New court surfaces are going in fast and furious throughout college basketball. Most of them are wild, eye-busting designs, with each program looking to top the last.
One school, however, put in a nice, modest new floor. Boise State’s Taco Bell Arena, of all places, is the home of a relatively mellow, mostly natural-wood-colored court.
You may remember that Boise State is the home of the famous blue football turf. Taco Bell Arena, in fact, was a bit of an eye-popper before. But the current powers that be in the basketball program are pretty proud of the less colorful new joint they’ll be playing in.
“I’m little bit more of a tradtionalist,” men’s coach Leon Rice said. “You can look around the nation, a lot of pro teams are doing this, the NCAA Tournament, this is exactly the way they do it,” Rice said. “For us, the way we play, with as many 3s as we like to take, it shows you where it is pretty clearly, and the key being colored, it will hopefully keep the (former UNLV star and No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick) Anthony Bennetts of the world from staying out there too long.”
I’m not one to put down the colorful courts. College hoops are supposed to be fun, after all. But there’s something kind of cool about Rice and his program deciding to be famous for their style of play rather than the flamboyance of their playing surface.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.