For the first time since the arena opened in 2010, a new U of L basketball court graced its floor Thursday.
There aren't many aesthetic differences between the fresh hardwood and its predecessor, but the Louisville Arena Authority and ASM Global, which manages the Yum! Center, knew it was time for a change.
"The lifespan of a basketball court is 10 years," wrote Sandra Moran, ASM Global's regional marketing director, in an email to The Courier Journal. "So the original court had surpassed its life expectancy."
Moran said the new court cost $172,000 and was part of a 30-year capital project improvement plan between ASM Global and the Louisville Arena Authority, which includes further updates to keep the venue in top shape for years to come. It was supposed to be installed ahead of the 2022-23 basketball season, but manufacturing backups due to the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the process.
On Thursday, arena workers conducted a trial run of piecing the court together — a process that will be repeated dozens of times over the next six months as the Yum! Center juggles basketball games in between its schedule of concerts and other events.
Smells like a fresh new court in here. Thanks for the early birthday present, 𝐋𝐨𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞 𝐀𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐚 𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲! 🥳 pic.twitter.com/yK2cT6ORac
— KFC Yum! Center (@kfc_yumcenter) September 28, 2023
So, what's different about this version of Denny Crum Court?
For starters, it's 8 feet shorter, which Moran said allows for an extra row of courtside seats. Then, there's the late Hall of Fame coach's signature, which underwent a font refresh.
Louisville men's basketball will first take to the new hardwood at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 for its Red and White intrasquad scrimmage. The team has two exhibitions at the Yum! Center, at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 against Simmons College and at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 against Kentucky Wesleyan, before formally tipping off Year 2 of the Kenny Payne era at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 against UMBC.
The women's team plays its first home game at 4 p.m. Nov. 12 against DePaul after opening the season on the road with a 6 p.m. tipoff Nov. 6 at Cincinnati.
Around the city: Former Western boys basketball assistant coach Marcus Woods takes over Jeffersontown's girls team
— Marcus Woods (@_Coach_Woody) September 23, 2023
Marcus Woods on Sept. 23 announced he accepted the Chargers' head-coaching job, taking over a squad that went 4-12 overall and 2-10 against Sixth Region opponents in Year 3 under Elliott Hardesty.
Jeffersontown's official 2023-24 roster on KHSAA.com, as of Sept. 28, listed 10 players. The Chargers are set to return their leading scorer from last season, forward Jaylynn Jaggers, who as a sophomore averaged 10.4 points per game on 27.3% shooting (31.6% from 3-point range).
Woods' departure from Western comes after Britt resigned in June to join the staff at Edward Waters University, a Division II program in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2021, Britt and his staff coached the Warriors to their first regional championship game since 1977 and then a school-best record of 23-5 the following season.
In addition to Woods, Western had two other assistant coaches pursue opportunities elsewhere after it finished the 2022-23 season with a 21-8 record. Brandon Anderson in April was named the head coach of Central's boys team; while Kevin Graves Jr. is joining DeSales' staff as an assistant.
The Warriors in August announced Julio Anthony as Britt's successor. A former guard at Eastern Illinois, Anthony is the president and head instructor of the Kentucky Ambition program. Two of Britt's assistants, Jamico Morris and Chris Nichols, are staying on Western's staff.
Performance of the week: Sebastian Moss makes Louisville men's golf history
— Louisville Men's Golf (@LouisvilleMGOLF) September 25, 2023
No Louisville men's golfer past or present has had a better two-week stretch than Sebastian Moss.
Moss, a junior from Pearland, Texas, became the first Card to ever win back-to-back tournaments Sept. 25 by placing first in the Rod Myers Invitational with an 11-under-par 205. His run at the Duke-hosted event included setting a new career low of -8 during the second round.
Combined with a victory at the Bearcat Invitational on Sept. 19, Moss has shot 23 under par over his past two outings. He became the first U of L men's golfer to win two tournaments in a season since John Murphy won a pair during the 2019-20 campaign.
