Kansas University's men's basketball players soon will have a place -- besides their apartments -- to call home.
A new players lounge is under construction at Allen Fieldhouse and set for completion Oct. 11, six days before the start of the 2003-04 season.
The lounge, which will be located in the old training room across the hall from KU's men's basketball locker room, will feature a big-screen TV, sound system, computer and microwave, not to mention comfortable chairs and sofas.
First-year KU coach Bill Self says the facility will give his players somewhere to hang out before and after grueling practices and games.
"The players now and in the future are going to benefit," Self said Tuesday. "In my mind, getting the lounge for the players was something we needed to do.
"When we got here, I was a little surprised. The players had a nice locker room, don't get me wrong, but no place to do anything but change clothes and hang out in the locker room," added Self, who coached at the University of Illinois the past three years.
"We thought a lounge would be a great place to go outside the dressing room to relax, play PlayStation, watch big-screen TV, listen to stereo and still serve as our video room as well."
Most major programs -- certainly all teams with new arenas -- have players lounges.
"I personally feel it's a must," Self said. "At Illinois we were able to sell a nice locker room, lounge and film room that had laptop computers in front of the seats guys could use to take advantage of study situations. Certainly this is a move in the right direction."
The cost for the lounge is in the $150,000 range.¢
Fieldhouse face-lift possible: KU athletic director Lew Perkins told the Journal-World last week he would like to improve the outside look of Allen Fieldhouse.
Two companies have proposed to KU's athletics department ways to make the limestone on the building sparkle for about $100,000.
"It would be basically to sandblast the fieldhouse with no sand," facilities director Brad Nachtigal said. "Basically they (workers) would clean the black residue off the limestone. You sandblast, but without sand, because sand would damage the limestone.
"They would clean it from top to bottom."
Another project in the $100,000 range is improving the men's bathrooms on the first floor of the fieldhouse.
"That would include taking out the rusty urinal troughs and putting in individual urinal stalls and cleaning the piping," Nachtigal said.
Those projects have yet to be given the go-ahead. Perkins said last week he was looking into all possible ways to raise money for such projects.¢
Videoboard on hold: Another item on Self and Perkins' wish list is a videoboard for the fieldhouse.
"I've got to believe that will take place," Self said, noting it would be positive for recruiting and fans.
"You bring in recruits and want to show them the fieldhouse, it's a big seller," he said. "It's just a nice touch for the fans with all the things that can be done on the videoboard. We had one at Tulsa. We didn't have one at Illinois. We never want to take anything away from the feel of Allen Fieldhouse, but think that would definitely be a positive."
KU officials started to look for donors for the scoreboard last school year, but the project, like many others, was put on hold during the switch of athletic directors.¢
Campus visitors: All systems are go this weekend for a pair of campus visits. Alexander Kaun, 6-foot-11, from Melbourne, Fla., originally from Russia, will visit, along with A.J. Price, 6-1 from Amityville, N.Y. Kaun is considering KU, Duke and Michigan State. Price likes KU, UConn, St. John's, Syracuse and others.¢
Coaching USA "outlet" for Williams: Former KU coach Roy Williams told the New York Times that working as an assistant for Larry Brown's U.S. national team the past several weeks has helped him forget his emotional move from Kansas to North Carolina.
"It's provided me with an outlet, that I don't feel I've got to determine a way to make those people at Kansas feel better about me," Williams said. "And it's also provided me an outlet that I don't have to think, 'Gosh, we've lost 36 games the last two years (at North Carolina), haven't been in the NCAA Tournament the last two years.'
"Here it's almost been like an education for me. It's allowed me to dive into the Xs and Os of pro basketball and pick out the little pieces that I think can work for the Tar Heels. I'm writing down notes every night I want to use."