Basketball question from an outsider - facilities and staff

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Basketball question from an outsider - facilities and staff

Postby 94cat on Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:21 pm

I am a Davidson grad, but as my signature indicates, my father and grandfather both went to Wofford....so I've spent a good bit of time there over the years. I also had a few beverages in one of the fraternity houses there when visiting a number of friends of mine that went to Wofford.

Anyway, I have a question about the basketball program and the basketball facilities.

With all due respect, Benjamin Johnson Arena is substandard for a Division I basketball program. It is smaller than some high school gyms. I was commenting last night to a couple of people that the basketball facility has got to be a major detriment in recruiting. Is there any plan to build something better?

I'm going to speculate, so please correct me if I'm way off base here: It's almost like everyone (the AD and the coach) has been there so long that they are just conditioned to having those facilities and are so accustomed to that gym, that they have become content and can't see beyond it and the need for something better.

The AD, Richard Johnson has been since 1985 - he was the head basketball coach for 17 years (became AD in 2002). The current head basketball coach, Mike Young, was an assistant under Johnson for 13 years and has been at Wofford for a total of 19 years (part of the old regime, so to speak). Not much in the way of fresh ideas and attitude has been brought in for the basketball program since the mid 1980s. Yikes.

Maybe someone with a fresh set of eyes is needed there to bring a new perspective and new attitude to Wofford - regarding both facilities and the program?

If there is opposition to building a new basketball arena, do they argue that they don't want to build an arena that will be 50-70% empty for games? If so, isn't that very short-sighted?

When Belk Arena (Davidson) was built in the late 1980s, we didn't bring in any crowds (similar to what Wofford currently draws), and the program was at a low point. But look at what has happened in the past 20 years. The program grew into the facility. For a number of years now, Davidson has been getting great crowds for all home games...often coming close to filling the 5500 seat arena. So, the powers-that-be shouldn't use the excuse that by building a nice basketball facility they might "outbuild" the program. That argument doesn't work.

Or, is Wofford just a football school that doesn't really care to emphasize basketball? Or does the faculty ,staff and athletic department just not care that much?

I'm not asking this to provoke a reaction or to be insulting to Wofford in any way. I'm legitimately curious about what is going on there. Because I have Wofford ties (and almost attended Wofford), I would like to see Wofford do much better in basketball than they have traditionally done.
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Postby dude on Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:07 am

BenJo is an interesting issue to me. It's not large, obviously, and it isn't terribly attractive. At the same time, I like a small gym, and I have heard it said that Wofford can present one of the toughest atmospheres in the SoCon -- in terms of noise, fans close to the action, etc.

What I'd love to see is Wofford to have a place that seats about the same number, maybe a few more, but that has more charm, more classic-arena appeal. But the construction of a new arena is a huge-dollar proposition, and that's not going to come easily. Could Benjamin Johnson be reconfigured in some way to achieve that? I don't know.

In any case, I rather prefer our place to the large, multi-purpose places that very rarely reach anything near capacity. But, yeah, some calculated and tasteful improvements wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
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Postby GoldandBlack on Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:04 am

Just my two cents' worth-

I don't think it's coincidental that the SoCon schools usually on the top of the basketball heap either don't have scholarship football programs or are large public institutions.

Scholarship football requires tremendous financial and facility resources, and returns the favor by providing badly-needed income to support other athletic programs. With a limited base of alumni and financial resources, it's my view that Wofford has simply set logical priorities based on the resources available.

Richard Johnson and Mike Young have worked very hard, and I think have done the very best within their power given the very limited dollars they have to work with compared to other basketball programs in the SoCon. While I wouldn't dismiss the possibility of BenJo being renovated in the future, I sure don't look for any large expenditure to create a new facility.
"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."
~Will Rogers
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Re: Basketball question from an outsider - facilities and st

Postby Rowdy on Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:31 am

94cat wrote:Anyway, I have a question about the basketball program and the basketball facilities.

With all due respect, Benjamin Johnson Arena is substandard for a Division I basketball program. It is smaller than some high school gyms. I was commenting last night to a couple of people that the basketball facility has got to be a major detriment in recruiting. Is there any plan to build something better?


I don't think the BenJo is much of a detriment to basketball recruiting when compared to being two scholarships short and 1/3 the recruiting budget of schools like Davidson who don't play football.

