carry them through the weakness of the conference and such. Seeding does matter, though.
ACU: Your thoughts on the Conference Tournament moving from Staples (right in your back yard) to Vegas?
CS: I can see why they did it, and hopefully it’s a nice pay-off, but you have to wonder if it’ll help attendance. Perhaps it will, considering people want to be in Vegas anyway and considering the city of Las Vegas has a very basketball-hungry fan-base. Who knows, though?
ACU: Your thoughts on the Washington State basketball program and Ken Bone?
CS: No offense, but I don’t like Ken Bone as the WSU coach. I know Washington State isn’t exactly a team expecting a bid to the tournament every year but Tony Bennett proved WSU could become a consistent winner. Washington State’s got a long way to go. I love Brock Motum, though.