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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Flooding at Bud Walton Arena highlights Arkansas’ need for a practice facility

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Flooding at Bud Walton Arena (Photos via @_Nick5000)

Being the only SEC program without a basketball practice facility is putting Arkansas at more of a disadvantage than usual these days.

With Bud Walton Arena currently closed as a result of water damage sustained during heavy rains last Friday, the Arkansas men's and women's basketball teams have been forced out of the building.

The Razorbacks are reportedly conducting individual workouts this week at the school's health, physical education, and recreation building. It's unclear whether the floor at Bud Walton Arena will be ready for use again by the time the Arkansas basketball teams begin preseason practice next week.

Photos from former Arkansas guard Nick Mason suggest the water damage to the arena floor is likely fairly minor, but the fact the basketball teams are stuck practicing in a gym better suited for intramural games highlights the need for a practice facility. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has tried to raise money for a $20-25 million facility, but acknowledged a few weeks ago he has met more resistance from donors than he originally anticipated.

The reason for the lack of donor enthusiasm is obvious: Arkansas basketball has not lived up to expectations of late. Not only have the tradition-rich Razorbacks failed to make the NCAA tournament since 2008, they've finished a disappointing ninth and seven in the SEC in third-year coach Mike Anderson's first two seasons.

“We all know in fundraising, people give far more to a winner than they do to a program that's trying to come up,” Long told the Arkansas News early September. "The conversation with donors, they want to be associated with winning programs. There are many reasons why our basketball program hasn't reached back to the heights we all want it to. But one of those, I will tell you, is a basketball practice facility.

"That doesn't take the place of a great head coach. That doesn't take the place of great recruiting. It doesn't take the place of a great university to attract them to in the first place. I'm very excited about what Mike Anderson's doing. He's going to build it. We're going to get this facility for him and when he does it's going to be a game-changer, just like the Fred W. Smith Center is for football."

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