The ‘Nos­tal­gia In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment’ con­tin­ues

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - College Basketball - BY JOE GIGLIO [email protected]­sob­

The sec­ond leg of the NIT, or more ac­cu­rately the “Nos­tal­gia In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment,” brings N.C. State back to Reynolds Coli­seum on Sun­day night ( 7:30 p.m., ESPNU).

The Wolf­pack (23-11) takes on Har­vard (19-11) an un­fa­mil­iar foe with a fa­mil­iar coach. For­mer Duke star Tommy Amaker brings his 12th Har­vard team to Raleigh for the first meet­ing be­tween the two schools. N.C. State has faced Hart­ford and Howard but never Har­vard. Amaker went 2-2 as a player with the Blue Devils at Reynolds Coli­seum, win­ning in vis­its in 1984 and ‘86 but los­ing in ‘85 and ‘87.

The Crim­son knocked off Ge­orge­town, 71-68 in the first round of the Na­tional In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment, on the road on Wed­nes­day. N.C. State beat Hof­s­tra, 84-78 on Tues­day, in the sec­ond game at Reynolds Coli­seum this sea­son.

The Wolf­pack has won 19 of 20 games at its old on-cam­pus home since it moved out to PNC Arena in 1999. Af­ter the win, sec­ond-year N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts, who has 3-0 record at Reynolds, re­peated his de­sire to play more games in the re­mod­eled arena.

“I’m go­ing to talk to coach Yow about sched­ul­ing some more games in Reynolds,” Keatts said in his post-game press con­fer­ence on Tues­day.

And N.C. State ath­letic direc­tor Deb­bie Yow re­peated her fi­nan­cial stance of pub­lic deny­ing that plea. Yow, who was in the room with Keatts and the gath­ered me­dia, quickly re­sponded: “Can’t af­ford it.”

N.C. State topped $ 7.3 mil­lion in ticket rev­enue from men’s bas­ket­ball in the most re­cent fis­cal year tax fil­ing. Ac­cord­ing to an ath­letic depart­ment spokesman, N.C. State has about 10,000 sea­son-ticket hold­ers and al­lots 4,000 seats per game for stu­dents.

The ca­pac­ity at Reynolds Coli­seum, which un­der­went a $35 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion in 2016, is now 5,500 for bas­ket­ball. For each game there, 1,000 seats are re­served for stu­dents. That leaves 4,500 seats for 10,000 sea­son-ticket holds. Hence, the fi­nan­cial dilemma.

N.C. State re­ported $25.6 mil­lion in­come in me­dia rights in the most re­cent tax fil­ing and with the launch of the con­fer­ence’s new ca­ble net­work, The ACC Net­work, that num­ber will grow over the next few years.

There’s lit­tle doubt which set­ting pro­vides a bet­ter home­court ad­van­tage for the Wolf­pack. The fans are closer, the build­ing is smaller and the vol­ume is louder. The at­mos­phere at PNC Arena, es­pe­cially for early-sea­son games, is ster­ile and the large swatches of the up­per level are empty.

The build­ing can get loud but there’s no real home-court ad­van­tage un­less the Wolf­pack is play­ing a name-brand non­con­fer­ence op­po­nent, Duke or UNC.

N.C. State also has his­tory at Reynolds. It’s where Everett Case started the tra­di­tion of ACC bas­ket­ball. It’s where David Thomp­son, the best in ACC his­tory, played his home games and where Jim Val­vano sowed the seeds of the “March Mad- ness” con­cept.

“This was my sec­ond chance to coach in this build­ing and what an elec­tric build­ing, what a great place,” Keatts said af­ter the 100-67 win over Western Carolina.

The an­nounced av­er­age at­ten­dance for 18 games at PNC Arena this sea­son was 15,763. The school counts the “tick­ets dis­trib­uted” to­wards of­fi­cial at­ten­dance but most of the early-sea­son games at PNC Arena, in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, were less than half full.

N.C. State had two sellout crowds at PNC Arena (of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity is listed as 19,500) this sea­son: losses to UNC on Jan. 8 and to Vir­ginia Tech on Feb. 2. The reg­u­lar-sea­son game at Reynolds, against Western Carolina on Dec. 5, was sold out. Sun­day’s game is sold out as was Tues­day’s NIT game at Reynolds.

N.C. State’s con­tract with the Cen­ten­nial Author­ity re­quires the team to play 15 homes games there each sea­son. The Wolf­pack played 18 homes games at PNC this sea­son, in­clud­ing all nine ACC games. The arena con­tract does not re­quire the school to play all of its ACC games there.

Next sea­son, the ACC is ex­pand­ing to a 20-game sched­ule, which would leave 11 non­con­fer­ence slots. N.C. State is sched­uled to go to Auburn next sea­son and has a re­turn game with UNC-Greens­boro sched­uled for the Greens­boro Coli­seum, the site of the 2020 ACC tour­na­ment. The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal has re­ported Mem­phis and the Wolf­pack are sched­uled to meet in Brook­lyn in Novem­ber. There’s also a home game in the an­nual ACC/Big Ten Chal­lenge for the Wolf­pack, which would make more sense at PNC Arena.

That doesn’t leave many slots for an ex­tra game (or two) at Reynolds on the non­con­fer­ence slate. The sea­son-opener against Ge­or­gia Tech, sched­uled for the launch of the ACC Net­work, might be an op­por­tu­nity for N.C. State to play a league game at Reynolds.

With Yow set to re­tire on May 1, get­ting more games at Reynolds will be an early de­ci­sion for Boo Cor­ri­gan, her re­place­ment.

There’s lit­tle doubt where most of the fans or play­ers would pre­fer to play more reg­u­larly and against bet­ter com­pe­ti­tion than the an­nual “Her­itage Game.”

“Play­ing in Reynolds is so much fun be­cause it’s so loud,” for­ward Wy­att Walker said.

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