Bruins treating Vegas as business trip

For two decades, the Big East has staged one of college basketball’s biggest events: a raucous celebration of the sport in its mecca. Could the Pac-12 one day compare?

UCLA coach Ben Howland was enthusiastic about his current conference’s decision to move its postseason tourney to Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, comparing its potential to that of the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden. He led Pitt to victory in that competition in 2003, shortly began coaching the the Bruins.

“People love to go to Vegas,” Howland said. “It’s gonna be happening. This ticket, in this league, three years from now, will be one of the most difficult tickets in the country to get. That’s what you have to have.

“I’ve said this before. You’ve got to have it at the same place every year. People are going five years from now, 10 years from now — they’re used to going. They can’t wait to go. ‘Even if our team loses, we can just hang out and have fun in Vegas. We don’t have to worry about, you know, changing our flight to come back early. Honey, I have to stay here — it would cost more to change our ticket.’”

Howland added that stricter team rules aren’t needed in the face of these extra distractions. The Bruins will need to get right to work as soon as they arrive in Las Vegas, even if their first tipoff isn’t until Thursday at noon. Their prospective opponents — Stanford and Arizona State — play to advance at noon Wednesday, and Howland has scheduled practice accordingly. Start at 1:15 p.m., and the team should know its enemy as it enters game-specific preparation.

“We’re very structured with our time,” he said. “Our guys aren’t going to be running around, hanging out in casinos or anywhere. We’re on a business trip.”

The law — if not Howland’s rules — figures to keep most of the Bruins out of trouble. Among rotation players, only Larry Drew II and the Wear twins are of age to drink or gamble in casinos.

“I’m happy I’m not 21,” freshman Shabazz Muhammad said.

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  • miker%buffspec.com

    There are a bunch of us out here who are also happy you’re not 21, Shabazz.

  • Duarte_Road

    If UCLA is the Pac champions why aren’t they slotted to play the worst seeded team instead of Stanford/ASU winner?

    • cliq

      I think that’s just how play ins work. You assume the higher ranked team will move on, so #1 will face #8, #2 will face #7, #3 will face #6, #4 will face #5

      • Duarte_Road

        I think I figured it out. The seeding isn’t based on conference record but on overall record.

    • Marc

      The way I believe it should work is a re-seeding after the first round games to ensure that the one seed does in fact play the lowest remaining seed. Though, I’m not sure any conference does that, and there’s probably a litany of reasons not to.

  • Mark

    Not quite sure why the tournament is played in a state with no Pac 10 representation. But it’s not like Staples Center was selling out either.

    • maze949

      Not quite sure why you feel the need to b*tch about EVERYthing…

    • Marc

      Staples with 9,000 people is very cavernous, and I’m sure the $$ wasn’t there.

      The figure Vegas has appeal which will bring people out to the tourney, plus 9,000 in MGM’s arena not so cavernous.

      • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

        And your not there. Why?

        • IIWIICUB

          you’re*

  • Marc

    Now we know UCLA will play ASU. Should win, but my confidence in this team isn’t super high. That 7′ center they have was a total non-factor today; watch him have another career day tomorrow.

    Go Bruins!!! Bring fire and intensity to the game. I hope to see you in the championship game, because with no PAC-12 network, ESPN is my only hope.