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Bruins could become basketball nomads during Pauley renovation

UCLA is considering a plan by which it would play home games at several arenas, including the Honda Center and Staples Center, during the 2011-12 season. The Sports Arena is also under consideration, but its proximity to USC could be an impediment.

February 15, 2011|By Ben Bolch and Baxter Holmes
  • UCLA's basketball program could play its home games as far away as San Diego or Bakersfield while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations later this year.
UCLA's basketball program could play its home games as far away as… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Attending a UCLA home basketball game next season could mean driving 130 miles, or venturing to an arena less than a mile from archrival USC.

San Diego's Valley View Casino Center and the L.A. Sports Arena are among six venues UCLA is considering for home games during the 2011-12 season while the interior of Pauley Pavilion is renovated.

UCLA athletics officials recently sent a survey to season ticket-holders and fans who had purchased tickets going back to 2007, asking which venues they would prefer. The other options are Staples Center, the Honda Center, Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario and Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

Mark Harlan, UCLA's senior associate athletic director for external relations, said Tuesday the results would be used to help finalize a schedule within the next few weeks. Though the Sports Arena has offered to stage every Bruins home game, a hodgepodge schedule of multiple venues appears more likely.

"I think without question we're looking at the Bruin road show," Harlan said.

Plans to play home games at the Forum had to be scrapped after the owners of Madison Square Garden purchased the facility and announced plans to turn it into a concert hall.

Other Southern California venues such as Loyola Marymount's Gersten Pavilion were dismissed because of seating capacity concerns, and the Honda Center was viewed as preferable to the Anaheim Convention Center and Long Beach Convention Center in the Orange County-Long Beach region.

The Bruins are considering playing as many as nine games at the Honda Center, three at Citizens Business Bank Arena, two each at Staples Center and the Valley View Casino Center and one at Rabobank Arena. The Sports Arena has offered to spruce up its interior and accommodate 18 home dates, though some might be leery of the 52-year-old facility's proximity to USC. The Bruins played home games at the Sports Arena before Pauley opened in 1965.

"I don't know if I want to be that close to SC," UCLA freshman center Anthony Stover said.

Harlan said transportation would be provided for UCLA students. The women's basketball team is expected to play in the 2,500-seat Wooden Center on campus until renovations to Pauley Pavilion are completed before the 2012-13 season.

Numbers game

USC players were given fact sheets Tuesday about entering the NBA draft.

Junior forward Nikola Vucevic is considering declaring after this season, but says he won't if he isn't projected to be picked high.

"I don't want to be the 55th pick in the draft and sit on somebody's bench," said Vucevic, who is averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds and leads the Pac-10 with 17 double-doubles. "I want to go only when I'm ready."

USC Coach Kevin O'Neill estimated USC (13-12, 5-7 in Pac-10 play) would have only four wins this season without Vucevic, adding that it would be a "huge blow" to next season's team if he left.

With him, O'Neill said, "we'd be a team I think could be very competitive to be a postseason team."


UCLA Coach Ben Howland said the brace on junior guard Lazeric Jones' left thumb has been altered to allow increased movement. Jones has had difficulty passing with his left hand in recent games after spraining his wrist against USC on Feb. 2. . . . Bruins sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt spent Monday rehabilitating his right shoulder after reporting increased soreness in the area. The shoulder started bothering him two months ago after he collided with another player. "That's why a lot of my shots are flat," Honeycutt said, "because I can't get my shoulder up."

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