- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Glimmering practice facilities are all the rage in college hoops these days. Actually, that's probably incorrect. Glimmering college basketball practice facilities were all the rage three or four years ago, before the words "facilities arms race" felt like a cliché. Now, shiny basketball buildings are more like a requirement. If your program doesn't have one, and your main recruiting competition does, your talent intake is bound to suffer.
Such was the case at Kansas State, which was, until recently, the last Big 12 school without a dedicated basketball practice facility. But those days are over now. This weekend, K-State unveiled its brand new hoops practice facility, named the Basketball Training Facility (a name I suppose is easy to remember, if not particularly creative), an $18 million, 50,000 square-foot building located east of Bramlage Coliseum. It features "two full-length practice courts -- one for the men's team and one for the women's team -- coaches offices, locker rooms and player lounges, meeting rooms and a weight room," according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Even better, as the Capital-Journal reports, the building was privately funded, with donors Patti and Rand Berney and Laura and Jim Johnson leading the way.
“It came as a surprise to us that we were the only school in our conference that did not have a practice facility,” Rand Berney said. “We wanted to level that playing field. As you can see today, the playing field is still not level, but I like where we're sitting. This will make us the envy of the Big 12.
“Success on our courts and on our fields puts a spotlight on all of the good things that are going on at the university.”
Newly hired K-State coach Bruce Weber was fretting over whether the facility would be ready for the team's first practice on Oct. 12, but it got done, and now he's justifiably thrilled at the result:
“I was in here three weeks ago and there was dust everywhere and I thought there was no chance this would be done,” Weber said. “All I can say is, 'Wow, this is special.’"
Oh, Bruce. Where's the faith?
The facility comes at a particularly good time for Weber. Besides the strong defensive talent left behind by former coach Frank Martin -- which fits almost perfectly with Weber's best traits as a coach -- the building is one more way Weber stands to benefit from the overall increase in hoops enthusiasm at Kansas State, where Martin (and Bob Huggins before him) awoke a long-dormant, football-focused fan base and turned it into one of the better home crowds in the country. There is now no apparent structural reason why Kansas State can't keep that pace in the years to come.