Pauley Pavilion was rocking on the evening of Friday, Nov. 2. That’s when 10,000 UCLA students and 1,300 parents — on campus for Parents’ Weekend — gathered at 8:30 p.m. to attend "Pauley Opening Madness," an early look at the renovated facility hosted by UCLA Recreation.
Students enjoy what they're seeing on Pauley's new video scoreboard.
Buzzing with anticipation, the enthusiastic crowd settled into Pauley’s new blue seats and enjoyed nearly two hours of music, dance and basketball in a program co-emceed by Sean Farnham, a former Bruin basketball player and current ESPN analyst, and Traci Buchholz, a UCLA Dance Team alumna. The evening began with entertainment provided entirely by UCLA students, including the Kyodo Taiko drum group, NSU Modern dance troupe and vocalist India Carney.
A series of "welcome home" videos were shown on the brand-new video scoreboard, including one from former Bruins/current NBA starting point guards Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison. Another video commemorated important events that had taken place in Pauley through the years, while a fun video featured a crowd of people, including several famous Bruins, dribbling a basketball through L.A. streets to new Pauley.
Representatives from the UCLA Spirit Squad and The Den (UCLA’s student section) took to the court to instruct the crowd in some of UCLA’s favorite traditions, such as the eight-clap and the popular "Is This a Basketball?" cheer.
Sean Farnham and Traci Buchholz served as emcees.
The night also served as a way to highlight the five UCLA teams that will return to compete in Pauley: men’s and women’s volleyball, gymnastics, and men’s and women’s basketball. From their seats in the arena, Men’s Volleyball Head Coach John Speraw and Gymnastics Head Coach Valorie Kondos Field described their joy at being back in Pauley and introduced their respective teams. Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Mike Sealy videotaped a message on behalf of his team (on the road against Arizona and Arizona State).
Of course, the main event of the evening was basketball. The crowd cheered as members of the women’s and men’s teams were introduced, along with Men’s Head Coach Ben Howland and Women’s Head Coach Cori Close. The teams then competed head-to-head in a series of spirited competitions, including a three-point shootout that was won by freshman Kari Korver of the women’s team. She sank 12 of 15 shots, beating fellow freshman Jordan Adams of the men’s team.
Freshman guard Jordan Adams (No. 3) tries his best in the three-point shootout ...
Junior forward David Wear and junior guard Thea Lemberger teamed up with a student from the crowd to win the "Supershot" contest, which required each of them to hit a different shot — a lay-up, a free throw and a three-point basket — in a timed competition. And the two-person team of sophomore guard Norman Powell and freshman guard Nirra Fields won a dunk contest, judged by a panel that included former Bruins/NBA players Toby Bailey and Marques Johnson and former Bruin/WNBA player Lisa Willis.
The evening was capped off by a rousing performance by the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, Joe and Josephine Bruin, and the UCLA Spirit Squad, who led the crowd in one final, resounding eight-clap.
... but loses to freshman guard Kari Korver, who is hoisted aloft by her teammates.
After the program ended, many students lingered, seemingly reluctant to leave the building. Christopher Lee, a senior physics major, was pleased that the arena hadn’t changed drastically. "I just love the feel," he said. "It feels like the old Pauley. It looks nicer, but the feeling is the same, so it’s awesome."
Senior English major Ijeoma Mordi was very happy with the new seats, calling them "really, really comfortable," while her friend Regan Patterson, a senior chemical engineering major, said the best thing about new Pauley was the feeling she got when she saw the retired jerseys on the wall, the banners hanging from the rafters and the new video scoreboard in the middle of the ceiling.
"You feel more pride when you walk into this new Pauley, especially the front entrance, which shows each of the championships and the images of each sport. It’s just like, ‘Wow!’ when you first walk in," she said.
For members of the men’s basketball team, who last season were forced to play their home games in the old Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena near USC, the wait for new Pauley was worth it. "It’s an awesome venue, especially seeing it like this, game-ready, with all the fans out here," said junior forward Travis Wear. "It’s amazing compared to what it was before."
"The renovation process took a long time, but it’s great to be back," added sophomore guard Norman Powell. "I know old Pauley had a lot of tradition, a lot of history, John Wooden’s national championships and volleyball championships. But this new facility will start a new era of UCLA basketball."