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Sun Dome impressive in basketball debut

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 07:11

The USF men’s basketball team beat Eckerd College in a largely unimportant exhibition contest Monday night. The Bulls were a large favorite in a tune-up for the regular season, which begins Saturday night.

The team didn’t dominate, but it didn’t ever let the Tritons really threaten an upset.

The star of the night? Martino Brock was a candidate, dishing out nine assists without a turnover in his first game with USF. Freshman Javontae Hawkins was another, with 13 points in his collegiate debut.

But, the unquestionable star of the night was the USF Sun Dome.

The old building is new again.

It’s a beautiful home for the Bulls from floor to ceiling. The old building, which is hardly recognizable as the skeleton to this new monster, is a longgone nightmare.

In the new Sun Dome, the seats are all the same color — such a small detail, but a marked improvement over the previous version, where some seats were dirty yellow, some were dirty forest green and others
were a very strange shade of green — they were still dirty, though.

Previously, patrons may have wanted to disinfect themselves  after leaving the Sun Dome. Now, it may be a good idea to disinfect oneself before entering the Sun Dome, if only to keep it so pristine.

On the concourse — a mural of USF’s history tells the story of the campus and the university.

Did you know USF was Florida’s first racially integrated university after admitting Ernest Boger in 1961? I didn’t, until I visited the new Sun Dome. If you forget the words to the fight song, just check the wall behind the student section, where they’re printed in huge letters.

The Arena Club, located at the top of the lower bowl and underneath the upper bowl, was buzzing with donors and high rollers. The nation’s first Student Club, located behind the student section on the ground floor, was mostly empty before the preseason contest but has serious potential for students, with couches and seating galore.

The new Sun Dome still has its faults, though. Four minutes before tipoff, the new foursided, center-hung scoreboard displayed green feedback snow.

At tipoff, the seats were mostly empty, though asking fans to pay to enter the building for an exhibition game was probably a mistake. With games that count against competitive teams, including the Bulls’ season opener against UCF, the seats should fill up.

Now the pressure is really on for the on-court product to consistently produce at the level it did last year on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Watching a struggling team in a bad building was some form of masochism. Watching a great team in a top-notch building is a treat students deserve.

The buzz of the new Sun Dome will sour quickly if the team does not match its brilliance.

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