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October 5, 2012All former Kansas State basketball great Rolando Blackman could think of when he stepped into the Wildcats' new basketball training facility for the first time was how the soles of his feet would be burning because of all of the great action and development that will take place in the coming years.
"It's just a great situation to see K-State build to this," the All-Big Eight guard from 1977-81 said.
Blackman, who currently serves as the Director of Basketball Development with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, joined current coaches and players, university officials and other notable alumni as K-State officially dedicated the new $18 million facility at an invitation-only event on Friday.
The approximately 50,000 square-foot facility took 19 months to construct and will cover daily needs for the men's and women's basketball programs. The amenities include two full-length courts, new coaching offices, locker rooms for both programs, coach and player lounges, meeting rooms, a sports medicine center with a hydrotherapy facility, a state-of-the-art weight room and an atrium lobby with a practice viewing deck.
"It's a satisfying moment for K-Stater's who worked so hard to make this project a reality and for both our basketball programs and student athletes who have needed this facility for so long," K-State athletics director John Currie said. "It has really exceeded my expectations."
For nearly 14 years, both basketball programs had to share the main floor at Bramlage Coliseum. Having to compromise was stressful to coaches and players alike and the opportunity to have free reign was essentially non-existent. That has all changed.
"It's very beneficial because you can get into the gym whenever you want to," senior guard Rodney McGruder said. "You don't have to worry about anything.
"There used to be times I wanted to get into Bramlage and didn't have a key so I would be locked out and I couldn't get in. Now they have codes and keys here so it's a great opportunity."
Alongside the benefit of having an easily accessible facility and holding separate practices, the newest athletics addition should help attract recruits.
"There's no doubt it helps recruiting," first-year men's head coach Bruce Weber said. "If anything, maybe we got a little bit of advantage over some other people because we got the newest one and one of the nicest ones."
It doesn't just benefit the men's program, either.
"This is a difference maker in recruiting," women's coach Deb Patterson noted. "It gives us an opportunity to be on equal footing with all of those programs we would want to compete against.
"It sends an unbelievable message to anyone that walks into this facility that Kansas State is serious about it's men's and women's basketball program, that we have the support and that the quality of experience they are going to live is second to none."
The message Currie continuously preaches is fairly simple. K-State wants to become a model intercollegiate athletics program. They now have a facility that is a blueprint standard for what's to come.
"It's important for people to understand that we have a level of excellence and an expectation of excellence at K-State that is very significant," Currie said. "So when we have a facility like this and you couple this with Bramlage and the 4,000 students that sit side court that make it one of the most intimidating atmospheres in the country, we look just as good as anybody in the country and better than most."
In the end, the purpose of the facility is to be a development center for both programs. And it's something the players understand.
"It's a beautiful place, man," McGruder said. "I just appreciate the people that helped put this together for us and I couldn't thank them enough.
"I'm going to try to work my hardest and do everything I can do because they did what they had to do for us. Now we have to go out and perform for them and show them our appreciation by playing hard."
So when the senior was called upon to shoot the ceremonial free throw at the end of the ceremony, he delivered. The preseason All-Big 12 selection calmly swished the 15-footer.
It was a perfect ending to a monumental night.