USC's Spectacular Basketball Home: The Galen Center
Dec. 15, 2009
When the Galen Center was nearing completion and ultimately opened onNovember 16, 2006, the slogan 'The Dream Becomes A Reality' was often used to describe how the long-awaited arena was about to finally fulfill what had been talked about for decades...including during Paul Westphal's recruiting trip back in the late 1960s!
That same slogan can still be used as the beautiful state-of-the-art facility is having the effect on the USC basketball program that it was always dreamed it would. You have to look no farther than USC's 40-10 record in the Galen Center entering this season which has helped the Trojans make it to the NCAA Tournament in each season and win 20 or more games for three-straight seasons, both school records.
'I grew up in LA and I watched and played against the Trojans in the L.A. Sports Arena,' said ESPN's Jay Bilas. 'While it's always been 'great to be a Trojan', it's much better now that SC has a homecourt advantage at the Galen Center. It is a great atmosphere and a terrific facility for players and fans. The only complaints are from opposing players. It's much tougher to compete with USC in thier own true home, and the Galen Center is an example of SC's commitment to basketball.'
Already in three seasons, the Trojan program has soared to unprecedented heightsin the win column and into postseason play, but it is much more than that. The facility which is dedicated to the men's and women's basketball and volleyball programs,features a top-tier, fully-equipped weight room, beautiful spacious, carpeted locker rooms, a high-end restaurant, a view from the seats of Los Angeles' skyline and individual practice courts for each team.
'The Galen Center was desperately needed by USC to ensure the Trojans were ascompetitive as any other program in the Pac-10,' said ESPN's basketball expert AndyKatz. 'The Galen Center has to be one of the best on-campus arenas in the country.Over the long term the Trojans will continue to benefit from this first-rate facility.'
During the first three years of Galen Center's existence, not only has USC drawnsome of the top recruits in the nation to play at the arena like O.J. Mayo and DeMarDeRozan, but fans have been treated to some of the top collegiate talent in thecountry as USC's schedule remains one of the most ambitious of all schools.
Already over 30 players who have moved on to play in the NBA have come toUSC's new arena first and honed their skills for the enjoyment of the Trojan fans.Among the players on that long list are Mario Chalmers of Miami, James Hardenof Oklahoma City, Aaron Brooks of Houston, Kevin Love of Minnesota, BlakeGriffin of the L.A. Clippers and Brook Lopez of New Jersey, not to mention USC'sown NBA list of Nick Young of Washington, O.J. Mayo of Memphis, DeMarDeRozan of Toronto and Taj Gibson of Chicago. In fact, the year that Kansascaptured the national title (2008), the Trojans and Jayhawks played a nail-biter atGalen won by Kansas 59-55 which wasn't over until a long three-pointer byChalmers at the end of the shot clock with 20 seconds left.
Some of the other memorable moments have been the senior salute in 2009 in which Ryan Francis' mom was on hand for the festivities to honor her son, who had been inexplicably shot down in his hometown in Louisiana while visiting her for Mother's Day during his freshman season. Francis was never able to play in the Galen Center, but his memory lives on and he still has a locker with his uniform and photo in USC's locker room. Also there were the two 32-point games by Mayo during the 2007-08 season, the 12-game home winning streak at the end of the 2007-08 and beginning of the 2008-09 seasons and even the heartbreaking 65-64 loss to UCLA on Jan. 13, 2007 when Nick Young hit a three-point basket and free throw for a four-point play in the waning seconds to give USC a one-point lead, only to have UCLA's Aaron Afflalo hit a jumper at the end to win it for the No. 4 ranked Bruins.
As the program goes through somewhat of a transition this season, what remains a constant is that USC has one of the finest facilities in the country for basketball and that Trojan fans will reap the benefit of the long-awaited dream becoming a reality.