Courtesy of Louisiana Tech Athletics
RUSTON – After almost 60 years of existence, including four decades of enduring the bounce of a ball and the scuff of athletic shoes, the history-rich pecan basketball court at Memorial Gym began undergoing a facelift Monday night.
Demolition on the existing floor which came with the facility that was constructed in the 1950s started earlier this week in order to make way for a new state-of-the-art floor that will be used by both the health and physical education department and the athletics department.
The project was designed to permanently honor former Louisiana Tech basketball coaching legend Robert “Scotty” Robertson – an eight-time Hall of Famer – and will serve as an alternate practice facility for the Bulldog and Lady Techsters basketball teams.
Robertson, who passed away in August of last year, coached the Bulldogs from 1964 to 1974 and recorded a 161-86 mark while leading Louisiana Tech to its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. He also spent time in the NBA, serving as the head coach for three organizations and assistant coach for six more.
The renovation of the facility is being performed by Sports Floor Inc. of Memphis, Tenn., and will also be used by the Tech kinesiology department and A.E. Phillips Laboratory School.
The leadership team, consisting of honorary chairman Doug McGuire, co-chairmen Jerry Hudson and Johnny Maxwell, and members John Caruthers, Don Hathaway, Guthrie Jarrell, John Long and Leo Sanford, began the fundraising campaign in January.
Contributions from former players, coaches, friends and colleagues of Robertson, as well as other Louisiana Tech supporters, made this renovation possible.
The removal of the original court is bittersweet for some Bulldog and Lady Techster fans, who saw their basketball teams garner plenty of successes on that hardwood.
The Bulldogs shined on the gym floor from its inception, winning the first game 107-49 over Henderson State, marking the first time a Bulldog team broke the century mark in a single game against a college opponent.
All-Americans Jackie Moreland, Ray Germany, Mike Green and Mike McConathy would go on to lace up their sneakers and make Bulldog history on the same court, followed soon thereafter by the upstart Lady Techsters.
The Lady Techsters played their first game in program history in Memorial Gym on Jan. 7, 1975 when they lost to Southeastern Louisiana 59-55. They then posted the program’s first ever win by defeating LSU 97-83 on Jan. 25, 1975.
Few losses followed for the Lady Techsters as they registered an all-time mark of 84-6 on the floor thanks to the likes of Lady Techster greats Elinor Griffin, Pam Kelly, Kim Mulkey and Angela Turner and the coaching combination of Sonja Hogg and Leon Barmore.
The newly-installed floor is expected to be completed and serviceable by early October.
Donations are still being taken for this project. To do so, please contact LTAC Director Adam McGuirt at (318) 255-7590.
All donors who made a contribution of $250 or more will be recognized on a plaque to be displayed at the facility.
August 2, 2012