It’s that time again. Like the first icy day of the year in which you almost fall on your ass on the way to the car, it’s time to play Vanderbilt in that mad opera house they call a gym. Memorial Gym, to be exact. Is there a more annoying arena in all of sports? Regardless of how good the ‘Dores are each season, they can always count on at least a few points from their brick-and-mortar sixth man, with its benches on the ends and baskets like goal posts. As we do every season, let’s take a look at Vanderbilt’s MVP, Memorial Gymnasium.
Seating capacity: 14,316
Floor: Elevated, like their egos
Benches: In the end zones behind the baskets. Good thing Cal’s loud.
Goals: Resembling football goal posts, each of the baskets are anchored by two far-reaching beams attached to support columns, with extra support coming from cables stretching all the way to the gym’s ceiling. Should the backboard shatter (looking at you, Alex Poythress), replacing it would apparently be very difficult. To make things even more confusing for opponents, the shot clock is mounted on one of the support columns instead of its usual spot above the backboard.
Levels: There are three seating levels at Memorial, the middle of which has low ceiling. During gameplay, the “house lights” are turned off, giving “the distinct impression of watching a Cinemascope movie of basketball.” Barf.
The Vanderbilt basketball offices are connected to the gym via balconies, from which Kevin Stallings addressed the crowd at last year’s College GameDay:
Design: At the time of the gym’s construction, there was intense debate on whether the school should de-emphasize intercollegiate athletics (that’s so Vandy), leading to a compromise to design the gym to be adaptable for many uses. Essentially, Vandy’s wine and cheese crowd (so, their crowd in general) didn’t want it to appear that they were slumming it by going to a basketball game, so they made the gym as much like an opera house as possible. I hear there are even Chardonnay dispensers in the armrests.
Myth: “Memorial Magic”
This is from Vandy’s official website:
“When the construction of Memorial Gymnasium was near completion in 1952, the state-of-the art facility was one of the finest in the South. The basketball gods were so impressed; they slipped some magic dust in the overhead steel rafters–or so says a myth.
Since that first game campus game on Dec. 6, 1952, a 90-83 victory over Virginia, the magic dust has been sprinkling on Vanderbilt players from time to time. Some Commodore basketball players have been transformed into heroes causing students to charge the floor. Evidence will show that the Magic of Memorial is not a slogan, but a part of Vanderbilt basketball history.”
I think someone was enjoying some magic dust when they wrote that.
Need more? There’s a video:
Atmosphere: Does “ugh” cover it? Let me break the crowd down for you.
Students line one side the of the court and rich old boosters the other. The student section, aka the “Memorial Maniacs,” is just as terrible as you would imagine. Having lived in Nashville for over six years, I am used to Vandy students by now, and let me assure you, the vast majority are awful. Shaggy hair, popped collars, wayfarers, and a distinct whiff of false entitlement. In the grand battle of douchery, I’m not sure who wins: hipsters or prepsters. Vandy students manage to be both. The ones who come to games are predictably annoying, with their clever signs that sometimes make you laugh a little until you remember you’re supposed to hate them. Think Cameron Crazies with less creativity and more trust funds.
If there’s one thing Vandy and UK have in common, it’s old people in the lower level. The side of the court opposite from the students is occupied by the rich old boosters who are relatively harmless, unless you’re me, who has managed to piss them off every year. I’ve received my share of loud “SIT DOWWWWWN”s, cane stomps, and eye rolls. I even got a full on glare from one lady in a black and gold shawl last year. She was a sassy old bird.
There’s always a good showing of Kentucky fans at the Vandy game. Positioned primarily behind the Kentucky bench (and Ashley Judd, who always wanders in a few minutes after tip), they are loud, proud, and love to get under Vandy fans’ skin. There’s nothing more heartwarming for an “ex-pat” Kentucky fan than hearing the glorious “Go Big Blue” chant ring through enemy territory. Better yet, the Vandy fans sometimes go out of their way to make it possible for blue to get in. It’s common practice in Nashville to buy Vanderbilt basketball season tickets (as low as $141/seat), sell the ones to the Kentucky and Tennessee games, and come out with a pretty nice little profit. Thanks, guys!
The game’s seriously not until Thursday? #BeatVandy
[powered by WordPress.]
Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
9 queries. 0.341 seconds