Players rave about basketball court upgrade

During the past summer, Andrews Hall saw its first renovation to the basketball court in over 25 years.

“Coming back to campus after summer break and seeing the new basketball court was surreal,” said Tommy Fitzgerald, 21, a senior guard on the basketball team from Williston, Vt. “While we were home and away from campus, we could only look at pictures of the new court but after seeing it in person, it truly is amazing.”

With the previous basketball court being broken down due to the wear and tear of a multiple seasons of play, the school had to refinish the floor every summer to keep up with the maintenance for the players. The stateof-the-art new court now features the same hard maple flooring found in National Basketball Association (NBA) arenas around the country – a surface somewhat rare in smaller schools within the NCAA.

“I think the company did a really excellent job resurfacing the new court,” said head basketball coach Paul Booth, who hails from Northfield. “There is a lot more grip to the court along with it being a more solid surface than it was prior to this (renovation).”

Maple hardwood flooring is by far the most expensive option to outfit a basketball arena. On average, hardwood costs about 20 percent more than PVC and about 40 percent more than poured urethane. The renovation of the basketball court this past summer was funded with money from the capital projects budget, as a small part of the $100 million dollar plan the university has to improve a multitude of on-campus buildings.

“From the players’ standpoint, we are just very grateful about the support we receive to have such an amazing facility,” said Joe Bertrand, 21, a Norwich senior forward from Saugus, Mass. “Not many other schools in the Division III NCAA, never mind our conference, have this kind of surface in their basketball court.”

The surface of the court wasn’t the only thing to be renovated. Along with fresh new wood, the school also added a new logo in the center of the court. There are brand-new baselines and sidelines for both the men and women’s teams and the women’s volleyball team.

“You can really feel the difference when playing on the court,” Fitzgerald said. “When you make a cut, the floor has a lot more grip to it so you’re not losing your traction driving to the hoop or playing defense.”

For Norwich athletes, the benefits of this renovation will be felt for many seasons to come and may attract some future hoops athletes to the men’s and women’s teams.

“I’ve played basketball on numerous courts throughout my life time and one helpful component to playing better is the surface,” Bertrand said. “Just knowing in the back of your head that you’re not going to slip running around on the court is helpful. It allows me to play without thinking about outside factors and to just focus on the game.”

The players aren’t the only ones who are enjoying the new upgrades. Fans also have been treated to a “exciting atmosphere,” said James Kelley, who is an alum from the Class of 2015 and lives in Northfield and is the former men’s basketball team manager. “The old arena had such a dim look to it with the wood being stained so dark. The flooring was in desperate need of a new overhaul and that’s exactly what we got. Now the arena has luminous look to it, almost mirror-like, with the way the lights shine off the hardwood.”

While the new surface is practical and functional for the basketball team, coach Booth said he has a “bright outlook” on how potential recruits will react when they make their recruiting visit to the university. With the men’s basketball team graduating seven seniors in the spring, recruiting for such a large loss can be “difficult” as many of the players are starters and bench players who play a lot of minutes.

“I think the important thing for us is it upgrades the facility. It helps the facility look better,” Booth said. “I think that this will help not only with this year’s team but hopefully future teams coming in here and future recruits.”

The team is excited to show off their new court to competitors in the league and fans of Norwich basketball. With 13 scheduled home games, the men’s basketball team will have plenty of opportunities to show the new court was worth the investment. The season is set to kick off Nov. 18 when Norwich basketball will take on Plymouth State and play for their home crowd.

“This is the most excited I’ve been for the season to start since my freshman year,” said Fitzgerald. “With this being my senior year and most likely the last time I play competitive basketball, I want to go out and prove that we can compete in the conference and that we are ready to finally win our league and make it to the playoffs.”

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