After a long overdue absence, EIUpanthers.com returns with weekly blogs. To kick it off we have a list of Hoops Favorites which were mainly thought up sitting on the bus between Cookeville, Tenn. and Jacksonville, Ala. on Friday afternoon during a 7 hour trip through the winter storm. Could not think of any place better than indoors watching basketball at what I consider some of the best venues in basketball.
START WITH THE OVC
Since this is the EIU plays in here is my list of Top 3 venues to watch an OVC hoops game. (So we don't seemed biased anything EIU is not an option)
1. Eblen Center (Tennessee Tech) - has best set up with padded chair back seats all around the venue making for a great seat for every spectator
2. RSEC (Murray State) - the newest facility and the one with the best overall package for hoops
3. Show-ME-Center (Southeast Missouri) - also one of the newer facilities with a good set up.
BEST OVC BANDS
Always part of the game day environment here is my Top 3 for OVC pep bands.
1. Jacksonville State - just like your Main Stream station on your car dial, they play a blend of the 70's, 80's, 90's and today and make all of them sound pretty good.
2. Tennessee State - face it they are just loud. Also you have to give some credit since EIU uses a similar song as them with - I'm So Glad I Go To _____.
3. Murray State - they pretty much play one song - Old Grey Mare - but in a sea of one song band, they play their one song better than the rest.
BEST PLACES I HAVE EVER SEEN A COLLEGE GAME IN PERSON
1. The Pit (Albuquerque, NM) - It is truly one of the loudest venues in America and its always great to hear stories about how visiting coaches have tried to inspire their teams by sprinting up the long tunnel only to be winded by time they reached the visiting locker room.
2. Assembly Hall (Champaign, Ill.) - When the Illini have it going in men's basketball this can become one of the toughest venues in America with the very vocal Orange Krush. On top of that they were one of the first schools to incorporate Zombie Nation (which now seems to be a staple every where in athletics)
3. Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.) - What can you say about spending several cold evenings with 24,000 of your closest friends. The fact that tradition just spills out from the rafters can make it a special place for any hoops fan to visit.
MUST SEE MEN'S BASKETBALL STOPS
1. The Palestra (Penn) - When you talk basketball history no place emits it better than the home of the Penn Quakers at the Palestra. Often called the Cathedral of College Basketball, it also places host to the annual Big 5 Series (denoting the Philadelphia College Basketball City Champion).
2. Cameron Indoor (Duke) - With the Cameron Crazies considered one of the best student organziations in the country this is a must see for basketball fans. Besides Duke is really the Notre Dame of college basketball - you either are a Duke fan or a fan of the school playing Duke.
3. Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas) - One of the birth places of college basketball, Allen Fieldhouse has been hosting college basketball games since 1955. One of the most intimidating things in college hoops in when they get Rock Chalk Jayhawk going. Even ESPN has made a commercial about it.
4. Maples Pavilion (Stanford) - In addition to a nice basketball venue, you will always be entertained by The Stanford Band and the Tree (one of the only college mascots ever to be tossed from an NCAA Tournament).
WOMEN'S VENUES YOU NEED TO SEE
1. Gampel Pavilion (UConn) - When you talk women's basketball two schools dominate the landscape like no other. The first is UConn which routinely plays in front of sold out crowds in Gampel Pavilion located on the Storrs, Conn. campus.
2. Thompson-Boling Arena (Tennessee) - The other program is Tennessee where the UT Orange is easy to identify in any part of the country. Also Lady Vols fans probably follow their team like no other in women's basketball.
3. Sillers Coliseum (Delta State) - If you are true historian of women's basketball you probably need to visit the home of the first women's basketball dynasty in Delta State. Now a Division II power, under legendary coach Margaret Wade, Delta State won three straight AIAW National Championships in the 1970's that helped put women's basketball on the map.