As I mentioned a bit in today's story, the Huskies aren't on TV tonight at least in part because FSN chose to show USC-Oregon, and more specifically the first game in UO's new Matthew Knight Arena.
And while it would be nice to have both on, it's hard to argue much with the choice -- as Oregon's new place is expected to begin its life as the Pac-10's top gym. (My current top two -- in order -- are Hec Ed and USC's Galen Center.) Matt Court, as it may come to be called, certainly was the talk of the Pac-10 coaches conference call this week.
Here's some of what they had to say:
OREGON coach DANA ALTMAN: I think our fans are really going to like the atmosphere. It’s a very fan-friendly atmosphere. It’s a very student-athlete friendly venue. The seats are very close to the court. They kind of go straight up, kind of like Mac arena. It’s a little bit similar to Mac arena in the fact that everybody’s very close to the floor. There are no suites inside the arena, so it makes everbody sit very close to the court. I think it’s going to be a great college venue and one that creates some atmosphere.
On if there's any advantage from the uniquely painted floor) Oh, I don’t know. There might be an adjustment period at first. It’s a unique floor that I think our fans will appreciate. Hopefully it doesn’t confuse our players. I’m more worried aobut the players we’re putting on the floor than the floor itself.
On it's creature comforts) It is really a nice video board, and the resolution on it is supposed to be really high. I’m not familiar with all the details, but it’s a very impressive arena. It’s a very impressive replay board, and I think our fans will really like it. It’s an arena that’s built for a long time and I think it will stand the test of time. It’s going to be a great venue.
On if the court helped sway him to take Oregon job) Absolutely. I think when you have a new arena like that it generates some renewed interest. I think recruits will be drawn to it. I’ve been in a situation at Kansas State and Creighton both where we’ve moved to new arenas. It doesn’t make a big difference, but it does make a difference. The atmosphere at Mac Court was unbelievable and on gameday it was a great place to play. But the other 330 days when you didn’t have a home game, it left a little bit to be desired. (locker room, players lounge – I do like the practice facility. We do have two practice gyms and then the main arena, so we have three courts. The locker room also is very nice. It’s great for the players. I think they’ll enjoy their time there.)
USC coach KEVIN O'NEILL: I’m sure it’s going to be beautiful I guess, from what I understand. I’m sure it’s going to be wild. I’m not so worried about the arena, I’m worried about the team. I think they’re a pretty good team. They’ve struggled here early, but we’ve got to play the guys in the short pants, and not worry about the people in the stands, and play with poise and go up there and try to get a road win.
I think the better your facilities – no matter where you are – the easier it is to recruit. They’re going to have a state-of-the-art arena from what I understand. It’s going to be one of the best in the nation, so anytime you have something like that it makes your job a whole lot easier.
I think Mac Court was one of the all-time great homecourt advantages, to be honest with you. That’s a tough place to play, right up from the bad locker rooms to the fans being right up on top of you and stuff. So I won’t miss it. Time moves on and they’re got a brand new arena. They haven’t played in this thing much either, so it’s going to be new for all of us. But I’m sure everybody that has been around the Pac-10 for a while have very fond memories of Mac Court.
UCLA's BEN HOWLANDWe’re playing the second game. I think the first game will probably be a real exciting thing from the standpoint that it’s the first game ever. I know they’ve got a lot of special plans for that night: lazer shows, I was just hearing about it. (teams won’t even be able to practice). Yeah it’s a big deal. When I saw it being built last march it seems like it’s going to be a beautiful building.
OSU's CRAIG ROBINSON: “I think there is going to be a definite pop that first weekend, and hopefully it will be just that first weekend for our sake. I haven’t seen anything but pictures and plans, but from all accounts it looks like it’s going to be a wonderful place to play, and there will be a lot of excitement on their part, particularly coming off of the football team participating in the national championship. I think there will be a lot of hoopla this weekend. I hope it gets its pop in on this weekend and when we play them next weekend it’s a bit more quiet."
UW coach LORENZO ROMARThere’s a buzz around Matthew Knight Arena. You can see they’ve had a lot of advertising around it. It’s a beautiful place, that’s for sure, so it definately brings a positive outlook on their program. And there are some improvements that are looking to be made here as well.