I know I've been light on the UCLA stuff of late, primarily due to my laziness, and also due to the fact that they just haven't been much fun to watch on the football field this year. But Basketball season starts tonight (unofficially), and after reading the updates from Brian Dohn, and this piece on Ben Howland in the Times, I'm pretty pumped for hoops season. For UCLA the last few years, this has been one of the more fun parts of the season. They've been pulling in such excellent talent that it makes the first five games or so, when we all get introduced to the new recruits, very exciting. And with the nation's top class taking the floor, this year is no exception.
Not sure what the basketball season will hold this year, but early reports are mixed on the optimistic side. Supposedly the atmosphere around the team is much better, with some seniors who maybe weren't the best teammates having moved on. They add a little talent when Alex Legion returns next month. Both Jamar Smith and Brian Carlwell have left, so hopefully the distractions from that incident are gone from the Assembly Hall for good. The real talent influx starts with next year's recruiting class.
Speaking of the Hall, I spent some time in its parking lot this weekend as I was down in Champaign for the Illinois-Iowa football game. Interestingly enough, before Saturday, I'd been to two Illinois football games since graduating, and both were played at the Rose Bowl. This was the first time I'd been in Memorial Stadium since the upgrade, and it's pretty nice. They need an extra video screen, and they need to be a little larger, but generally the facility looks pretty decent, and it's always nice to be back down on campus. Better yet, I saw the Illini win, something they failed to do in the previous two post-graduation games I'd seen. They made it more exciting than they should have, and Ron Zook showed the country that he's not quite sure how to handle time outs, but a win is a win, and fortunately it pissed off the douchebag Iowa fan that was sitting in front of us.
Just an update to my Spiritualized post from a few days ago, you can listen to a full set from their last tour at this link. It doesn't quite capture how amazing it was in person, but even if you don't want to listen to the whole thing, the first two songs are worth 10 minutes. They're the best back to back openers I've ever seen at a live show.