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UCLA basketball: Are Bruins needlessly huffing and puffing?

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UCLA Coach Ben Howland recently voiced concerns about his team's conditioning, saying the Bruins "were really sucking air" as the result of practicing on a high-school length court inside the men's gymnasium on campus while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations.

Here's the thing: UCLA has a regulation court available to practice on and isn't using it.

School spokesman Ryan Finney said the Bruins are not using the Wooden Center, which features a college-length court and will be used by the women's team for its home games this season, because of two factors: difficulty coordinating practice times with student workouts and intramurals, as well as Howland's preference for holding closed practices.

If the Bruins practiced at the Wooden Center, Finney said, they would not be able to close the facility to other students.

Asked Sunday after UCLA's 80-72 exhibition victory over Cal State San Bernardino if he thought his team's conditioning had improved from its closed scrimmage against Cal State Fullerton, Howland said: "I thought our guys were really excited. I thought Reeves [Nelson] got tired early in the game because sometimes you have the adrenaline flowing so much. Everybody was kind of like that to start the game. I think our conditioning will continue to get better as we keep pushing it, but I don't want to overdo it either."

Nelson said the Bruins had taken measures to improve their conditioning, including extra running in practice to make up for the shortened length of the court inside the men's gym.

No. 17 UCLA opens its season Friday night at the Sports Arena against Loyola Marymount.

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-- Ben Bolch

Photo: UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has his shot blocked by Cal State San Bernardino's D.J. Shumpert in the first half Sunday during an exhibition game in Ontario. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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