EUGENE, ORE. - The Washington Huskies got their first look at Oregon's new Matthew Knight Arena on Friday.
And standing on the edge of its distinctly painted court, coach Lorenzo Romar revealed that UW is closing in on a major improvement to its own basketball complex.
“We are seriously looking at ... a new practice facility that will house our offices and the weight room and everything,” he said. “It will be a nice improvement. I wouldn’t change our gym; I love our gym. I love how it’s set up, I love the whole thing. But there are things we’re looking to improve upon, and I think we’ll get it done.”
Romar said the addition would be adjacent to Hec Edmundson Pavilion, perhaps around the area of the existing aquatics facility to the east or the Marv Harshman practice court to the north.
It would include a court reserved for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, and it would conveniently cluster locker rooms, training rooms and study and relaxation areas.
“It’s like a second home,” Romar said. “I think a place like that nowadays is something that really helps your program, but it also helps your recruiting.”
Romar said the addition is not a direct response to the Pacific-10 Conference’s newest and flashiest arena, which opened last month on the Oregon campus.
“Our competition isn’t necessarily Oregon,” he said. “It’s on a national scale. If we only recruited in Portland or in the state of Oregon, that would be one thing. But we recruit a lot of different places. Often times we’re going against Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and places. Oregon has as fine of facilities as there are. But there are other places that have them, too.”
On Friday, the Huskies practiced for the first time at the new Matt Court (as it’s being called). It’s big. It’s comfortable. It smells like a new car.
But the Huskies were restrained in their praise of the place where they will play for the first time this afternoon.
“Obviously, it’s a great arena; I’m not saying it’s not,” senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning said. “But the court’s the same length; the basket’s the same height.”
The court, however, is not the same color.
Even fans familiar with Oregon’s various football uniforms might not have anticipated what the school came up with for its new basketball court.
The painted depiction of an orange and brown forest rings the entire court in tribute to the literal forests of Oregon and to the Ducks’ “Tall Firs” NCAA basketball champions of 1938-39.
“I know the floor looks better than it did on television,” Romar said. “Actually from here the floor looks good.”
The main arena and court were all the Huskies got to see as they practiced for today’s 1 p.m. meeting with the Ducks.
They didn’t get to see the visiting locker room.
They also missed most of the state-of-the-art touches you’d expect from an Oregon facility with “Knight” in its name (it is named after the late son of Nike chairman Phil Knight).
The footprint of the place is four times the size of old Mac Court, which it replaced. It has about 3,000 more seats.
The number of bathrooms jumped from four to 18. The concourses grew from 10 feet across to 23. Concession stands multiplied from five to 15. The number of obstructed-view seats shrank from 1,950 to zero.
The new building includes four so-called “bunker suites,” which don’t look into the arena but are available for gathering before and after games. Serving similar but less private purposes are the McArthur and Founders clubs, where boosters can gather before, during and after games.
For the players, there are comfortable locker rooms in close proximity to the weight room and spa areas.
That, however, is not what the Huskies are interested in this weekend.
“The rims were bouncy,” shooting guard C.J. Wilcox said after practice. “A lot of shots should go in.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 More reaction and a picture of the Oregon basketball court are available at blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports
WASHINGTON (15-6 OVERALL, 7-3 Pac-10) AT OREGON (11-11, 4-6)
1 p.m., Matthew Knight Arena; Eugene, Ore.
TV: FSN. Radio: 950-AM.
Series: UW leads, 183-103. The Huskies won the previous meeting, 87-69, Jan. 6 in Seattle. UW has won the last two in Eugene and hasn’t won three straight there since 1980-82.
Statistical leaders: For UW – Isaiah Thomas, 16.7 ppg and 5.8 apg Matthew Bryan-Amaning, 8 rpg. For UO – Joevan Catron, 15.8 ppg and 6.6 rpg; Malcolm Armstead, 3.6 apg.
Scouting report: This will be Washington’s first appearance in Oregon’s new Matthew Knight Arena. The game is sold out. ... The Ducks are coming off of a 69-43 win over Washington State on Thursday. That was Oregon’s largest margin over a Pac-10 opponent since 2006. Oregon has won four of its last six games under new coach Dana Altman. ... UW has lost back-to-back games at WSU and Oregon State. ... Despite coach Lorenzo Romar’s unhappiness with his team’s defensive effort at OSU, he said there will be no lineup changes today. ... Oregon has passed UW to take over the Pac-10 lead in turnover margin. The Ducks are second in steals and free-throw percentage. ... Thomas is third in the league in scoring, Catron is fifth. Armstead is third in steals. ... Oregon’s Jeremy Jacob wasn’t in uniform against the Cougars because of pain in his left knee. His status for tonight is uncertain. Freshman Johnathan Loyd also is questionable after taking a fall in the game against WSU.
Next: 6 p.m. Thursday, vs. California, Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Don Ruiz, staff writer