Friday, April 8, 2011

Back to Figueroa and 45th

It was announced this week that the UCLA basketball team will play its home games next season at the old L.A. Memorial Sports Arena while Pauley Pavilion is being renovated. The Bruins were once tenants of the old building with the circular blue facade that was built to host the 1960 Democratic Convention. By today's architectural achievements, it is a rather sterile and dull-looking facility compared to the deluxe Staples Center or even the Roman-columned Forum in Inglewood. But in its day, the Sports Arena was the leader in modern basketball arenas.
The Sports Arena sits next to the Coliseum at 45th and Figueroa streets. UCLA played its games there before Pauley Pavilion opened in the mid-60s, and it was home to USC's basketball team until the Galen Center opened. The old arena is the site of one of the greatest USC-UCLA basketball games ever played and quite possibly John Wooden's greatest coaching effort.
The date was Feb. 6, 1971. USC was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. It was Coach Bob Boyd's best team, made up of such stars as Paul Westphal, Mo Layton, Ron Riley and Dana Pagett. UCLA had one loss and was ranked No. 2, the defending national champions composed of All-American Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Steve Patterson and Henry Bibby.
The Trojans led at the half by one point, then opened up a nine point lead with less than 10 minutes to go. Wooden called time out and uttered one of his most famous lines, "Be quick, but don't hurry," urging his quintet to be patient and not to try to get the lead back all at once.
Aided by Trojan turnovers and the all-around play of Wicks and Rowe, UCLA whittled down USC's advantage. The Bruins took control of the game by grabbing a 62-60 lead and held on to win 64-60 before a sellout crowd of just under 16,000.


add Wooden: At that time, there was no shot clock, so holding onto the ball, or "stalling" as it was called, was part of the college game. Wooden was against this tactic but UCLA used it against USC that night when the Trojans went into a zone defense. With the game on the line, UCLA held the ball for three minutes, making no effort to score a basket until USC went back to a man-t0-man.

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