One of Chianti Dan's most "brilliant" moves was to have UCLA plays its home games practically on the USC campus. There is no defending this move and tonight UCLA will be in the ultimate non-home home game against USC on their campus in a rundown arena as the "home" team:
The UCLA basketball team has played host at the Sports Arena 11 times this season as Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations, winning seven of those games.
Tonight's matchup will be unlike any of those, though.
This time, the opponent needs to just roll out of bed to make it to the arena.
While the Bruins will "host" USC at 7:30 p.m., they are expecting quite the turf war.
"Our gym is on their campus; it's what, not even 50 yards from the Coliseum?" UCLA sophomore center Joshua Smith said.
Smith and other players added their thoughts on the "home court."
All of our games haven't really felt like home games so this isn't really anything new," center Joshua Smith said. "People have said that they will have a lot of fans there being that it is on their campus, but it doesn't matter. We're just going to go out there and play." . . .
"I'm not concerned at all," guard Tyler Lamb said. "We're not playing to see how many fans go to the game, we're playing to win. That's the main thing. We are playing on SC's campus, but I still feel like it's a home game for us. We've been playing there all year and we've adjusted to it pretty well. I think we're still going to get great fan support."
"I really do want to see if we're going to have more fans than them," guard Lazeric Jones said. "I'm sure we'll get more of our fans out there. Hopefully I don't have to go out and recruit fans."
While I think UCLA fans and especially students should make the trip, especially when we have a chance to bury an epically bad SUC team, I understand the sentiment Scott Ried wrote about why care when saying SUC is the worst team in decades and UCLA is fighting to get to fourth place. But the players still care.
After all, Lamb said, "it's a huge game."
"Can't say the things that he[CBH] says," Bruins guard Lazeric Jones said, "but he's really big on what this game means."
"You know we don't like them, and they don't like us," UCLA center Joshua Smith said.
"We took a loss last year over at 'SC and it was tough to swallow," Lamb said.
Almost has tough as swallowing the notion that anything about tonight is truly "huge."
Which brings up an interesting story written by Jon Gold entitled "IF ONLY." The story lists all the people who could have started for USC and UCLA if they had not transferred, injured, left early, etc. for UCLA and USC. It is interesting to note that three of the current UCLA starters are not even good enough to be listed on the bench of "potential" UCLA team. While USC has some excuses for their problems which include injuries and players leaving after a coaching change, UCLA problems seem to land squarely on CBH.
Sophomore center Anthony Stover missed practice on Feb. 10 and the California game (Feb. 11) with tendonitis in his left foot. He was able to practice for an hour on Monday (Feb. 13) and complete a full practice on Tuesday. He is listed as probable for the Bruins' game on Feb. 15 when they host USC in the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
This should be an easy game tonight. Even a SUC player seem to agree (emphasis mine):
USC has lost four games in a row and has won only one of its last 14. The Trojans, down to six scholarship players, are coming off a 59-47 loss to Stanford, the third consecutive game in which they failed to reach 50 points. USC Guard Maurice Jones, when asked what the Trojans needed to do to beat the Bruins, said, "We need more players."
This is the first game of a strange pair this week. While tonight's game is on Prime Ticket at 7:32 p.m. PST the next game will be national on CBS against St. John's. St. John's looks good compared to USC but otherwise not so much.
Ben Howland, whose team won't warrant NCAA tournament at-large consideration, didn't sound like he was looking forward to the trip.
"It definitely makes it a tougher week, gives us less preparation time for the USC game, because we're playing it (today)," he said.
Howland said the game is good for "national television exposure," but that the league's new television deal next season "will help its constituents, all of us, be able to recruit better nationally."
We will give the last word for tonight's game to Howland:
"The bottom line is if USC beats us tomorrow, that will really be a feather in their cap with everything they've gone through," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "We know they're going to come out and play really hard and play really tough."
It would make USC's season to beat UCLA tonight. For UCLA it means a more likely NIT/CBI bid and continues the fight for fourth place in the Pac-12. Since USC does not care about basketball, I am not sure who is having the worse season.
Go Bruins, Beat SC!