Saturday, October 14, 2006

USC Football Game Day: Galen Center Opening

As a true and authentic USC Trojan, I don’t know a lick about basketball. I have attended a few games at the Sports Arena, and I followed the b-ball team in 1992 when we got a No. 2 seed in the tournament and lost to Georgia Tech on a miracle shot in the second round. (Whatever happened to Harold Miner, aka Baby Jordan, anyway?) But, I really don’t care much about Trojan hoops.

Admittedly, I’m probably a fair-weather basketball fan, because I did attend the 2001 Eastern Regional Finals in Philadelphia when we played Duke. The Blue Devils eventually won the Tournament that year with Jason (Jay) Williams, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, et al. My father-in-law declined to join me, so I drove down myself without a ticket and scalped a single (for face value 45 minutes before tip off) from some nerd in a Princeton sweatshirt.

The seat was great, about midway between center court and the baseline above the luxury boxes … smack dab in the middle of some 50-something, blue-blooded Blue Devils. Dressed like respectable southerners in blue polo shirts and loafers (wives done up and wearing pearls) these people took themselves and their basketball very seriously. They were polite and nice enough, but these Dukies were cold as ice with me, even when their team had the game well in hand.

My least favorite part of the experience was hearing the liberal use of the word “boy” in reference to the African-American players. All night I heard it from the Duke fans, with a drawl. After a Boozer turnover: “That boy better shape up. Come on, boy!” After Williams hit a three: “Man, that boy can shoot!” When Mike Dunleavy (a white kid) drove the lane: “Man, he knows how to play, don’t he?”

They seemed like proper people, but I got the impression these Dukies were talking at their players more than rooting for them. Maybe it was my own regional bias, having grown up in the West and living in the Northeast, but I got the feeling these people were using “boy” only to replace a more derogatory term.

But, I digress …

After what has been apparently more than a century in the making, USC’s Galen Center opened Thursday night. Again, being a real USC Football fan I’m ignorant about these issues, but this is supposedly a big deal. Our b-ball coach – some fat guy by the name of Rick Ma… what? Oh, okay … some guy named Tim Floyd – has been quoted as saying this Galen Center is so awesome it could win us a national championship. I’m not sure how that works, but it sounds good to me.

Mr. Floyd must know what he’s talking about, because the Galen Center has ugla circling in a typical defensive attack. Having been cornered into another “Dump Dorrell” movement, the baby blue is switching sports not even half way through this football season. I don’t really understand all the “cager” talk from Westwood, but if this new building puts ugla’s panties in a bunch, I’m all for it.

Then again, just how powerful is this new campus jewel if our No. 4-ranked women’s volleyball team lost to Stanford on the building’s opening night? Perhaps the Galen Center only works for basketball? Maybe there is more to winning a national championship in basketball than just building a new $100 million arena. But, who am I to question Mr. Floyd?

In any case, the Galen Center does look beautiful, and it will add much to the USC experience of students and alumni, as well as the stature of the campus. It certainly is a proud moment for our alma mater, and Mike Garrett in particular.

But, in fact, the most important benefit of the Galen Center is its abundance of new facilities for USC men’s and women’s volleyball and basketball. Their new offices, locker rooms and workout equipment at the Galen Center means there will be much more room for the USC Football program at Heritage Hall.

Now, that’s something to celebrate!

Beat the Sun Devils!
east coast bias

No comments: