BOISE – Joel Bruder wasn’t looking to build the Field of Dreams – just a place for fourth-seeded Gonzaga to carry out its walkthroughs and go through scouting reports before an 11:30 a.m. NCAA Tournament tipoff against 12th-seeded UNC Greensboro.
An open space, a roll of blue tape and some creativity is all Bruder needed.
“It’s a well-known thing for all managers in the country,” Bruder said. “The guys like to go through a walkthrough, coaches like to run plays and anytime you get a chance – so if it’s in the hotel, on the courts, whatever, it’s our job to kind of provide the necessities for them to be able to do that. So the little things we have to do. We just had to tape a court.”
Come Wednesday night, Bruder and his fellow architect, student manager Adam Davidoff, had transformed the ballroom of the Grove Hotel in Boise to a full-scale model of the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Bruder and Davidoff used best estimations to measure out a 3-point arc, a full key and free-throw line and restricted area arc.
“We didn’t have a ruler or a tape measure, so we had to do it all by our own feet, so it wasn’t perfect,” Bruder said. A good effort nonetheless. “We’re pretty proud of it.”
Occasionally, the student managers like to add some extra touch and detail to their creations. Bruder and Davidoff cut off strands of tape and spelled out “The Kennel,” attaching it to the same portion of the court where it appears in Spokane.
“Added a little flair,” Bruder said.
The Zags used the makeshift practice center Wednesday night for walkthroughs and again on Thursday morning. Hours after weaving through the blue tape and carpet of the team hotel, GU survived a scare from UNCG in front of a near-capacity crowd at Taco Bell Arena, pulling out a 68-64 win.
So GU lives to see another day at the NCAA Tournament – and now so will the carpeted court at the Zags’ temporary residence in the Treasure Valley.
“Hopefully, we’ll still use it for the next game,” Bruder said, “but I’m glad just to help.”
Bruder also summed up Thursday’s game.
“Nailbiter,” he said. “I have complete confidence in these guys. Great guys. They take care of us. We’re just here for them and I’m glad they got the job done.”
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