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Candid Coaches: Which arenas boast the best home-court environments in college basketball?


CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander surveyed nearly 100 coaches for the annual Candid Coaches series. They surveyed everyone from the head of the elite program his coach to an assistant at a small Division 1 school. In exchange for complete anonymity, these coaches provided unfiltered honesty on many topics.

If you were to put together a list of what college basketball is best at—the characteristics, quirks, and elements that make the sport great—at the top of such a list would be the majesty and spectacle of the NCAA tournament. But, as far as I can tell, No. 2 is a frenetic and intoxicating setting for so many of the sport’s prized venues. Not just the arena experience, but how that excitement translates to television is one of college basketball’s viable selling points for the NBA.

There are well over 100 barns, each with their own character, majesty and history that sets them apart. Of all these mesmerizing hoop theaters, which one ranks best? People who have gone through the ups and downs of being in these buildings for years, more than half their lives There’s no better group to ask questions than people, coaches.

Let’s see what they had to say. When we asked, each coach voted for was asked to submit their top three…

Which arena in college hoops has the best environment?

Tier 1

Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas): 67.3% of all votes
Cameron Indoor Stadium (duke) 50.5%
McCarthy Athletic Center aka The Kennell (Gonzaga) 27.4%

Tier 2

McKee Arena (Purdue) 15.8% of all votes
McKale Center (Arizona) 15.8%
meeting place (Indiana) 10.5%
wrap arena (kentucky) 10.5%

Tier 3

Breslin Center (Michigan) 8.4% of all votes
Koch Arena aka The Roundhouse (Wichita) 8.4%
Neville Arena (auburn) 7.4%
United Supermarket Arena (texas tech) 7.4%

Schools appearing on at least four ballots: Grand Canyon, Arkansas, Butler, VCUs, Tennessee, Dayton
Schools appearing on at least three ballots: BYU, Illinois, Iowa, providence, San Diego

outstanding quotes

at Allen Fieldhouse

  • “I know a lot of mid-level head coaches who have nightmares about that place.”
  • “History scares you and officials always find ways to trick you.”
  • “We played there, we kept the game, we were in the game, it turned into halftime and the crowd took over more than in Kansas. They had a huge impact on the outcome of that game and I was like, ‘Holy– –, this is all bullshit We worked out and went to the gym We got there an hour and a half early It was freezing cold with snow on the ground. “like.
  • “Allen Fieldhouse is a treasure. When you walk by the Hall of Fame, walk past the fans on your way from the locker room to the floor, and step onto that floor and think of its history, there’s something about it. And there is At this point, chants of “rock chalk” echo through the arena. This is what basketball should be.

at Cameron Indoor Stadium

  • “The size of the building and the students make it really difficult. It feels like everyone is just on top of you. It also helps that you always have a great team to cheer for.”
  • “I think the noise level is great. The chants are tuned, people are right above you and it feels very contained and tight compared to big big arenas like Yum! Center. Very quaint and can get very loud..”

in the kennel

  • “They built it right. It’s the perfect size. The students are wild. I don’t blame[Kentucky coach John Calipari]for not wanting to play there. It’s Madhouse.”
  • “When you travel far to play with them, it’s a really long way to get your butt kicked. The fans feel like they’re on top of you.”
  • “When they played ‘Zombie Nation’ before tip-off, it’s one of the best student section hype songs I’ve seen. It got loud and really rocked the arena. ”

at McKee Arena

  • “I think it’s the best vibe in the country when the Mackey Arena is shaking. Basically freshmen pee on their feet where it’s shaking.”
  • “Loyalty, family vibe. Really has that state-of-the-state basketball nostalgia vibe. Lots of people crammed into a small space. One of the loudest gyms in the country. Intimidating.” ”
  • “I love the atmosphere of the old days. The set up is weird, the students sit behind benches at weird angles. I always liked the place.”

On McKale Center

  • “The fact that they stand until you score makes it a game within a game. You have to get the old timers ASAP.”
  • “Basketball fans are really good in the sense that they are brutal to the team behind the bench. ”

About the meetinghouse

  • “When Indiana is at its best, nothing beats over 17,000 people on board. I was there when the building really started to shake.”

in the rap arena

  • “20,000 no matter who it is. Loud and passionate.”

at the Breslin Center

  • “I can’t hear myself thinking. The noise from the audience, especially the student section in the back, is deafening. Their coach coaches with passion and their audience is part of him and his team.” ”

At the Koch Arena:

  • “Whether it’s a win, a loss or a draw, there are 10,000 fans out there. The fans are noisy. increase.”

best of the rest

texas tech: “Fans are passionate and angry. Great for home environment, but not a great visitor experience. Most underrated venue in college basketball.”

auburn: “Although it’s small, it’s very difficult to get into their facility and win. The fans are very enthusiastic and Bruce (Pearl) is a domestic fan who brings excitement to their program with practical antics with student participation. He’s doing as well as any other coach.”

