In a (thankfully brief) ceremony yesterday, the next phase of Michigan's basketball programs kicked off with the groundbreaking on a new practice facility.
Though most Athletic Department representatives didn't say it raises expectations - they want to win every game, every year, how can you get higher than that? - the facility will help both the men's and women's programs reach new levels of success. The expectations haven't changed, but the ability to reach them has improved. There are two ways in which the facility will help the program: getting top recruits on campus, and helping them improve once they're Wolverines.
AD David Brandon summed up the recruiting benefit simply, saying "I always look at these things from the perspective of a recruit." Young kids will want to see that the school is trying to help them reach their goals on the basketball court before they ever consider committing to Michigan. Men's coach John Beilein said that recruits don't talk about the lack of a practice facility, but their silence speaks volumes.
Once top recruits are on campus, the new practice facility will be a huge benefit to improving their game. The main gym at Crisler Arena is the only basketball court on Michigan's Athletic campus (depending on what you consider the free-for-all gyms at the IM Building). Now, there will be courts to use for practice even when Crisler Arena is occupied by other events. Players will also have access to practice facilities during non-peak hours, meaning it's easier for them to take the classes they want. The players will also be practicing in the same facility that their coaches work, which isn't the case right now. Currently, the coaches' offices are in the main athletic department complex.
Though the schedule is not set in stone, the completion date for the project is in Fall of 2011. There's a good chance construction goes ahead of schedule, as it has for the Michigan Stadium Project, but the coaches are telling 2011 recruits that the facility should be done around the time they enter school.
Yay, we will finally have a practice facility!
Side Note: According to Associate AD Joe Parker, 59 of the 81 suites in Michigan Stadium are committed. All but two of those have been paid for. There will be an open house in June for those who have committed to suites or club seats to come sit in their seats and see what the view will be like. For more info, head to michiganstadiumproject.com.