The Sports Arena Isn’t Quite His Favorite Spot
The Sports Arena was a place the UCLA Bruins once called home, but for this current group of players it is merely a once-a-year stop.
Fifth-year senior Cedric Bozeman has the most memories of the arena, where the 15th-ranked Bruins (20-5 overall, 10-3 in Pacific 10 Conference games) will play for the final time today.
Next season, USC will play its home games in the new Galen Center.
The first two things Bozeman mentioned when asked about the Sports Arena: “Dead spots on the floor and the dark background.”
And how would he rate the arena among Pacific 10 Conference courts?
Right down there with Washington State’s Friel Court in Pullman, Bozeman said.
And, of the two, which does he prefer? “The Sports Arena,” Bozeman said, “because when I go outside, I’m still in L.A.”
Guard Jordan Farmar, who was two of 13 shooting from the floor and had seven turnovers in a loss to Washington last Saturday, says his two sprained ankles have severely limited him.
“Neither one is close to 100%,” Farmar said. “Right now, the right one [sprained and then re-sprained three times this season] is the stronger of the two. It’s tough moving around, tough starting and stopping.”
UCLA’s options at center are limited when starter Ryan Hollins is on the bench or has fouled out, as was the case last week against Washington.
Freshman Ryan Wright is being brought along slowly, sophomore Lorenzo Mata is still several weeks from attempting a comeback from a broken leg, and senior Michael Fey is barely used by Coach Ben Howland.
That leaves power forward Alfred Aboya, a freshman still behind on the learning curve after missing the early part of the season following arthroscopic surgery on his knees. Now he’s being asked to learn another position.
“It’s all basketball,” said Aboya with a shrug of his shoulders. “But when they ask me to do something on the court, I have to draw the play in my head. Sometimes, I don’t have the time to draw.”
Even if USC loses its final five regular-season games and bows out in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, the Trojans (15-9, 6-7) still might qualify for the National Invitation Tournament under its new selection guidelines.
NIT officials announced earlier this week that teams would no longer be required to have a winning record to qualify for the 40-team tournament, which begins March 14.
If USC went 0-6 before postseason play, the Trojans would be 15-15 and still possibly attractive to the NIT selection committee because of victories over North Carolina and Arizona.
Jeremy Barr is making a team-high 61.9% of his shots in Pac-10 play, so why isn’t the USC freshman averaging more than 11 minutes per game?
Simply put, defense and rebounding.
The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 1.2 rebounds and can be a liability guarding more sprightly big men.
But couldn’t Barr, who has developed an array of impressive post moves including a hook shot and a short turnaround jumper, help the Trojans in certain situations on offense?
“As long as he’s able to go help us play good collectively and individually on the defensive end,” Coach Tim Floyd said. “That’s always going to be first and foremost.”
UCLA at USC, 5 p.m., FSN West
Site -- Sports Arena.
Radio -- 1540, 570.
Records -- UCLA, 20-5 overall, 10-3 in the Pac-10; USC, 15-9, 6-7.
Update -- UCLA routed USC, 66-45, Jan. 18 and Floyd says that alone should be enough to motivate his team, which has lost three straight. “If they can’t remember that, then we’ve got the wrong guys,” Floyd said. The coach said the difference the first time was UCLA’s defense. The Bruins may be without Aboya, who has a strained groin muscle.
Tickets -- (213) 740-4672.
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