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Archive for Thursday, August 27, 2009

Basketball players relishing new space

A few of the Kansas women’s basketball players work out in the new practice facility. The building was opened for a media tour on Wednesday.

A few of the Kansas women’s basketball players work out in the new practice facility. The building was opened for a media tour on Wednesday.

August 27, 2009

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Sights and sounds of new KU basketball facility

An audio slideshow tour of the new KU basketball facility. Photos by Kevin Anderson. Enlarge video

New practice facility for basketball opens

A new practice facility built for the Kansas University basketball teams is now open. The facility features multiple courts and part of the 2008 Final Four court. Enlarge video

360 spherical panorama: KU basketball practice facility

Use your mouse to navigate a 360-degree spherical panorama of the new Kansas basketball practice facility. Enlarge video

Kansas University’s new basketball practice facility is quite a sight.

The center jump circle from the Alamodome floor on which the Jayhawks last won a national championship hangs from one wall, opposite a huge picture window looking out on historic Allen Fieldhouse.

“Kansas Jayhawk Basketball” in the ubiquitous Trajan font runs along the south wall, along with five replica national championship banners, opposite second-floor balconies just off the offices of head hoops coaches Bill Self and Bonnie Henrickson.

But despite the tasty visual treats — luxe playing surface, sharp graphics — the place also tickles the other senses.

Henrickson talked about the “feel” of the place.

Junior Krysten Boogaard is smitten by the smell.

“It smells like new floor,” she said. “It smells like basketball.”

And then there’s C.J. Henry, half of the ballyhooed Henry-brother duo expected to have Self’s men’s team a morning-line favorite for the Final Four who admitted to giving the days-old new digs an aural workout.

One nifty feature of the facility — which opened Monday, and Wednesday was thrown open for a tour by media representatives — is a built-in sound system into which players can plug their own personal music devices.

“There’s a sound system in there so you won’t be in the dark just shooting. We turned it on yesterday,” Henry said.

How’d it sound?

“Too loud,” he said with a smile. “It gets too loud, so they told us we can’t turn it up. It gets LOUD.”

Henry is certain Self will be cool to the tunes, even though it’s Self’s workspace that’s sure to suffer if the Jayhawks turn their iPods up to 11.

“I don’t think he cares as long as we’re not shaking his glass or rattling his cup,” Henry said. “I think he’ll be fine with whatever.”

There’s no word on how the place tastes yet, but all the other senses seem to be covered.

Of course, the facility —to be named in honor of the Forrest Hoglund family, a major donor to the project — was designed for reasons more practical than sensory.

With two basketball teams and a volleyball team vying for limited practice space in just two indoor gyms — Allen Fieldhouse and Horejsi Center — conflicts were common.

“It got complicated when volleyball was in and both basketballs were trying to practice,” Henrickson said. “If we didn’t have this now, with Allen being renovated, we’d really be in trouble. It eliminates the 5:30 workouts.”

Boogaard recalled scrambling to find time for individual shooting sessions.

“They would give us specific times. You’d have a time frame,” she said. “The volleyball team would be in Horejsi. You’d have to shoot from 6 to 8. So you’d have a set time you’d have to come. This way it’s a lot easier. You can kind of come according to your own schedule.”

A critical feature is the court-and-a-half design. The added length means teams can hold, say, full-court scrimmages while individuals shoot on the half court.

“You can get individual work in while they’re playing pick-up,” Henry said. “If you’re not playing, you can get some shots up instead of waiting off to the side for your turn, getting cold. Just more goals, too. Everybody can be doing something so things just run smooth.”

There might be a drawback to the court-and-a-half design, however, should the coaches decide to run full-court drills over the full length. Of course, it could result in the Jayhawks being 50 percent more conditioned.

“Before they got that basket up, before they really thought, they said, ‘It’s really long,’” Henrickson said of her Jayhawks’ initial reaction. “Of course. It’s a court-and-a-half. They said, ‘We’re not trying to implement any new sprint drills, are we?’ Well, not yet.”

The men noticed, too.

“The first time we came up here, the goal wasn’t in the middle of the court, and my brother was like, ‘Man, this court is long,’” C.J. said of brother Xavier. “I’m hoping they don’t make us run the whole court-and-a-half, but I guess they will.”

And then there are the balconies, from which Self and Henrickson can keep a close eye on their charges (only when permitted by the NCAA, of course).

“From coach’s perspective, it’s probably a good thing,” Henry said of the Big Brother oversight. “From our perspective, it’s probably … most players would say it’s a bad thing. But it’s a good thing that he can peek out there and see what we’re doing, see that we’re working hard.”

Henrickson said that she’d done a little more from her perch, to which she joked the secretarial staff is plotting to add a grill and patio furniture.

“I love it. It’s awesome,” Henrickson said of the new digs. “I missed my first two shots off the balcony, though. I’m going to have to work on my H-O-R-S-E shots.”

The practice facility is part of a $42 million donor-financed renovation that includes work on Allen Fieldhouse and its surrounding buildings.

From the players’ standpoint, though, the practice facility is the crown jewel.

“I’ve been in a few,” Henry said. “This, shoot, is the best once I’ve seen. Our weight room is close. It’s just brand new. That’s what stands out to you. It’s just new. It’s first-class.”

Comments

DB Ashton 4 years, 7 months ago

Vinny…

KUAC is nothing more than a workaround and a smokescreen to deflect criticisms like the ones here with which you have disagreement, as well as a systemized tax-avoidance scheme to solicit and encourage donors who get a bigger buzz from games than they do from a quieter, longer-lasting investment our shared future.

Your argument that an investment in intercollegiate athletic success is a net plus to the university as a whole is a familiar one, and it’s an old standby that’s long been the default excuse for this behaviour. Wish it were true. It is not. It’s a myth, disproven by any number of academic and economic studies. You could educate yourself. (Educate? !) Google them.

You like KU basketball? Me, too. Who wouldn’t? But don’t let it turn your head into mush.

Let’s join hands and march down the street together, boasting, “We’re 96!”

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gccs14r 4 years, 7 months ago

Not to mention that the millions that KUAC brings in are spent on KUAC. The University provides the name and the tax haven, but doesn't get anything meaningful in return.

Let's let KUAC stand on its own without the benefit of association with the University in either location, name, or tax status and see how long it lasts fielding a semi-pro ball team. I think the educational institution that is the University of Kansas would fare much better without collegiate athletics than collegiate-level athletics would fare without the University.

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JackRipper 4 years, 7 months ago

Vinny, it is on land that the state owns that ku operates on, see I could care less about all that stuff if they did it on their own land and not leaching off the university. It isn't an independent organization but a separate entity that operates under the university's control. Do you think someone can just come up to the university and start a mcdonalds? Who cares about ku's recognition around the world because people know the imaginary bird is for ku, who cares?! Is that what makes the university that is here for education excel in that role? And do you look at everything in dollars? Are you saying a professor who doesn't make as much as those guys but who is teaching the kids who go off and make the discoveries that let you live longer and make your life better are some how less worthy? It is a state university set up to educate Kansans it is not here to make profits.

You don't seem to recognize when people have the choice of donating money to the university for something related to education and just getting the satisfaction of doing the right thing is competing against donating to athletics and getting better seats and prestige. It is competing for those dollars and if you are around ku you might take a look at how that money built a massive practice field that is (now that the new turf is down in the stadium) seldom used, and yet there are real needs on campus related to educational needs. The university has a say in how the campus grows and hopefully we have a chancellor who won't just let anyone come in and build a really unnecessary facility so they can have their name on it.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 7 months ago

It's stories like this that confirm that the taxes on the wealthiest among us are way too low.

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Vinny1 4 years, 7 months ago

Jack -

Maybe you don't know how the KUAC works. They are an independent entity. The donations never go through endowment, just straight to the Athletic Department. KUAC pays their own electrical bills, pays for the construction of their own buildings, pays the tuition/room and board and other costs associated with scholarships to the University endowment.

If someone donates their money to the Athletic Department that is their decision. If you think money should be spent on the school buildings, you can donate some. I'm sure the University would appreciate it.

If you think the Athletic Department doesn't bring money and publicity to the University you are a fool. In a recent study, the Jayhawk was the second most recognized college mascot worldwide. That is not a result of the education part of KU. All the clothing and merchandise that sells BECAUSE OF athletics, that licensing and sales money goes to the University as well.

Yes, it is hard to look at a single person, such as Bill Self or Mark Mangino and wonder how a single person can make so much money. That is until you realize how much more money they bring into the University and where their salaries come from. They are each making less than 350,000 of state funded money. Professors make half that or more and none of them bring close the amount of money back to the University that either Self or Mangino do.

Before you, or anyone else keep replying to these articles about how the KUAC keeps getting new facilities, or renovations and the "education buildings" are falling apart, you need to realize that everything they built is funded completely separately from the University endowment money.

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JackRipper 4 years, 7 months ago

brian1981 (Anonymous) says… Geez people. The basketball facilities were built with donations from donors who specifically demanded they be spent on basketball. Go blame them for not giving their millions to the School of Engineering. Don't blame our state, university, or basketball program for taking them"

Hey Brian, there's the problem. It is a university. The endowment should only take funds that go to education. The education side of the university shouldn't have to compete for donor dollars that provide a perk like better seating, that isn't the purpose of the university. None of the dollars donated to the sports side should be tax deductible. Corporations that buy the seating and donate should not be able to write off the expense on their taxes. If a sports program is making enough money to pay millions of dollars to their coaches and AD then they should be paying property taxes on all those buildings on state property. KU is a university, not a sports entertainment franchise. If that is what people really want they need to start a professional sports operation. KU is a university, a place for higher learning.

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brian1981 4 years, 7 months ago

Geez people.

The basketball facilities were built with donations from donors who specifically demanded they be spent on basketball.

Go blame them for not giving their millions to the School of Engineering. Don't blame our state, university, or basketball program for taking them.

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JackRipper 4 years, 7 months ago

"nverlost (Anonymous) says… OMG people (above posters) - get out of the little Lawrence (Lib/need to “help” the needy) bubble you love in! This is an incredible facility and it makes me look forward to some great BB years to come. "

Hmmm, nverlost, did it dawn on you that the existence of college basketball at a state university is hardly a conservative operation in the sense it operates in the free market and aren't we told all the time that the basketball scholarships help people who wouldn't have a chance to go to college (even though it isn't the real reason most are here).

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nverlost 4 years, 7 months ago

OMG people (above posters) - get out of the little Lawrence (Lib/need to "help" the needy) bubble you love in! This is an incredible facility and it makes me look forward to some great BB years to come.

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FarmerBoy 4 years, 7 months ago

Mennnnn....would i luv to play some pickup basketball there! Thats awesome!

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JackRipper 4 years, 7 months ago

More signs that America has given up, go ahead China and India, it won't be hard to run circles around us where it matters in a few years, America would rather play.

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Machiavelli_mania 4 years, 7 months ago

Yaeh, this nice site is perhaps the reason why the regents want to cap the enrollment to the States colleges. Blasted expansion and building on campuses. Curse them!

"OH, but bb team needs a practice gym", while the college refuses to educate the less fortunate and and the vast many less "baskeball-attuned".

This college functions totally without foresight.

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gccs14r 4 years, 7 months ago

Meanwhile, Humanities has to have a bake sale for blackboard chalk.

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