UCLA Basketball, A necessity for any UCLA student.

One of the must-do experiences for any UCLA student is attending a men’s basketball game in historic Pauley Pavilion. This year Pauley Pavilion underwent an almost 2 year, 180$ million renovation without sacrificing the original structure, making it seem brand new and historic at the same time. There was a lot of hype surrounding the UCLA men’s basketball team after pulling in the #1 recruiting class, and one of the best players in the nation, Shabazz Muhammed and playing in the beautiful renovated arena. So far the team has backed up the excitement after beating two top ten teams. Not only is this year’s team good, but UCLA has had historically one of the best college basketball programs in the nation. After all, this is the home of esteemed basketball coach and UCLA legend John Wooden. Any student that attends a UCLA basketball game is witnessing history and excellence every time they walk into the arena.

UCLA students are lucky to not only to go to games in Pauley Pavilion but they also get the opportunity to sit as close to the action as anybody in the Arena in the court side seats known as “The Den”. However, these tickets are not easy to get, especially not for big games. In order to guarantee a seat, students start camping out for tickets the day before a game. It is quite a sight to see when hundreds of students set up tents and hang out next to Pauley Pavilion the day and night before a game. I have participated in many camp outs, including last week in preparation for a game against cross town rival USC. It is a great opportunity to hang out and bond with friends and other students who are avid fans of UCLA basketball. Some students brought projectors and played video games, while others chose to study or try to sleep. Regardless, the atmosphere at camp outs are very spirited, and should be on any UCLA students bucket list.

Pauley Pavilion Opening Madness

 

Pauley is back!

Pauley Pavilion, our indoor stadium that had been under construction since March 2011, has finally reopened for this year’s basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics season. Thousands of students and parents gathered in the newly renovated stadium to take part in the free Pauley Pavilion Opening Madness Event held last Friday evening. The event was accompanied by the Homecoming festival, which consisted of about 20 carnival-style game booths, five giveaways, and obstacle course races. While waiting for the opening madness to start, my friends and I walked around the festival and eventually ended up with handfuls of candy and glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls in our pockets. The games were pretty fun too. I especially liked the Cupcake Walk booth just because I kept winning and got a bunch of cupcakes.

The event was opened by the UCLA Kyoto Taiko drummers, followed by other performances led by singer India Carney, the Nikkei Student Union Modern dance team, UCLA Marching Band, and UCLA Spirit Squad throughout the night. The best part for me was seeing Joe Bruin dancing to Gangnam Style played by the UCLA Marching Band. Apart from the performances, the student athletes from various sports teams like basketball and volleyball were also introduced to the audience, who praised them with enthusiastic screams and claps that echoed throughout the stadium.

Having never been to the old Pauley stadium, I have no idea how much the stadium has changed, but I know this for a fact: I’m definitely going to basketball games this year.

Go Bruins!

Princeton Ly – UCLA Factor

One of the most awesome things about UCLA is our rich basketball tradition. Alumni of the Four Letters include all-time greats like Kareem (then Lew Alcindor), Bill Walton, Gail Goodrich, Reggie Miller – the list could go on and on.

Our more recent NBA matriculates haven’t done that shabby either. Depending on how you count them, UCLA has between fourteen and fifteen players currently playing in the big leagues, with one more (Malcolm Lee) probably on the way.

Of the fifteen, one is an MVP candidate you should build a team around (Love), one is a bona fide superstar (Westbrook), five are between average and above-average starter material (Afflalo, Ariza, Barnes, Collison, Holiday), and the rest are quality backups and/or good complementary pieces (Davis – in the twilight of his career, Farmar, Gadzuric, Hollins, Honeycutt – this one still has room to grow, Mbah a Moute – this one too, Kapono – amazing player at UCLA, Watson).

All this goes to show that UCLA produces quality basketball players, and despite what may happen in some down years, we will continue to do so. UCLA (and, I suppose, Arizona) make the Pac-12, and everyone knows it. As we go, so goes the conference. As we go, so goes the West Coast.

And that’s how it should be. UCLA forever.

Princeton Ly – Coach

There is only one person in UCLA history that can be known simply by the name “Coach”. That man is Coach John Wooden, famously described by a former player as an “intergalactic treasure“.

The statistics are recited so often that they almost lose their shock value, but here they are again: ten national championships, an eighty-eight game winning streak, four perfect seasons – all the most ever in men’s collegiate basketball history. He coached some of the best ever: Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton, Gail Goodrich, Walt Hazzard, the list goes on and on. Famously and meticulously prepared (he had practices timed down to the minute), unbelievably calm during games (he preferred to sit), and remarkably eloquent (he was an English teacher by training), John Wooden represents everything that a person, and a university, should strive to be.

Coach Wooden’s fingerprints are still all over the campus today. Pauley Pavilion was constructed for him in the 1960’s, and the court therein still bears his name – Nell & John Wooden Court, with his late wife’s name coming first because – well, because that is just how Coach was. His legendary Pyramid of Success, emblazoned prominently on the wall in the Wooden Center lobby, is another testament to his character – each block builds upon another to accomplish true success, defined by the Wizard of Westwood as “peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable”.

All this to say that this post was inspired by UCLA’s plans to further commemorate the memory of our dear Coach by erecting a statue of him next to the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion. When it is finally unveiled, make sure you pay him a visit the next time you are in town. And while you are there, think not only on his accomplishments, but on the values from which they sprung. My favorite?

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

Princeton Ly – On Football

Photo Credit: JM Rosenfeld Photography

Because of some family matters, I could not make the game this past Saturday. But being a good Bruin, I managed to catch it during dinner on one of the restaurant’s televisions – a stroke of extraordinary luck, given most fans probably don’t have the Versus channel.

In any case, it was a great, spirit-rousing win. But only one. As much as I like Neuheisel as a concept – a former Bruin quarterback coming back to revitalize a moribund, underachieving program – he has a 20-26 in Westwood, with 20 of the 26 losses coming by 14 points or more. Sometimes people, even UCLA students, forget that we dominated USC in our “crosstown showdowns” just a handful of years ago. And that’s how it should be, year in and year out. No more settling for mediocrity. UCLA stands for so much more than that.

In any case, there is always basketball to look forward to at UCLA, ha.

Until next game,

Princeton