SHANGHAI — Workmen scurried onto the court just before tipoff. A stanchion had broken loose from one of the baskets, and the nets were slipping off both rims.
It was hardly an encouraging sight for Jordan Adams, a UCLA freshman who was eager for the start of his team's exhibition game against Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
"I was like, 'Can we hurry up and get this thing going?'" Adams recalled.
By the time Monday night's game finally started — an hour late — the Bruins had come to expect the unexpected during their weeklong swing through China.
When they arrived Thursday, their practice court in Beijing desperately needed mopping. The locker room for their first game, at Tsinghua University, was actually a conference room with padded chairs and a long wooden table.
There have been schedule delays and a minor bus accident over the last few days. When they finally started playing at SJTU, the game clock kept skipping ahead.
"It helps us deal with adversity," Coach Ben Howland said. "We're just rolling with it."
Adams certainly adjusted, scoring five of the Bruins' first seven baskets in a 72-31 victory. His game-high 20 points made up for a disappointing debut against Tsinghua several nights earlier.
"My first college game wasn't so good," he said. "I didn't want to have another bad one."
Once again, UCLA rebounded and ran the court at will against an opponent not skilled or quick enough to keep pace. Sophomore guard Norman Powell scored 13 points and forward Travis Wear had 12.
The outcome was all but decided with a 12-0 run in the final minutes of the second quarter, a string of fastbreak baskets contributing to a 44-14 halftime lead.
"I'm just really pleased with the way we shared the ball," Howland said. "It even got to the point where we were over-passing."
The coach has remained relatively calm through all the glitches, somewhat surprising for a man who — to say the least — likes things orderly.
He might have reacted differently if this were a trip to the Oregon schools in the middle of the conference season. But here in China, where basketball is wildly popular, the college game is still developing.
Officials with the Federation of University Sports of China have been eager to make a show of UCLA's visit, giving speeches and arranging for cultural performances before each game.
When the Bruins showed up at SJTU, a police car with flashing lights led the team bus across a vast campus where colorful banners hung on either side of the road.
"You can see this is important to them," Howland said. "And the fans have been great."
After two games against university teams, the Bruins will face the Shanghai Sharks — a professional club co-owned by former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming — on Tuesday.
With a history dating to the early 1950s, the Sharks won China's national championship in 2001-02 and reached the semifinals of the Chinese Basketball Assn. playoffs two seasons ago.
Against UCLA, they could be somewhat depleted, playing without several Americans and Chinese national team members normally on their roster. Still, the matchup should be tougher.
"They've got size and length and they can execute," Howland said. "They're well-coached."
The game will be played at Shanghai Yuanshen Sports Center. Another pregame show is on the schedule and another boisterous crowd is expected to attend.
Beyond that, the Bruins have no idea what to expect.