Coaches survey: Best arenas, bucket lists


In July, Dana O'Neil surveyed 15 college head coaches at the EYBL Peach Jam on the subject of recruiting -- more specifically, classic tales from the road and memories of the recruiting steals and the ones that got away. While there, she also asked those coaches about the shrines of college basketball: the toughest place they've ever coached and the one arena that's at the top of their bucket list.

The toughest place I’ve ever coached:

Rick Barnes (Texas): Oklahoma State. “Before they raised the roof at Gallagher-Iba, you could not hear yourself talk.’’

Mark Fox (Georgia): Oklahoma State. “The old Gallagher-Iba was just crazy loud.’’

Darrin Horn (South Carolina): Wichita State. “They started coming for our NIT game about an hour and a half before the game began. Not students. Grown-ups. It was loud and obnoxious. Really tough.’’

Ben Howland (UCLA): Oregon. “At the old Pit there was no room on the baseline and you were all crowded in. Plus the ceiling was so low. It was just deafening.’’

Bob Huggins (West Virginia): Kansas. “They’re right on top of you. They’ve got these old wooden bleachers and they’re usually pretty good.’’

Tom Izzo (Michigan State): Kansas and Duke. “They’re always the toughest places to play.’’

Kerry Keating (Santa Clara): Kansas. “When I was at Tulsa, we went there. Had a pretty good team. Had been to the Elite Eight the year before. We got blasted.’’

Phil Martelli (St. Joseph's): Duke. “During a timeout, freshman Yah Davis said to me, 'Coach, it’s way too loud in here for me to concentrate.'’’

Fran McCaffery (Iowa): Campbell. “The old gym there, the capacity I think was like 857. You’d have to turn your head sideways to get in the locker room.’’

Josh Pastner (Memphis): Oregon. “The old Pit crowd was on top of you and it was just tremendous fun. Coach [Lute] Olson, who never took off his jacket, always took his jacket off there.’’

Rick Pitino (Louisville): Barnhill Arena, Arkansas. “When Nolan Richardson was there, that was a tough, tough place to play. Just crazy.’’

Mark Turgeon (Maryland): Kansas. “The crowd and the players. That’s a pretty good combination.’’

Bruce Weber (Illinois): Murray State. “We played there in the OVC championship game and I think the place was supposed to hold 5,000. There were probably 8,000 in there.’’

Roy Williams (North Carolina): Oklahoma State. “I’ll never forget the first time we played there. They had that Pistol Pete and he fired that gun. I’d about like to die.’’

Jay Wright (Villanova): New Mexico State. “When I was at UNLV, the rivalry was especially heated. Those games were nasty.’’

The one arena I’ve never coached in but would like to:

Barnes: The Palestra, Philadelphia

Fox: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke

Horn: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke

Howland: Assembly Hall, Indiana

Huggins: Pauley Pavilion, UCLA

Izzo: The Palestra, Philadelphia

Keating: Assembly Hall, Indiana

Martelli: Pauley Pavilion, UCLA

McCaffery: I think I’ve coached in them all

Pastner: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke

Pitino: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke

Turgeon: Dean E. Smith Center, North Carolina

Weber: Pauley Pavilion, UCLA

Williams: WVU Coliseum, West Virginia

Wright: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke