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Time for the next big project: UB needs a basketball practice facility

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https://www.uh.edu/facilities-services/projects/under-construction/basketball-practice-facility/

Sitting back on your laurels is no way to grow an organization. If that were the case we could meet up at K-Mart for the next blue-light special, there is one right across from the Toys R Us, right?

So our field house will be done this spring, and after waiting years for the facility to be built there is a temptation to take a step back and say “look how far we have come”.

But that’s how you lose momentum.

So let’s start pushing for the next thing that UB absolutely needs if they want to keep growing.

Nate Oats and Felisha Legette-Jack have moved Buffalo from “decent-ish mid major” to programs that you have to watch.

UB’s men have been to the dance three of the last four years, knocked off a top 10 Arizona team last year, and is currently ranked 15th in the nation.

UB’s women have been to the dance two of the last four years, including an at-large bid. Last year they made the sweet 16 and even though the graduated a ton of talent they are 6-2 on the year, a rebuilding year.

Next year looks to be a slight rebuilding year for the men, but like the Women of this year, they are stacked with young talent that will keep UB a contender in the conference even with the losses.

The seeds are laid for a truly powerful mid-major school in Buffalo. People are throwing around a “Gonzaga of the East” moniker. While that’s premature, it’s not absurd.

So how do we keep it going?

Oats and Coach Jack recently did an interview with the Athletic (paywall, sorry fam)

Both coaches stressed that to keep moving forward the school needs a stand alone practice facility. Oats went so far as to saw the ceiling for hoops will go as high as the administration wants to make it.

While that’s certainly not a “shot across the bow” to the administration, it is speaking the plain truth. If you want to keep these coaches for the long term, if you want to enjoy being ranked more often, the school needs to build a stand alone practice facility to be shared by men’s and women’s hoops.

Oats’ preference seems to be that the school build a stand alone rec center for students and then you reorganize Alumni around only athletics. Alumni Arena would be more than sufficient to meet the needs were it not also a student rec center.

Jack seems more pragmatic, realizing that such a project, while desirable, is not likely to happen. She opts for a stand alone practice facility for basketball.

The needs

  • Two courts
  • Offices for the coaches
  • A few meeting rooms
  • two locker rooms (one for the men and one for the women)

These are starting to pop up, even in the mid-major ranks. The most recent that I can find was a $25 million project in Houston. I think the Bulls could do it for considerably less by leveraging the infrastructure being built up for the field house.

Some of these types of hoops facilities are getting built in the neighborhood of 10-15 million dollars, depending on the location, land cost, and existing infrastructure involved.

Both coaches, I believe, realize that this will take a bit of time.

As a fan what I would love to see is for the administration to make a very big, and very public, push for this project. In addition to helping out the hoops programs it would free up even more time in Alumni for student recreational activities.

UB will of course have to reach out to the big donors for this, but for this to go up quickly the fan community needs to put some skin in the game. Some big donations by some of the more wealthy athletics alumni along with a glut of small to mid sized donations by the rank and file fan could move this from the drawing board to the construction site rather quickly (compared to the field house).

What UB needs to do is to put out some preliminary designs, and some fund raising targets to the community. Then, go out there and beat the bushes for the big donations and use the platform that UB is now enjoying to reach out to Joe and Jane Bull fan.

The worst thing Athletics can do is work only in the background, afraid that they shoot for the moon and miss.

Nobody ever won a game without taking the shot.

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