Tyus Edney, former Bruins point guard, is serving as an assistant to Coach… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
SHANGHAI — The baggage claim area at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport offered just enough room for Tyus Edney to conduct a quick basketball clinic.
The UCLA assistant was trying to show players why they had been called for traveling during an exhibition the previous night in Beijing.
Under international rules, he explained, officials won't let you take a first step without dribbling.
"Are you serious?" swingman Jordan Adams asked.
Adams had been called for traveling no fewer than three times against Tsinghua University.
"Look," Edney told him, demonstrating the move amid travelers already curious about the towering Americans in their midst. "You've got to dribble right away."
With the Bruins scheduled to play Shanghai Jiao Tong University on Monday night — their second exhibition in a three-game swing through China — adjusting to a different set of rules has been a minor but occasionally annoying problem.
A wider lane keeps big men farther from the basket. The 24-second clock speeds things up and players can inbound a dead ball immediately.
The definition of goaltending is looser too, allowing defenders to swat the ball directly off the rim.
Though Coach Ben Howland mentioned these nuances to his team, he chose not to focus on them for the sake of three games against opponents that UCLA could probably defeat under any set of rules.
"We're just going to play," he said.
On Sunday, with his team coming off a night game and catching a two-hour flight the next morning, Howland decided to cancel a scheduled afternoon practice.
The coach preferred that his players hang around their downtown hotel for a few hours before heading out for dinner and a nighttime boat cruise on the Huangpu River. That way they might be better rested for the game Monday.
Shanghai Jiao Tong ranks among China's elite universities and has one of the world's best engineering schools. It also has something of a basketball tradition.
The men's team has competed on the international scene for years, winning Asian tournaments along the way. The women's program has been equally successful.
Still, the college game in China remains largely undeveloped, with most top athletes funneled into the sports academy system when they are young. The best prospects end up playing for the national team instead of enrolling at a university.
As evidenced by the 116-68 victory over Tsinghua on Saturday, UCLA's greatest concern this week could be those pesky rules.
Even as the bigger, faster Bruins ran past their opponents for easy baskets, they grew frustrated by traveling calls. At one point, Adams looked at the bench and raised his hands in the air, bewildered as to why the official had blown the whistle on him yet again.
"I wasn't mad," he said. "I just didn't know."
Edney could relate.
The former Bruins star is famous for the 4.8-second dash he made against Missouri in the second round of the 1995 NCAA tournament, a game-winning basket that propelled his team to a national championship.
After several years in the NBA, he played for almost a decade overseas, making stops in Italy and Greece among other countries. It took him awhile to adjust.
Now serving as UCLA's director of basketball operations, he seized the opportunity to educate several of the Bruins while they waited for their luggage in Shanghai.
He showed them how to use jump stops and crossover moves as an alternate way to start toward the basket. It was an abbreviated demonstration, given the crowds of people standing around.
Still, he wanted them to know.
"International rules can make a big difference," he said. "You've just got to figure it out."