Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pauley Pavilion Remains a Mecca of College Basketball

By Mike Morrow
The Eureka Reporter

Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion turned 41 years old this month, very much alive and doing better.

But haunted.

It’s haunted by ghosts of champions past and while it may no longer be the mecca of college basketball, it retains a certain mystique.

For years, it was a home away from home between November and February, a place that was more than just a place to scribble a few hundred words two or three times a week.

This is where the Bruin Beasts, forerunners of the Cameroon Crazies, did their thing (“Is thiiiissssss a basketball?” “Yes, that isssssssss a basketball.”), where a young Dick Enberg donned a yellow poncho and sang “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” and where Coach John would tap the floor below his chair three times before the start of every game and then turn to blow a kiss to his Nellie.

So, here are a few memories and a couple words of advice to members of the Humboldt State men’s basketball team, which plays at UCLA on Thursday night:

* When it’s quiet, listen for the squeaking sound of past UCLA players being put through their drills, the constant sliding back and forth and side to side.

* Visiting coaches have often led their players to the court, giving them a walk-through and then returned them to the entrance door and let them do it over again for real.

* The most vivid memory is an almost scary picture of Lew Alcindor, then a UCLA sophomore, soaring high above the visiting team’s basket to barehand an opposition shot attempt.

* The Bruins are good hosts, very good hosts, actually.

* Watch the down stairs that lead to the pavilion. They’re steep and uncompromising, and the walk up has become particularly difficult for members of the opposition.

* Try to time your pregame warm-ups at the same time as UCLA’s. There was nothing worse than having the Bruins take the court when your players are trying to get prepared.

* It’s a no-frills college basketball arena, though the 16-ounce cup of frozen Carnation chocolate ice cream, disguised as a malt, remains a favorite.

* Crowds have averaged almost 10,900 in the 41 years, but there may be less than half that Thursday.

* Who can forget watching the UCLA freshmen beat up on the two-time NCAA champion UCLA varsity team in a preseason warm-up in November 1966? A year later, in his first varsity game, Alcindor had 56 points.

* Jump off U.S. Highway 405 at Sunset Boulevard, go a little more than two miles east to the campus, go a little farther and you’ll run into the real LaLa Land – Hollywood.

* The Sixth Man has returned.

* There’s no swagger or trash talking because the coach is in charge.

* Don’t gawk at the championship banners overhead.

* Show your respect for Coach John Wooden, who may or may not be in attendance. But, don’t gawk.

Though this is an exhibition game and won’t be included in any season statistics, it’s a memorable experience for Humboldt State.

Just enjoy yourself.

(reprinted with permission)

BBR Note: Mike Morrow is a former sportswriter for the Daily Breeze.  While working in Los Angeles he covered the UCLA Bruins from 1967 to 1979 and was a six-time president of the Southern California Basketball Writers Association.



At Nov 10, 2006, 7:21:00 AM, Anonymous Mike Morrow said...

Thanks for the coverage ... you've got a very nice looking page ....
Solid stuff.


Post a Comment

<< Back To Bruin Basketball Report Home