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Drake moves forward with new facility plans

Story by Austin Cannon and Taylor Soule

Photo Courtesy of Drake Athletics

KnappCenterLayout-w2000-h2000After announcing the plans for a new basketball practice facility in June, Drake University Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb expressed her desire to move the project to the next level.

“We want to break ground this fall. Hopefully, it would be October or November,” Hatfield Clubb said. “It’ll take approximately 12 months. We hope it’s open by the start of basketball season in 2014.”

The project has yet to be fully funded, but Hatfield Clubb is hopeful the goal will be met soon.

“We’re at $5.2 million on our way to $7 million. A little ways to go. Our goal is by Oct. 1 to finish the fundraising,” Hatfield Clubb said.

The new facility will connect to the northeast corner of the Knapp Center.

It will house two full-size courts with auxiliary baskets for the men and women’s teams, a team lounge, a film study room and brand new locker rooms.

Women’s head basketball coach Jennie Baranczyk said she thinks it will give her team a competitive edge.

“It’s a tool that gives our athletes an advantage over some other schools,” she said.

Baranczyk also looked past the court and onto the recruiting trail.

“I think it helps us recruit, not only in the state of Iowa, but the Midwest in general. There’s a whole other group of elite athletes we can really attract here at Drake,” she said.

Head men’s basketball coach Ray Giacoletti was looking forward to the increased court access his players will have.

“At least in college basketball today, it’s imperative to have a facility where your guys can get in 24/7,” Giacoletti said.

Currently, Drake’s basketball teams share the Knapp Center and Bell Center with Drake students. This issue was nonexistent for Giacoletti during his time as an assistant at Gonzaga University.

“The McCarthy Center is 24/7, 363 days. The president has a day, and some other organization on campus has a day. The rest of the time it’s men’s and women’s basketball,”  he said.

Giacoletti also reflected on his experience developing players at Gonzaga.

“We were not able to recruit high school All-Americans. You developed them. That’s the same thing we’re going to have to do here at Drake. … We’re going to have to develop them over four or five years,” he said.

Hatfield Clubb stressd the importance of the facility providing more space for both students and student-athletes.

“We share the Bell Center and the Knapp Center between recreation, intramurals, club, basketball, volleyball and then all other outside events plus alternative weather. … There are just many layers of scheduling problems that we have,” she said.

With the new facility exclusively for Drake basketball players, the Bell Center will be used for student recreation, and the Knapp Center will hold volleyball practice.

Student-athletes will have 24-hour access to the facility, something that Baranczyk thinks will help them excel academically and athletically.

“Being able to have that 24-hour access helps them with their time-management and helps them schedule when they need to schedule,” Baranczyk said.

“It keeps them really focused on what they’re doing here at Drake, which is get a great education and to perform at a very high level on the playing field.”

Hatfield Clubb stressed the message that the new facility should send to the university and its supporters.

“We’re very excited about this,” Hatfield Clubb said. “Our alumni are super excited and this is a real statement to all of our alumni and our community, our fans, that basketball is important and that is very positive.”

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