I laughed out loud when I heard University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams talk about his fondest memory at Cole Field House. “Sitting in section Q and taking two exams to get out of here,” is how Williams said he’d remember the 47-year home to Maryland basketball.
Yesterday, the Terps finished the regular season unbeaten at home, beating Virginia in the last college basketball game to be played there. They also beat Virginia in the opener the Field House in 1955. Williams made me laugh because that’s exactly what I remember about the place. As a junior, I think I had 5 exams there, and 3 more as a senior. It’s a multi-purpose building with offices and classrooms, a short cut through part of campus. Where students gather, many not realizing the history inside.
It’s where Texas Western took the first all-black starting five and won the NCAA championship beating Kentucky in the final. A watershed game in the history of college basketball. And it’s where JU made their only appearance in the championship game, losing to UCLA.
It has history, just no luxury boxes. But unlike many modern day arenas, there’s not a bad seat in the house. And the place could absolutely rock, with the sound bouncing all over the big barn-like interior. Elvis played there, but he wasn’t any bigger star than former coach Lefty Drisell. When he walked onto the court, they played “Hail to the Chief.” Even the designation, “field house” is old school. They can all say they’ll miss it, but they don’t have to. They’ll still give exams there.