The UCLA basketball team will have to make do without a true home court this season because of the renovation project underway at Pauley Pavilion, but that doesn't mean they are happy about it.
Center Joshua Smith was not all that impressed with the Sports Arena, where the Bruins will play 14 home games this season. After visiting the downtown arena for the first time last week, Smith complained that it was too old and too close to UCLA's crosstown rival USC.
"It was funny because when we were going over there I didn't know what to expect," Smith said. "I'd just heard about it. I'd never seen it, I'd never been there. When we walked it was like, I thought we were on the set for a Hoosiers movie or something like in the 1980's or something. It just seemed old."
That became even more apparent when he got to the locker room and sat in a chair to change clothes.
"You sit on the chairs in the locker room and dust and dirt is coming off the chairs," he said.
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.'"
Peter Yoon covers UCLA for ESPNLosAngeles.com.