Grand Canyon: “It’s like putting a basketball court in the middle of a Las Vegas club. The decibel level they play music at is a pain.”

Dayton: “They love college basketball. I’ve played in places with no students and it’s still packed. For weeks after that, the chants of ‘Go Dayton Flyers’ rang in my head.

Butler: “I think it’s Hinkle’s history. When you walk in, it feels like you’re back in the good old days of basketball. The fans know the game, they respect the game, and it’s a really cool arena.” It gave me chills every time I stepped into the coach. The fans are always there, polite and enthusiastic. It’s the arena…or play the game.”

Rutgers: “It’s a small hole, but there are 8,500 people in it, and it’s a vertical wall. We walked in there. It was the 10th in the country. No. We were getting kicked in the ass, I was like, “F— GET OUT OF HERE.”

providence: “The atmosphere is silly when they’re making noise. They have a DJ and the fans are talking to the players. I’ve been there a few times when they’re silly.”

Saint Bonaventure: “The fans and students are there early and game night is the biggest party in town. The small arena is noisy and the students are sitting on the courts. Shut up the students throwing profanity. It’s an experience.” is.”

The McKale Center in Arizona has long been on the shortlist for the most intimidating venue in college hoops.

Getty Images


For clarity, the full question was preceded by the words “From what you have seen and experienced…”. That is, coaches were allowed to respond based on where they had been or what they had done under other influences, if desired. After picking two places I’ve been to, I voted a third time for a place I’d seen dozens of times on TV or heard about from a contemporary coach. (Actually, this is how Gonzaga got a few extra votes.) Some coaches voted strictly where they hadn’t been. (This is why Kansas didn’t get any more votes.)

Coaches couldn’t even choose their own arena. (However, he was allowed to vote for the school he had previously worked for.) 37 schools gave him at least one vote out of about 300 votes we received. About half of the coaches surveyed were the first choice. The building is special, and while the general public may think of Cameron Indoors as the most famous venue for men’s college hoops, those in the sports world feel comfortable keeping her 67-year-old hallowed home at KU. holding Kansas is home to some of the sport’s top venues for all the reasons—history, enthusiastic fans, and program’s relentless success.

Heading, Allen Fieldhouse was the slight favorite over Cameron Indoors, but unsurprisingly, these two were basically off the field. But Gonzaga is a clear third, so credit goes to The Kennel. This is another testament to the unprecedented work Mark Few did there. These guys have been to all three venues, so I can definitely say that the best he in the sport right now makes logical sense as three. If my favorite he makes a list of five home venue environments, they all vie for No. 1. McKale Center, Gampel Pavilion (UConn), The Dunk (Providence) and Hinkle line the table.

In fact, I’ve been to over 30 really great college basketball venues.From the top of my head, I can recall sweet experiences rhode island, Baylor, Maryland, SyracuseKentucky, Yell –And that’s just the beginning.

The great thing about College Hoops is how many of these must-see venues exist and how they vary in size, shape and charm. The fog holds him 16,300 people. Cameron is just over half that size (9,300). Kennel is about one-third smaller than Cameron at 6,000. The rap arena is like a palace. Meanwhile, McKee Arena is the coziest venue for 14,000 people, and I’m not sure there’s a more humble barn in the country than Philadelphia’s The Palacetra (capacity: 8,700).

The architecture of these stadiums is also very different. Assembly Hall in Indiana bears no resemblance to Assembly Hall in Illinois (now known as State Farm Center). While Arizona’s McKale Center is built deep underground, TTU’s United Supermarket Arena (its name is Woof) is almost entirely above ground. texasThe shiny new Moody Center just opened…and the Matthews Arena, with a capacity of just over 5,000, has been strong since 1910 and is still home to it today. Northeast basketball.

But it all comes back to the fans. The halls of the building are haunted and the walls are painted with stories. But it’s the fans and students who make the sporting experience spiritual with brick, concrete and hardwood. With fans and history you get a truly special sacred place.

This question cheered me up for the season more than any other in this year’s survey. I can’t wait for it to start so we can see these buildings come back to life and the soul of college basketball come alive under their roofs.

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