It’s an exciting time for Bruin fans, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some controversy. Daily Bruin Sports senior staffers Min Kang and Vidur Malik debate the pressing issues facing various teams at UCLA. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to weigh in on Facebook by searching “Daily Bruin Sports” or Twitter @DBSports.
The football team won again Saturday, but struggled against Washington State. Are you concerned?
Min Kang:There’s some cause for concern. This year’s Cal team isn’t as good as the one from a few years ago, but UCLA needs to avoid any lapses against a team that has given the Bruins fits in recent years, no matter the records. I think UCLA wins this weekend, but not as sure with next week’s date with Oregon.
Vidur Malik:Not really. Though the defense had a tough time with the Cougars, they got late stops. The defense is fiery, and the leaders won’t let them struggle two weeks in a row. It was also good to see solid passing stats, as that department was the team’s biggest concern going into the WSU game.
Is quarterback Kevin Prince the next Ben Olson when it comes to injuries?
Min Kang:It’s probably too early to tell if Prince is Olson 2.0, but at this point, the injuries do seem to be like his second shadow. At the end of the day, I don’t think Prince’s career is going to flame out as badly Olson’s four years did, but if No. 4 misses any more games, I’ve got no qualms with Richard Brehaut getting the nod.
Vidur Malik:Yes, Prince has been hurt a lot, but it’s understandable. If his role in the pistol offense is to use his legs more than his arm, we might just need to accept that the potential for injury is high. He runs hard and lowers his shoulder, so it’s not like he’s Sammy Sosa, who got injured while sneezing.
With striker Sydney Leroux returning just in time for the match against No. 1 Stanford, which eliminated the women’s soccer team from the College Cup last year, is the weekend make-or-break for the No. 13 Bruins?
Min Kang:It’s not so much must-win, since this weekend is just the start of Pac-10 play, but a win against the No. 1 team in the country would be huge. My guess: Mentally and adrenaline-wise, the girls will be ready. I don’t think they’ll overlook Friday’s match against Cal, but Jill Ellis will have her team prepared.
Vidur Malik:After snapping their seasons-long home winning streak, UCLA will be getting Leroux right when they really need her. That said, this weekend won’t be very decisive for the rest of the season. It will be a good test for the Bruins though, to see how they fare against the No. 1 team with Leroux back in town.
The men’s water polo team hosted the SoCal Tournament this weekend, and lost to USC in the final. How did the Bruins look?
Min Kang:If only those NCAA penalties included a Harry Potter invisibility cloak crazy-glued to the Trojans’ men’s water polo team, then the biggest thorn in the side of coach Adam Wright would disappear just like that. But considering the Bruins have lost their last five matches against ‘SC, I think they’re due for a win.
Vidur Malik:The Bruins looked like their usual high-scoring selves, until they played the Trojans. Going back to last year’s NCAA final, they’ve lost to USC by one point three matches in a row. At some point, they’re going to have to get over their USC woes if they want to rule SoCal, and eventually the NCAA.
Was freshman Victor Chavez’s hat trick against Oregon State the biggest individual performance of the year so far?
Min Kang:Chavez definitely had an impressive game, but I’m going back to the pool here: Cristiano Mirarchi, an Italian phenom for the men’s water polo team, went off for five goals against Stanford on Sept. 19. Add to it the fact that the Bruins hadn’t won against the Cardinal since Sept. 16, 2007, and Mirarchi easily takes stud status.
Vidur Malik:I would say so. A freshman scoring three goals in one match and carrying his team to a win is career-defining stuff. Even though it didn’t happen in an important match or against a big rival, it’s something that can energize a team and give it some momentum for the rest of the season.