Facilities providing tangible benefits

By Michael Manganello, SPORTS EDITOR
On February 6, 2012

With the regeneration of the Athletics District nearing completion, USF coaches and student-athletes have seen tangible positives from their new facilities.

The Pam and Les Muma Center has helped increase basketball players' morale and desire to practice, helping the Bulls to one of their best seasons since joining the Big East. To beat Providence 81-78 on Jan. 29, the Bulls needed to make free throws late in the game, something they struggled with last season.

"I think you've got to give a lot of credit to (the Muma Center)," guard Hugh Robertson said. "Last year, we only had two baskets in the Sun Dome. This year, we have six. Most of our practice, we shoot free throws."

Robertson said the Bulls no longer have an excuse for missing free throws and that he stays late after practice to work on his shooting in the 51,000-square foot facility that houses both the men and women's basketball teams.

In the last two years, 10 USF teams have received an upgrade in either practice or competition facilities, with the Sun Dome still undergoing a multi-million dollar facelift. The USF Baseball and Softball Complex will host its second opening day Friday when the softball team hosts Maine.

Corbett Soccer Stadium welcomed large crowds as the men's soccer team claimed a spot in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals and made a run to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight.

Football coach Skip Holtz said the revamped Athletics District, which also includes the Frank Morsani Practice Facility, has helped draw the attention of recruits for all sports.

"It's been huge - not just for the football program, but for all the facilities," he said. "It's the image of the program and where we're heading. … I think that it's been huge. I commend (Athletics Director) Doug Woolard and his vision."

The facilities are often the clincher in whether USF lands a specific recruit, Holtz said.

"For those people that haven't been here, it's amazing ... how often we hear, ‘Wow, I had no idea this was here,'" he said. "If we can get a young man on our campus to see our facilities and be around our players, I think we have a phenomenal chance of getting that young man."

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