#rushthetrip: Wrapping Up 12 Games, 17 Days and 5,476 Miles on the Road

Posted by Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) on February 25th, 2014

RTC columnist Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) is looking for the spirit of college basketball as he works his way on a two-week tour of various venues around the West. For more about his trip, including his itinerary and previous stops on his journey, check out the complete series here.

They say that all good things must come to an end, and so is the case for my 17-day journey through college basketball’s Western lands. Large cities and small towns alike took turns as temporary homes, while the miles of passing scenery morphed from desert to snowy mountains and back to desert again, with plenty of change in between. The whirlwind ride reinforced the breadth of variety in the towns, arenas, and fan bases that stand behind Divison I’s basketball programs — only further mythologizing the notion of a “typical college town.” They make you work out West (note to future college basketball road trippers: the Heartland will be far kinder to your car’s odometer), but the payoff was worth every exhausting mile. By the numbers and some personal favorites, here’s the story of my trip.

Opening Night Was The Highlight Of This Trip, When The Pit Proved Worthy Of It's Elevated Standing Among The Home Floors Of College Hoops

Opening Night Was The Highlight Of This Trip, When The Pit Proved Worthy Of It’s Elevated Standing Among The Home Floors Of College Hoops

#rushthetrip, By The Numbers

  • Days: 17
  • States: 10
  • Games: 12
  • OT Games: 3
  • Miles Driven: 5,476
  • Distance from Tucson, AZ, to Spokane, WA: 1,494 miles
  • Tickets Received: 2
  • Biggest Arena: BYU (capacity of 20,900, sixth in D-I)
  • Smallest Arena: Sacramento State (capacity of 1,200, 348th in D-I)
  • Most Points (Individual): Stephen Madison, 42 (Idaho)
  • Smallest Margin Of Victory: 1, Boise State over New Mexico
  • Largest Margin Of Victory: 15, Gonzaga over Pepperdine
  • Best Team (by KenPom ranking): Arizona (#1)
  • Worst Team (by KenPom ranking): Southern Utah (#351)

#rushthetrip Favorites

Best Venues

  1. The Pit, Albuquerque, NM
  2. Marriott Center, Provo, UT
  3. McKale Center, Tucson, AZ

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#rushthetrip Day 14: A Year Late to Fort Collins

Posted by Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) on February 20th, 2014

RTC columnist Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) is looking for the spirit of college basketball as he works his way on a two-week tour of various venues around the West. For more about his trip, including his itinerary and previous stops on his journey, check out the complete series here.

Rarely had it been as fun to be a Colorado State basketball fan as it was in 2013. The Rams won 26 games a season ago, including their first in the NCAA Tournament since 1989, and Moby Arena transformed into one of the most impenetrable – and unlikely — home fortresses in all of college basketball. With Fort Collins rallying behind them, CSU sold out three consecutive home games for the first time in program history, and despite a decisive loss in the round of 32 to eventual champion Louisville, the program may never have posted a finer season. Fun times, indeed. But for all the fanfare surrounding that team, my visit to peek in on this year’s team felt doomed to banality from the start. The state of Colorado has never exactly been a haven for college basketball, and with Larry Eustachy now guiding Colorado State through a rebuilding season after that banner 2012-13 campaign, things figured to be pretty quiet in Fort Collins.

The Moby Magic Of 2013 Was Nowhere To Be Found On Tuesday Night

The Moby Magic Of 2013 Was Nowhere To Be Found On Tuesday Night

And they were. Moby Arena was easily less than half-full for a visit from Boise State on Tuesday night, and a steady onslaught of Broncos’ three-pointers prevented the sparse crowd (and the Rams) from ever feeling a part of this game. While I could envision 9,000 fans fleeing the cold winter nights for the comfort of Moby’s Ram-green seats, the apathy of the scene stood in stark contrast to the home floor that we witnessed in Fort Collins a season ago. In all but the most basketball-crazed regions of the country, it’s an expected drop-off in support when 26-9 transforms into 14-13, which is where the Rams find themselves after Boise rolled to a 12-point victory. This doesn’t mean Colorado State – and its fan base – won’t be back in the near future (Larry Eustachy has proven more than capable of building a program), but here in 2014, Fort Collins has slipped off the college basketball radar.

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Paging Our Ophthalmologist…

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2009

Ed. note:  if you have some nominees that we missed, send them to us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or leave it in the comments and we’ll try to get a photo up…

While we were sitting around watching a closer-than-it-should-have-been game between Memphis and Central Florida a couple of weekends ago, it occurred to us that we were spending more time staring at the appallingly hideous UCF Knight plastered onto the middle of the floor.  And when the tv cameras took us to one end of the court, away from the menacing black knight ready to swallow up half of the players, my eyes were forced to contrast their two-tone floor where everything within the three point line was one color (light beige) and everything outside of it, another (beige).   It was horrible.  But our visual disaster is your gain, as it gave us an idea for a neat post comparing the ugliest home floors in America.

Central Florida – UCF Arena

ucf-floor

The first thing we did was contact our loyal RTC correspondents, because who else will know about some abominable court hidden away in the Big Mountain South USA whatever Conference than our guys.  Here are some of their entries:

Eastern Michigan – Convocation Center

It’s never a good thing when you start painting giant basketballs on the court and coloring in the three-point areas.  Never.  A.  Good.  Thing.

emu-convocation-center

Moving to the Big 12, which has not one, but two nominees…

Texas A&M - Reed Arena

We’re uncertain what bugs us about this particular floor, other than the bizarre checkerboard parquet and the enormous outline of the state of Texas in the middle of it.   Yeah, Texas is a big state, but come on…  And the T-star situation isn’t helping – what is that thing??  We thought the A&M logo always had the letters “A” and “M” in it.

reed-arena-texas-am

Baylor – Ferrell Center

This one isn’t all that bad except for one minor major annoyance – unless you’re sitting in the first five rows, who thought it was a good idea to paint the new 3-point line in yellow on a hardwood-colored floor?  Especially when watching Baylor on tv, it’s nearly impossible to track what is a three and what isn’t a three because of that fact (sorry, we haven’t moved to HD in the RTC West Coast Compound yet).

baylor-ferrell-center

Georgia Tech – Alexander Memorial Coliseum

This place has always bothered us – something about the deli mustard borders and the gigantic bee in the middle of the floor.  Why not go with the black/gold setup like Vandy or Wake instead?

georgia-tech-floor

Colorado State – Moby Arena

Oh, Lord, no…  this just can’t be allowed to continue.  The photo isn’t great but you can clearly make out the outline of a ram’s horns all over this court.

moby-arena-csu

Boise State – Taco Bell Arena

But the school that takes the cake, not once, but twice, has to be our blue-turfed friends in Boise.  Both incarnations of their home floor in recent years (the top is their current one) have been downright offensive (the horse heads are bad enough, but we esp. hate the half-basketballs in the corners).

boise-st-1

boise-st-2

Princeton – Jadwin Gymnasium

Honorable mention goes to Princeton, not so much for its floor (which is solid) but for its multipurpose arena known as Jadwin Gymnasium.  The space-age Epcot-style lighting and airport-hangar background there really scares us.   For Chrissakes, they have temporary restraining walls on the sidelines so the ball doesn’t roll into the indoor track/field area.  What a disaster.

jadwin-gymnasium-princeton

jadwin-gymnasium-princeton-2

Reader nominees:

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