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Tuesday, November 1, 2011
UCLA not yet comfortable at old USC arena

By Diamond Leung

While Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations, UCLA will be making its primary home at the Los Angeles Sports Arena adjacent to the USC campus. The Bruins used to play at the arena decades ago, but the facility is better known as the Trojans' old home before recently moving into the Galen Center.

As of right now, UCLA sophomore Joshua Smith is a little weirded out by playing so close to the team's crosstown rival, according to ESPN Los Angeles.
But what really irked Smith was that there was still a USC banner hanging on the outside of the arena -- a not-so-subtle reminder that the Trojans played their home games there until the Galen Center opened in 2006. Smith knew that, but didn't realize that the arena was adjacent to USC's campus and the Coliseum, where USC plays football.

"It's just like, we're in SC's old gym," Smith said. "What really threw me off is I knew it was close, but I didn't know it was that close to their campus. We were pulling up and I was like the Coliseum is right there, where are we going? And then it's like The Los Angeles Sports Arena right there. I'm like, 'OK, this is a nice location.'"

A few days earlier, UCLA point guard Lazeric Jones recalled wondering while the team scrimmaged at the Sports Arena last week whether or not the Bruins would get booed during home games this season in USC territory. Coach Ben Howland quickly followed up that statement by declaring the Bruins would make the best of the arrangement.

"The facilities people at UCLA working with the Sports Arena staff in terms of fixing it up to make it feel comfortable for UCLA," Howland said. "Our locker room is very nice. They're still doing a bunch of work yet on it that will be completed in the next two weeks in terms of the entire facility."

Smith, meanwhile, talked more about the dust coming off the chairs of the locker room. Then again, he's not exactly USC's biggest fan.

The Bruins' center last year complained about USC celebrating a win on the court before the game was officially over and also directed an obscene gesture toward a Trojans fan.

While it could be seen as a good thing that the rivalry has not died down between the two schools, Smith is ultimately talking about UCLA's home court for the coming season. Like it or not, the Bruins are going to have to get comfortable there very soon.