College basketball courts used to be rather bland, pale hardwood covered in colored lines. For a big splash, a school might add a brighter color to the lanes or make the logo at center court larger.
Basketball court design has taken a creative twist in recent years, schools turning their floors into hardwood canvases of skylines, seas, even Spartans.
Here’s a rundown of a few of the most creative floor designs in college basketball:
The court inside the Smith Center is like taking a tour of Washington, D.C., sites without leaving the building. The court has an image of the White House along one sideline, with the Capitol Building on one side and the Washington Monument on the other. Designed in 2013, the floor is one part hoops, one part history, all cool.
SAN JOSE STATE
If fans or opposing teams aren’t sure of San Jose State’s mascot, all they have to do is look at the floor inside the Event Center. The floor features five massive Spartans with shields and helmets glaring out toward the arena for one of the most dramatic floor images in all of basketball. Darkened wood inside the 3-point arc add to the imagery, along with the massive school logo above the Spartans.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its vast expanses of evergreen trees and the floor at Knight Arena makes players appear if they’re lost in the Cascades. The court is framed by fir trees on all sides, with an opening in the middle for the school logo. Below the logo is the phrase “Deep in the woods,” which aptly describes how fans and players must feel when they’re inside the arena.
The blue turf at Boise State is the best-known playing field for visual starkness. The floor at Oakland’s O’rena is the blacktop version of smurf turf. The all-black hardwood is designed to appear as if the court is made of blacktop and it’s accentuated by a massive version of the school’s Grizzly logo at center court. It also includes an outline of the state of Michigan.
Northern Kentucky’s mascot is known as Norse and the players appear if they arrive by sea on a court that features a massive Viking ship across the court. The golden watermarked ship looks as if it’s breaching the floor from below, a design meant to serve as a metaphor for the uprising of Northern Kentucky athletics. It also happens to be one of the coolest floors you’ll see.
Several schools have skylines etched into their basketball floors, but Memphis may have done it best. The design was voted on by fans in 2013 and includes the Memphis skyline running the length of the court. What helps set it apart is an image of the famous Hernando de Soto Bridge spanning in front of the skyline in a darker color.
CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD
When the Roadrunners needed a new floor, school officials wanted a court that would set the school apart to recruits. They certainly did that. The floor inside the Icardo Center is college basketball’s answer to Boise State’s football field, covered in blue with a massive Roadrunner running across the state of California at center court. The starkness of the blue is set off by a bright yellow border and natural-wood lanes.
The school wanted something that would reflect Miami. How about a panther on the beach with palm trees? The FIU floor definitely has a tropical feel with the beach, palm tree frons jutting in from the corners and the ocean along one sideline. Grab your suntan lotion when you head to the game.