Why is Davidson even in the Southern Conference when they refuse to play all of the major sports? Then they have the audacity to question the schools who do.
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Postby TURKEYCREEK on Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:42 am

I guess for the same reason that CofC and UNCG are. D-1 teams have to be in a conference to survive and I guess the SOCON fits them best.
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Postby lawdog on Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:07 am

94 Cat make some good points. Getting beat by 35 at home by a conference team (albeit a good one) should not happen and it is not about the facility, especially when the same group beat a good Purdue team away. There is some talent there.
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Postby dude on Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:30 pm

I don't fault the likes of Davidson for not having D-1 football. That's their choice, and the SoCon has allowed them to play things this way. Arguably, Davidson's success this year is a positive for other teams in the league.

Still, it is accurate, I think, that football makes a difference. Instead of building a Gibbs Stadium, an all-basketball school can build a Belk Arena or a new John Kresse Arena or whatever. And instead of spending money on football recruiting, these schools can recruit internationally for good basketball players.

With all that said, I'm still really hoping to see Wofford get over the hump in basketball. It's an intriguing sport, in a way, because it doesn't take 40 great athletes to win. One or two players can make a team a contender. I hope we'll soon put the pieces together to be in contention in the SoCon.
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Postby Rowdy on Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:04 pm

TURKEYCREEK wrote:I guess for the same reason that CofC and UNCG are. D-1 teams have to be in a conference to survive and I guess the SOCON fits them best.


I wonder why ETSU was asked to leave when they dropped football?
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Postby TDOG21 on Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:16 pm

Ben Johnson definitely is a draw back during recruiting. The design is very similar to a high school gym. While I have heard from non-Wofford basketball players that the floor is best in the Southern Conference, the arena as a whole is an antiquated and nondescript.
Pointing fingers at the non-football teams is not the answer. Our conference would be a joke if it were not for those three basketball teams. The Southern Conference has benefited significantly from Davidson's recent success and C of C's late 90s and early 2000s success. Diminishing the competition will not make Wofford a better basketball team.
Recently Wofford decided that baseball would be the second sport (to football) to fully support. The facilities and scholarships have increased accordingly. I suspect the level of play will also continue to improve.
Despite Wofford's continued progress, we will continue to be behind financially for a long time. I think we can compete in most sports and excel in some. However, if we excel because we quit playing Davidson and C of C in basketball, then we really have not gained anything.
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Postby BossTerrier on Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:49 pm

TDOG21 wrote: Recently Wofford decided that baseball would be the second sport (to football) to fully support. The facilities and scholarships have increased accordingly. I suspect the level of play will also continue to improve.


Actually I think it was Russell King and Toccoa Switzer that decided Baseball was the team to support. Without their donations and decision-making on how to spend the money who knows what sport would have gotten the cash.

I don't think that Wofford's arena is the problem. It is better than C of C (I know they are in the process of building a new one) and they won for years in that elementary school gym. (The place has a theatre stage on one end for god sakes)

We just can't seem to take the talent we have and close out games. We beat UNC G and lose to Elon. We were up on Chatt by 14 and couldn't close the deal. App St we couldn't shoot FT. This tells me it's not the arena or talent. It's the motivation and the attitude of believing you can win and handling the pressure. We have not proven to be able to do that.
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Postby lawdog on Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:40 pm

Well said, Boss Terrier......
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Postby davcat37 on Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:57 pm

dude wrote:I don't fault the likes of Davidson for not having D-1 football.


Davidson does have Division 1 football. Thanks.
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Postby Rowdy on Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:53 pm

davcat37 wrote:
dude wrote:I don't fault the likes of Davidson for not having D-1 football.


Davidson does have Division 1 football. Thanks.


Call it what you want, I think it's closer to intramural football. Do you play tackle or touch?
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Postby BossTerrier on Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:55 pm

davcat37 wrote:
dude wrote:I don't fault the likes of Davidson for not having D-1 football.


Davidson does have Division 1 football. Thanks.


really? why don't you see if you can get on our schedule and we can test that comment out. I think we may be able to match your 85 pts last night on the gridiron...only you wouldn't come close to scoring 50.
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Postby Rowdy on Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:12 pm

BossTerrier wrote:
davcat37 wrote:
dude wrote:I don't fault the likes of Davidson for not having D-1 football.


Davidson does have Division 1 football. Thanks.


really? why don't you see if you can get on our schedule and we can test that comment out. I think we may be able to match your 85 pts last night on the gridiron...only you wouldn't come close to scoring 50.


No, it would not be that bad for Davidson. Mike Ayers has more class than Davidson's McKillop. He would call the dogs off long before it got that out of hand. Saturday night, McKillop pulled his starters with 2 minutes to go in the game. Mike Young had no starters, with the exception of one guard, in the game with ten minutes to go. McKillop is classless.
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