The Arena Pulse: No.18 Memorial Gymnasium (Vanderbilt)

Paul SeaverCorrespondent ISeptember 29, 2009

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 20:  Kevin Stallings the head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores gives instructions to his team during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats on January 20, 2007 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Vanderbilt defeated Kentucky, 72-67.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It’s never easy to go on the road in college basketball. This is a Top-25 breakdown of some of the toughest and most intimidating venues in college basketball.


Venue: Memorial Gymnasium


School Name: Vanderbilt


Location: Nashville, Tennessee


Capacity: 14,168


There’s an awkward feeling for visiting teams that enter Memorial Gymnasium. Maybe it’s the thought of an overflowing student section or the thought of another tough test on the road. Or maybe it’s just the idea that the court is elevated above portions of the crowd or the fact that the benches run underneath the baskets rather than along the sidelines.


Either way, Memorial Gymnasium holds its own among some of the toughest and most intimidating venues in college basketball.


Memorial Gymnasium has been the host of plenty of big games in the past, and despite missing the NCAA Tournament last season, the Commodores have had a recent stretch of being one of the tougher matchups in the SEC. With an overall winning percentage of over 78 percent at home, there isn’t much doubt that Commodore fans make Memorial Gymnasium one of the tougher places for teams to play.


The gym itself offers two of the more distinct features that most college basketball venues do not. Built with a stage-like appearance, the court is elevated, giving the first few rows of fans a true “eye-level” view of the game. With that in mind, the team benches are not placed along the sideline. Both benches are on opposite ends of the court, sitting just to the side of the respected baskets.


Coaches have referred to this as a true disadvantage, especially when trying to shout out plays or directions to their teams. However, Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings seems to have mastered it. Going into his ninth season as the leader of the program, he will never be one to complain.


Since winning the SEC Coach of the Year Award in 2007, Stallings has led the Vanderbilt program back into the NCAA Tournament, and heading into this year, will be looking for his third trip in the last four seasons. Although the conference is expected to be better than it has been in the past few seasons, trips to Memorial Gymnasium for opposing teams will not get any easier.


With its capacity crowds of over 14,000 fans and a student section screaming alongside the court, Vanderbilt fans have made their case for some of the best in the nation. Factor in the distinct features that Memorial Gymnasium has offered since its opening, and the Commodore faithful is up for any challenge that comes their way.