Ohio State basketball: New training facilities exceed expectations
Athletic director Gene Smith said the trophy case inside the new athletic training facilities is a “Wow” area.
Six years ago, the planned expansion and renovation of the Ohio State basketball locker rooms, practice facility and training center in the Schottenstein Center had the dry look of numbers — albeit 19 million of them — stacked atop one another and stretching skyward.
“Anytime you design a facility and get the architectural plans and all the concepts, it’s hard to visualize what it’s actually going to look like,” athletic director Gene Smith said.
He stood in the new men’s practice gym yesterday and smiled at the reality of the nearly finished $19 million project.
“Yeah, this exceeded my expectations,” Smith said. “What you want to do is create ‘Wow!’ areas. The trophy case is a ‘Wow!’ area. The training room is an ‘Oh, Wow!’ area. Seeing it on a paper and then seeing it in reality is big-time.”
Smith joined men’s coach Thad Matta and women’s coach Kevin McGuff for a media tour of the facilities. The two coaches naturally like having exclusive rights to a practice gym, each of which has a duplicate of the Value City Arena court as its focal point, with shot clocks and video teaching capabilities.
“It’s something that has been needed,” Matta said. “Just from the standpoint of gym availability, it just gives us a lot more. It allows Kevin to not be as concerned with his class schedules.”
The shared practice gym got crowded at times.
“Last year, the women’s team had, I think, three girls that needed classes to graduate,” Matta said. “So we were practicing the first semester from 5 to 8 (p.m.). Our guys weren’t getting out of here until 9 or 9:30 at night. It just gives us more of an ability to do what we need to do for our players.”
Down the hallway in the women’s practice gym, Memphis Grizzlies standout and former OSU point guard Mike Conley was going through an offseason workout.
“These (facilities) do impact what the perspective of what a place is all about,” Matta said. “I think kids see a great commitment, not only to our program but to our players.
“All of the guys that have been back this summer are mad at us because we didn’t have this when they were here. I just simply say, ‘Thank you. You helped build it.’ ”
Another former OSU and NBA star, Michael Redd, has his name attached to the men’s team locker room after donating $500,000 toward the project.
McGuff arrived late to the project, replacing Jim Foster in April.
“The gym wasn’t done,” McGuff said. “So I’ve been able to see that come to life. It’s really exciting. I’m really happy for our current players. It’s obviously also a big deal for us recruiting, also.
“A lot of people have separate buildings from where they play, which I don’t really like. Everything we do is right here. As we strive to put our players in a position to be at their best, in the classroom and on the court, we certainly have the facility to do that. I haven’t seen anything better than this.”