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UCLA's new Pauley Pavilion ready for its close-up

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UCLA's new Pauley Pavilion ready for its close-up

LOS ANGELES (AP) Something old is nearly new again at UCLA.

Pauley Pavilion - where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Reggie Miller and Kevin Love starred and John Wooden coached for 10 years - has gotten a major facelift.

In a city where appearance is everything, the 47-year-old arena is ready for its close-up.

The Bruins honor their championship past and address the future in the $132 million renovation to be unveiled on Nov. 9 when they host Indiana State in their men's basketball season opener.

After spending last season on the road, splitting home games between the aging Los Angeles Sports Arena and Honda Center in Anaheim, coach Ben Howland is thrilled to be back on campus.

``It is like a brand new building,'' he said. ``It's going to be great for the next 50 years.''

Construction began as UCLA was wrapping up its basketball season in March 2010 and the arena closed the following spring.

Capacity was increased by 1,000 seats to 13,800, with just under 10,000 season tickets sold for men's basketball. Unlike the windowless original design, the new exterior is mostly glass. Students won't have to make a mad dash to claim seats for men's basketball anymore. They can now sit in three sections closer to the court. The majority of bench seats that pulled out on the floor level have been replaced by chair-back seats with cup holders. The team benches have switched to the opposite side of the building.

``We have vastly improved the sightlines,'' said Ken Weiner, the senior associate athletic director who oversaw the project that has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate.

Except for a new lighting system installed in 1990 and the addition of a video scoreboard in 1999, the building had undergone few changes in the years since Wooden patrolled the sideline with a rolled up program in his hand. Other than the times he sat behind the Bruins bench before his death in 2010, there was no evidence of him in the old arena, but that has changed.

A statue of Wooden was set to be dedicated outside the north entrance on Friday. The corridor on the east side of the building has been named Wooden Way, and three large cabinets will be filled with mementos of the Wooden era that includes 10 NCAA championships - seven in a row - during his 27 years at the helm in Westwood. The wood surrounding the cabinets was taken from Pauley's old floor, named John and Nell Wooden Court in 2003.

Wooden's gold-upholstered seat behind the bench stands out in contrast to the other seats covered in various shades of blue. Seat 6 in Row B is part of his family's allocation, allowing them to control who sits there.

The blue-and-gold banners representing UCLA's record 11 national titles will hang in the rafters over the court.

Much of the renovation involved bringing the arena up to current building codes - with new aisles, steps and the addition of handrails. There are three elevators now instead of one and an LED ribbon board was installed. There are four times more women's restrooms and 2 1/2 times more for men. National chains will have a presence inside for the first time, while an outdoor food area will be maintained with the addition of food trucks during games.

The arena's footprint was extended 40 feet on the north side, where the main entrance was moved. Just 70,000 square feet were added in the project, while another 250,000 square feet were renovated. Graphics on the concourse walls are a nod to UCLA's storied past, and a wall lists all 108 championships won by the school's teams. The building is home to men's and women's basketball, men's and women's volleyball and women's gymnastics.

``When you walk into the facility, you know it's Pauley Pavilion,'' athletic director Dan Guerrero said, noting the project came in $4 million under budget. ``It has that same feel but all that pop and sizzle allows us to clearly say it's the new Pauley Pavilion.''

UCLA's wealthiest donors can join the downstairs Pavilion Club for $25,000 per season during men's basketball games. With room for 300 people, it's the only place in the building that will sell alcohol and it features three TVs and two projection screens.

The men's and women's basketball locker rooms have been moved downstairs, while opponents will take over UCLA's old locker room on court level.

Players can stash their gear in cherry wood lockers, with outlets to charge their electronics. They'll sit on black padded chairs with UCLA stitched on the back rest. Above the lockers, players' names, jersey numbers and hometowns are on lighted panels, something they asked for, Weiner said. The floor is covered in dark blue carpet inlaid with `UCLA Bruins.'

``Wow, what a difference 40 years makes,'' said Jamaal Wilkes, who starred with Walton on UCLA's national title teams in 1973 and '74.

Next to the locker area is the players' lounge with cushy sofas and a large-screen TV. The arena has a weight room for the first time, keeping players on the premises instead of having to walk outside to another building.

``This is a player-friendly experience,'' Wilkes said. ``The quality of the locker room and projector room, it would motivate players to want to be successful here.''

Howland said he didn't tour many of UCLA's recruits through the old locker room. Now, he said, ``we'll take everyone in there.''

``It definitely was a bummer playing in the Sports Arena last year,'' forward David Wear said. ``With Pauley opening up, I realize how exciting it is to be back on campus.''

On the walls of the hallway leading to the court, UCLA honors its players who were All-Americans, made the NBA or had their jersey retired. Wilkes pointed to his photo in two locations on the wall during a recent tour.

``They preserved the legacy and made a quantum leap into today in a classy way,'' he said of the renovation.

Down the hall from the locker rooms is a 24-seat video room. Previously, coaches and players watched video in the middle of the locker room on a small monitor.

Pauley Pavilion - named for former regent and chief donor Edwin Pauley - opened in June 1965. Guerrero said the school is looking into a future naming rights deal. The Pauley family has been supportive of the renovation and gave the first donation unsolicited.

Asked his favorite memory of the old building, Wilkes smiled and replied, ``Winning.''

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."

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