Notre Dame completes long-awaited basketball practice facility
“Really it’s first-class.”
“It’s a little bit mind-blowing.”
The descriptions are no surprise. In all fairness, it's been a long time coming for Notre Dame hoops coaches Mike Brey and Muffet McGraw.
“We started talking about it in 2000, and [19 years later], here we are!”
After years of talk, and more recently planning and construction, a brand new basketball-specific practice facility is a reality at Rolfs Athletics Hall just North of the Joyce Center.
““You see all the buildings going up around here, and they go up so quickly, it took us a while to get here," said McGraw, who still has yet to hang any decorations in her office. "I think it’s a great reward for what we’ve accomplished. We’ve done a lot with what we had.”
The walls of the new three-level, 77,000-square-foot space is lined with the memories of achievements from seasons past. Seasons that saw the men's and women's basketball programs share either the Purcell Pavilion floor or the cramped basement court at "The Pit".
But now, those decorations are fitting for what they hope their new home can help to continue.
“This isn’t any magic bullet," said Brey. "It’s an even more efficient laboratory for them to get better. It’s a better weight room. It’s easier access to get in here for individual work. Certainly we can do more with the offseason now and coach them.”
Beyond the bells and whistles, that space – which includes identical, separate practice courts for the men and the women – couldn't come at a better time, with both squads entering offseasons calling for major talent development.
The men struggled with youth all year, and now return nearly the entire roster hoping for improvements. The women wrapped an impressive run that ended at another Final Four, but are staring at an uncertain future due to an exodus of talent leaving unproven but skilled underclassmen.
“Now we have the space to do it," said McGraw. "Each of the coaches can have their kids in at the same time, working on different baskets. We can get a lot of work done, and we’re going to need a lot of work this year.”
Beyond the tangible benefits on the floor, both McGraw and Brey cited this facility as a physical representation of Notre Dame's commitment to their programs.
“It’s a heck of a commitment," said Brey. "It puts us in line with who we have to deal with in our league especially.”
View the following gallery for a more in-depth look at Rolfs Athletics Hall.