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    Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    DMR Link

    Cedar Falls, Ia. - The UNI-Dome was a hangar. The McLeod Center is the D train to Brooklyn. At rush hour. Swing an elbow too far to either side, and you'll take out some kid's tub of popcorn.

    There's a "Hoosiers" feel to the place. As in, you're sitting so close to the person next to you, that if they're chewing gum, you'll know the flavor within 6 seconds. You'll probably find out pretty quick how strong their deodorant is, too.

    "It's set up with just enough room for the court," Northern Iowa alum Mike Molstead, a longtime men's basketball season ticket-holder, observed before Sunday's 69-58 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "That first row is just so close. You're right on top of the action. It's great."

    "It's more competitive (than the Dome). More scary," noted Aaron Griffin, a junior from Perry who sat in the student section wearing a purple "Jake's Jungle" T-shirt and a frumpy cowboy hat. "I don't think people will want to come here."

    Carver-Hawkeye has tradition. Hilton has magic. McLeod has claustrophobia.

    "It was awesome," new Panthers coach Ben Jacobson beamed when asked about his new $25-million home. "I don't know that they could have done it any differently.

    "To sit and see your fans sitting right across the floor from you, to have the student section (that close). We didn't give them a lot of great plays to get excited about, but the times we did, it got loud in a hurry."

    And it stayed there, for the most part, despite being played in front of 900 or so empty seats and at a pace that sometimes resembled a slow trot. The Panthers forced 13 UW-Milwaukee turnovers and held the visitors to just a 37.5 percent clip from the floor.

    November lies. It's too early in a long basketball season to glean much about anything, but this much appears clear: When Northern Iowa isn't leaning on its defense, it'll hang its hat, in crunch time, on the frontcourt.

    "Points in the paint were the story of the game," said UW-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter, whose team was outscored 44-30 down low and outrebounded by two.

    "They dominated us in the paint. I thought their play in the post really hurt us. We knew coming in it was going to be a tough (area) for us to guard."

    But who knew McLeod would be such a tough place to keep your focus?

    "It's pretty nice," said Jeter, whose young Panthers fell to 1-4. "The atmosphere is loud down here. The court is well-lit. I enjoyed being here. I would like to see it once it's totally complete."

    Right now, it's operating at about 80 percent. McLeod still has that new building smell. Backstage is a work-in-progress.

    By the second half of the game, the purple edges of the floor were a mess of dusty footprints of all shapes and sizes. The first set of giant curtains tried along the giant south wall didn't work, meaning there's a bit of a sun glare at playing level until mid-afternoon.

    The alumni boxes on the north end are, as of yet, empty, concrete husks. Some of the rooms in the viewing deck are just bare walls. The coaches' new offices aren't slated to be ready until next week.

    "We've got to cement the back door because of weather issues," athletic director Rick Hartzell said. "Otherwise, we're in pretty good shape. Ready to kick it off, to open it up and get the bugs out.

    "It's better than folks thought. They think, 'We thought it was going to be a gym and it turned out to be an arena.' "

    A pretty good one, too. Just remember to watch your elbows.

    -----

    Also...

    All is forgotten, UWM coach says

    Cedar Falls, Ia. - Hard feelings? Rob Jeter says he has none toward Iowa State - or its athletic director, Jamie Pollard.

    "I haven't given a second thought to that situation," said the Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach, who was one of two finalists for the Cyclone men's basketball job that eventually went to former Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott.

    "Once the interview was over and they decided to go with Coach McDermott, which was a good choice, that was it. So, there's nothing else to really think about."

    The son of former Iowa football star Bob Jeter, Rob, 37, is in his second season with the Panthers, off to a 1-4 start after a loss at Northern Iowa Sunday. Last season, UW-Milwaukee finished 22-9 and was one of the Cinderella stories of the NCAA tournament, reaching the second round as an 11th seed. His contract was recently extended through 2013.

    "I still consider myself a friend," Jeter said of Pollard. "But as far as talking to him, there's really no reason for me to talk to him at this point. He has a job to do, and I - as you can tell - have got a job to do, too. But I wish him the best of luck."

    - Former Sioux City East standout Roman Gentry played eight minutes against Northern Iowa, scoring five points.

    "It's going to be exciting once we start growing as a team," said the 6-foot-4 Gentry, one of five freshmen to appear against Northern Iowa. "Pretty soon, we're going to turn it on. It'll be nice."

    - Sean Keeler



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Quote Originally Posted by ISUFan22 View Post
    ...Carver-Hawkeye has tradition...

    - Sean Keeler
    What is he referring to here?


    Yeah well, ya know, that's just, like uh, your opinion, man.

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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Maybe because the Hawkeyes have never lost a home game.


    Go Sssssssssyclones!

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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    No, I think you must have meant Kinnick, that's where Iowa never loses...oh wait...



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Ahhh, a cool article about UNI's new basketball arena - one that is already being labeled a tough place to play - and we've got to play there in not too long...

    And all people want to talk about is the very brief Iowa reference.

    Why am I not surprised?



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    We will play in the dome, not the McLeod Center, this year.



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    I wasn't trying to start a bag on UI thread (or Keeler, actually).

    What is the tradition he is referring to?


    Yeah well, ya know, that's just, like uh, your opinion, man.

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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderdave View Post
    We will play in the dome, not the McLeod Center, this year.
    Didn't know that, thanks.

    Why is that, bigger capacity?



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Some mention of this just now on the WBB pre-game. About half the crowd tonight seems to be Clones. Kind of defeats the purpose.

    UNI has lost two tough games on the road. ISU front line should have a good night and this should be a good way for the youngsters to ease into a "road game."


    “We’ve got a pretty good football conference, and we’ve got a pretty good conference overall. We’re still walking around with our heads held high and our chest out, about that.” Paul Rhoads

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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Quote Originally Posted by ISUFan22 View Post
    Didn't know that, thanks.

    Why is that, bigger capacity?
    Yes, more capacity, but Hartzell doesn't want McDermott to coach in the building he helped build. Partially tongue-in-cheek.



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    I wish the wife and I were making the trip to Cedar Falls for the ISU-UNI match-up.

    Aught to be a good one with everything surrounding the game.



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    UNI is charging and arm and a leg for these 'hot' tickets for the game in the dome as well. For our Cyclone Alley men's basketball road trip to UNI, they priced tickets to us at $30 a piece, no group rates. We offered transportation, food, and the ticket to our members for $15.



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Tradition == lots of old people

    Cstrunk, how many Cyclone Alley members do you think will go? That's a pretty good deal.



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    The Iowa or ISU game has been $30 in the past. It was also decided that the Iowa and ISU games would be in the dome before Mac went to ISU. UNI needs a money game.



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    Re: Keeler: Northern Iowa arena is snakepit in the making

    Tradition must refer to complete silence, or I guess now it is complete silence while wearing gold shirts.



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