Memorial Gym at Vanderbilt always provides a challenge to opponents

Staff Writer

There are still challenges for opposing coaches when it comes to playing college basketball games at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym.

With its benches situated on the baseline and a playing court that hovers above portions of the crowd and causes very loud acoustics, Memorial Gym provides the type of home-court advantage for the Commodores that’s unique to anywhere else in the Southeastern Conference.

That’s what the Mississippi State Bulldogs must deal with over the next two days.

After the MSU men play Vanderbilt Wednesday night in Nashville, Tennessee, at 6 p.m., the women follow with a road game against the Commodores on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs have learned to adapt over the years whenever a game at Vanderbilt appeared on the schedule.

In the past with the benches on the baseline, head coaches were restricted to the sideline. The rules have changed slightly where head coaches can go down the sideline to a certain point.

“In the old days, you had to stay on the baseline so that put a premium on point guard play,” MSU women’s head coach Vic Schaefer said. “When they were away from you running the offense in the first half, you had better be on your toes because the game would be over in a hurry You can’t score enough to make up for what didn’t get done in the first half because your point guard and your whole team are away from you.

“It’s really not a big deal anymore, but it certainly used to have some big challenges for you no question about it.”

One of the reasons for the way Memorial Gym is structured is because the arena was first built in 1952 as a combination gymnasium and concert hall.

Even though the head coaches are allowed a little more freedom to roam the sideline at Vanderbilt, the crowd can make it difficult on opponents.

The Bulldogs will have to overcome what has been called “Memorial Magic” over the years if they are to be successful in two very important Southeastern Conference road outings this week.

There is a reason why the Commodores have won more than 78 percent of their men’s and women’s games at Memorial Gym.

Finding success against Vanderbilt is not easy in Nashville as coach Jamie Dixon and his TCU program found out at the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Dixon's Horned Frogs lost an 81-78 decision.

"He had never coached there before, so it was a little different," MSU men's coach Ben Howland said after having a conversation with Dixon recently. "Last year was my first time to be in that building. It's a cool building and has been there a long time. It's a shooters gym and really good for people who shoot the ball."