Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bruins Become Attraction in China

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bruins Become Attraction in China

Article excerpt

BEIJING --

First came glances and whispers. Commuters could not help noticing a group of strangers -- tall strangers -- squeezing onto their crowded subway car at rush hour.

Then, on the broad expanse of Tiananmen Square, with evening lights twinkling from the Great Hall of the People and the Forbidden City, people grew bolder. A trio of young girls wanted a snapshot. An older couple said hello in halting English.

Wherever the UCLA basketball coaches and players have ventured during the first two days of their trip to China, they have drawn attention in this basketball-crazed city.

"People here take the game really seriously," guard Larry Drew II said. "It's kind of flattering."

Yet the only thing the Chinese people haven't seen out of UCLA so far is much basketball.

The Bruins slogged their way through an abbreviated scrimmage Thursday afternoon, arriving at a converted badminton arena where onlookers sneaked in through side doors to catch a glimpse.

But coach Ben Howland kept the session short, mindful that his players were still weary after a long flight from Los Angeles.

Friday's schedule was filled with sightseeing. If all of this sounds more like a tourist vacation than a basketball trip, that's fine with Howland. For now.

The coach views UCLA's journey east in two ways. …

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