College Basketball’s Top 10 Craziest Courts
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Typically, college basketball courts are very simple in design. But in the new age of exotic uniform combinations and football fields, some Division I basketball programs have turned their basketball courts into art canvases - for better or for worse. We count down the Top 10 Craziest.
During their emergence as perennial powers over the last decade, both Baylor’s men’s and women’s programs have enjoyed decisive home court advantages at the Ferrell Center. Since the 2006–2007 season, their combined home record has been a sparkling 186–30 (.861 winning percentage).
Most of that success is due to the Bears’ coaches, players and fans. But the two-tone scheme in which the area below the three-point line is teak-colored (compared to the normal wood outside of it) and the basketball-shaped free throw circle may have had opponents shaking their heads in confusion. Sic ‘em, Bears? More like Trick ‘em, Bears.
Having not made it to the Big Dance since 1987, Idaho State must be satisfied for now with a court design that goes the extra mile in paying tribute to the school’s “Bengals” nickname - not to mention one that wouldn’t look out of place on an old Camaro.
Like Baylor, ISU takes a two-tone color approach, except it's inverted. Most of the court is teak-colored, but beneath the three-point line it switches to its regular color. Perhaps the trippiest element of it all is the free throw lanes, which are painted in with a tiger stripe pattern.
In addition, because Holt Arena doubles as the Bengals’ home for football, there are big areas of nothingness at either end of the floor. So instead of staring at fans when they line up for free throws, players get a glimpse of the arena’s concrete surface below the court.
The 5,000-seat Tiger Arena won’t open until next spring, but the basketball’s courts cool and subtle reference to Towson’s nickname is good enough to land it at No. 8 on this list.
Look closely at the floor and you’ll see a series of tiger stripes embossed onto the playing surface, almost like a watermark for a really nice finish. “We feel that our new court is a plus for recruiting because kids like things that are unique and cutting edge,” Towson coach Pat Skerry explained in June 2011.
Turns out Skerry wasn’t posturing when he said that. The recruiting class he reeled in last November earned rave reviews and could give Tigers fans a legitimate team to cheer about when their new arena opens.
Anybody else staring at the court at Walter Pyramid in the mood for a Mai Tai like we are?
Over the summer, the reigning Big West Conference regular season and tournament champions had four sand-colored palm trees and “The Beach” written in surfer script painted at or around mid-court. The latter touch went along with the team’s unique jerseys (below picture) and also serves as a reminder of LBSU’s three-mile proximity from the ocean.
The court design is not only crazy, it’s also awesome. This is a surefire case of 49ers striking gold.
To quote the great Jimi Hendrix: “Purple haze all in my brain.”
Like Baylor and Idaho State before it on this list, Northwestern opted for a two tone court. But it’s fair to say that the purple, wood-like design of the area below the three-point lines as well as the sidelines and baselines is even more out there. It’s how a seven-year-old in love with the color purple would design a court.
The end result is an eye sore but let’s just be thankful that the Wildcats didn’t follow through on their August 2011 consideration of painting the entire court purple. We would have never sipped on that purple drink.
When compared to the iconic blue turf at Bronco Stadium, no playing surface seems too crazy.
Maybe we don't rank the court at Taco Bell Arena any higher because the “Smurf turf” has raised our threshold for nuttiness at Boise State. But let’s give credit where credit is due. It takes a real outside-the-box thinker to come up with a design featuring giant renderings of the school’s Broncos logo perfectly contoured with the three-point arc.
We’ll gladly take this ostentatious piece of work over what the Broncos had before (below). The 1970s probably called and asked for their court back.
If at any point in your visit to Moby Arena you forget what Colorado State’s nickname is, the court at the 46-year-old facility has a way of “ramming it” into your head.
A pair of ram’s horns, darker in color than the rest of the court, run symmetrically from center court so that it looks like the circle there is wearing the horns. It’s somewhat odd in light of CSU’s ram logo already be painted at center court. Is it supposed to be a quad-horned ram?
Even more bizarre? From the opposite side of the floor, the horns look more like seashells.
The Drexel Dragons have an unconventional nickname (the only other schools they share it with are a pair of Division II programs, Lane College and Minnesota State University Moorhead). As such, Drexel opted for an unconventional court. A very unconventional court straight out of Pete's Dragon.
One’s eyes are immediately drawn to the old-timey, fire-breathing dragon nesting in a script “D” at center court of the Daskalakis Athletic Center. But if you look closer at the entire court, you’ll see the silhouette of an even bigger dragon breathing fire in the same direction as its smaller counterpart.
Alas, it's Drexel that's feeling the heat right now. After a 29-win campaign in 2011–2012, the Dragons are just 3–7 this season, including two losses on its home floor.
Among the 10 floors on this list, Oregon’s is the most notorious. That's not a surprise in light of the bevy of football uniforms the Ducks unveil year after year.
Designed by longtime Nike VP of Creative Design Tinker Hatfield, the floor at Matthew Knight Arena — which even has a title, “Deep in the Woods” — is meant to honor the Oregon “Tall Firs” that won the inaugural 1939 NCAA basketball championship. If you look down on the court from above, it's supposed to resemble looking straight up in a forest. Most people, however, see it as “a mushroom trip gone horribly wrong.”
Heck, there’s wasn’t even a visible center court line when the arena opened in January 2011. Maybe because it’s hippie dippy Oregon, the plan was to tell refs "Just chill, man" after being called for backcourt violations.
Congratulations, Roadrunners of Cal State Bakersfield. Your home floor at the Icardo Center has the distinction of being the Boise State field of college basketball.
The Roadrunners were entering just their second year as a full Division I member (having previously been a Division II athletics program) when they made the floor switch in 2011. The floor is almost entirely dark blue save for the following: 1) Regular wood below the free throw line; 2) A gigantic yellow roadrunner at mid-court; and 3) A light blue outline of California below the bird with a blue-and-yellow “B” marking where Bakersfield is.
So early into its DI infancy, the team had nothing to lose with such an audacious look. And it seemed to pay off. After going 9–19 in 2010–2011, the team went 16–15 last year, including an 11–3 mark at home.
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