Butler seeking $16 million for Hinkle renovations

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One of basketball’s greatest gyms is getting a facelift. On Friday, Butler University announced a $16 million fundraising goal, part of a renovation planned for historic Hinkle Fieldhouse that is expected to total around $30 million before it’s all said and done.

There’s always a little thrill of fear that goes through me when one of basketball’s cathedrals gets some work done. But there’s little doubt that an upgrade, done with care, can make a huge difference. As fans, we see the light streaming into Hinkle from those majestic windows, and it’s easy to ignore the dingy carpet on the upper concourse, the uncomfortable seating and the fact that press conferences are held in a phone booth. For the athletes and administrators who work in the building every day, love for the space is probably tempered by a little exasperation from time to time.

It’s heartening to hear that the Butler athletic department is taking things slowly, as reported by the Muncie Star Press.

Butler has already raised nearly $12 million in gifts and pledges, according to President James Danko. The campaign ends Dec. 31, 2013, and there is no timetable for completion of a project that could exceed $30 million.

Butler is taking a “phased approach,” according to athletic director Barry Collier.

The first phase began over the summer with tuck-pointing of 820,000 bricks and replacement of 9,700 window panes with energy-efficient glass. Plans also include more chairback seats in the arena, restrooms, scoreboard with video replay, coaches’ offices, academic center, remodeled locker rooms, and training and weightlifting rooms.

It’s worth noting that Hinkle has undergone several renovations since its inaugural season in 1928. Built for $800,000 and christened Butler Fieldhouse, the building has been remodeled with an eye toward meeting the fire code and allowing greater access for handicapped fans throughout the years. The biggest, easiest change — adding the name of Tony Hinkle to the edifice — didn’t happen until 1966.

Hinkle is on the National Historic Register, so nobody can touch the building’s distinguishing features, even should they somehow wish to. But the renovations planned will make a huge difference to the program that just joined the A-10. According to Brad Stevens, the meager facilities at Hinkle almost cost him the services of Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke, who reportedly considered going to a school with more than one ice bath in the training room.

Hinkle’s age wasn’t going to impress anyone in the A-10, anyway. Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym is three years older, after all.

(photo by me, because I am one lucky SOB)

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.