Before the UCLA men’s basketball team begins its barnstorming home schedule, which kicks off this Sunday nearly 60 miles from Westwood, a lot of adjustments are going to have to be made.
For one, the Bruins’ temporary practice courts at the Student Activities Center are smaller than regulation size.
That became apparent when the players stepped on the Los Angeles Sports Arena court Thursday for a closed scrimmage against Cal State Fullerton.
“It’s kind of a crutch playing in the Men’s Gym and (then) having to play on the regulation court,” redshirt sophomore forward Travis Wear said. “I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a problem, but there’s definitely a substantial disparity between the two.”
Then there’s the matter of acclimating to the Sports Arena itself.
“When we were going over there, I didn’t know what to expect because I had just heard about it,” sophomore center Joshua Smith said. “We walked in, and I felt like we were on the set of “˜Hoosiers’ or something, like in the 1980s. It was just so old.”
The 52-year old arena, the location for all but five UCLA home games this year, has been lightly used since USC’s men’s basketball team moved to the Galen Center in 2006.
The players’ initial impressions from the scrimmage were tepid, but they won’t have to go back until Nov. 11 for the season opener. In the meantime, the Bruins will head to Ontario to play an exhibition match against Cal State San Bernardino at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Even then, there is little to look forward to in their temporary home.
“You sit on the chairs in the locker room, and dust and dirt’s coming off the chairs,” Smith said.
“The lower bowl, I don’t even think the seats were up right now,” Wear added. “It still looks like a work in progress, honestly.”
Bruins in China?
Continuing a point he brought up at Friday’s Pac-12 Media Day, UCLA coach Ben Howland said a planned overseas trip to China in the summer of 2012 is still in its “infancy stages.”
NCAA rules allow teams to travel overseas to play against professional competition once every four years. Duke and Georgetown recently toured China, facing off against Chinese Basketball Association teams. USC (Brazil) and Stanford (Spain) also took international trips during the summer.
“Fitting into the time line we want ““ after Session C so we don’t miss class ““ I would really like it for next year’s team,” Howland said. “It would be great for the school, with everything that’s going on between our university and that country.”
Bumps and bruises
Redshirt sophomore center Anthony Stover is expected to miss games beyond the regular-season opener against Loyola Marymount after he tore cartilage in his left shoulder. Howland said it could be up to two weeks before Stover returned to non-contact drills.
Smith sported a walking boot on his right foot after spraining his ankle after Friday’s practice, but said he expected to be fine for the exhibition.
Howland expected De’End Parker to return to practice Tuesday, a little more than a week after the junior transfer guard sustained a concussion. Parker, who is expected to play Sunday, was held out of last week’s scrimmage.