— Louisville Men's Golf (@LouisvilleMGOLF) September 25, 2023
High school recruiting: CAL's Ella Daniels to continue hoops career at University of Tampa
Boys basketball: Michael Loftis, a Class of 2024 point guard at Holy Cross, picked up his third scholarship offer Wednesday, this one from Kentucky Christian (NAIA). Loftis, who finished second for the Cougars in scoring as a junior with 15.9 points per game on 52.6% shooting (42% from 3-point range), also holds a Division III offer from Mount St. Joseph and an NAIA offer from North American University in Houston.
Girls basketball: Ella Daniels (2024), who plays guard at Christian Academy, committed Wednesday to the University of Tampa, a Division II program that competes in the Sunshine State Conference. She averaged 7.9 points per game on 43.5% shooting (27.4% from 3-point range) to go along with 2.8 rebounds per contest.
Softball: Eastern utility player Kaitlyn Chitwood (2024) committed to Indiana University Southeast on Tuesday. As a junior last season, she led the Eagles in hits (56), RBIs (37) and home runs (five) while posting a team-best .448 batting average.
Mark your calendars
No. 5 Louisville volleyball travels to North Carolina this weekend for a two-game road trip. The Cards first play at 6 p.m. Friday against UNC, then take the court for a game at 1 p.m. Oct. 8 against Duke. Bellarmine's volleyball team hits the road this weekend, too, facing Austin Peay at 7 p.m. Friday and Lipscomb at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The Cardinals' fifth-ranked field hockey team welcomes Wake Forest to Trager Stadium for an ACC contest beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, then plays against Central Michigan at noon on Oct. 8. At Bellarmine, the Knights' field hockey team will be hosting the Chippewas at 1 p.m. Friday and Indiana at 3 p.m. Oct. 8.
Racing Louisville FC plays its final home game of the regular season at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the Orlando Pride. On the men's side, Louisville City FC hosts Hartford Athletic at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
In college soccer, the No. 8 U of L men's team has two games this week: vs. Kansas City at 7 p.m. Monday and at 7 p.m. Friday on the road against Clemson. The women's team hosts Florida State at 7 p.m. Thursday and Syracuse at 1 p.m. Oct. 8. Bellarmine's squads will travel this week; the women kick off at 8 p.m. Thursday at Central Arkansas and at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at North Alabama, while the men play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Florida Gulf Coast.
Bellarmine sprint football has a 4 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
In college golf, the Louisville men's team wraps up the Notre Dame Invitational on Monday, which is when the women's team will begin competing in Northwestern's Windy City Collegiate Classic. The Bellarmine men's and women's teams will be at the Austin Peay Intercollegiate and the Butler Fall Invitational, respectively, on Monday and Tuesday.
Louisville swim and dive will be hitting the pool both at home and away over the weekend. Some members of the team are going up against Auburn on Friday and Saturday at Ralph Wright Natatorium, while others are headed to Dallas for the SMU Classic.
And on the tennis courts, the Louisville men's team will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Monday through Saturday for the ITA All-Americans; while its women's team will be at West Virginia for the Martha Thorn Pink Invitational from Thursday through Oct. 8. The Bellarmine women will be at the Middle Tennessee Invite from Friday through Oct. 8.
Play of the week: No. 5 U of L field hockey's first goal vs. No. 7 Virginia was slick — and decisive
— Louisville Field Hockey (@LouisvilleFH) September 29, 2023
Fifth-ranked Louisville field hockey and seventh-ranked Virginia were deadlocked at the 7:19 mark of the second quarter Friday at Trager Stadium.
That changed in the blink of an eye, with Minna Tremonti scoring her second goal of the season by deflecting a penalty corner pass from Aimee Plumb past the Cavaliers' defense.
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead into halftime and, adding a goal from Izzy Bianco, held on for a 2-0 victory to improve to 9-1 on the season and 1-1 in ACC play.
Goalkeeper Merlijn van der Vegt posted her second consecutive shutout and third of the season to spur the winning performance.
Reach Louisville men's basketball reporter Brooks Holton at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on X at @brooksHolton.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville basketball 2023: New court at KFC Yum! Center, sports news