AW EXCLUSIVE: Aggie basketball facility tour

Maroon Madness is tonight at Aggie Yell Practice, but Aggie Websider has a little extra basketball coverage for today. Aggie Websider has exclusive photos inside the new Aggie basketball complex--the largest of it's kind in the nation, along with reaction from A&M basketball coaches Mark Turgeon and Gary Blair.

When Reed Arena opened in 1998, the Aggie basketball team was coming off a 7-20 record. The women weren't much better at 9-19 the year before. So needless to say, the facility was built with graduation, concerts and Muster in mind moreso than basketball.

But with the arrival of Director of Athletics Bill Byrne's arrival came a renaissance period for Aggie hoops. First it was the hire of Gary Blair and Billy Gillispie, then Mark Turgeon. Now it's the completion of the nation's largest practice facility in the nation.

"It's really really nice," said A&M men's head coach Mark Turgeon. "I've seen a lot of great locker rooms and this one is very well put together. It's perfect for what we need. I've been through it a lot. Every time I walk through it I get excited.

A&M women's head coach Gary Blair is just as impressed and believes it will be the final piece to the puzzle that keeps A&M basketball on the national scene.

"It's beautiful," Blair said. "We toured it again last Saturday with some of our recruits. Kids are going to love it."

The new facility is more than 68,000 square feet—including a NBA-like locker room that is more than three times as big as the previous digs—and has a price tag of $21.6 million dollars.

The Aggies are moving into their locker room today and should be able to use the practice gyms by mid-November. The coaches offices and final touches should all be complete by the end of January, which is impressive considering the pace that most buildings are constructed on campus.

Blair said that there was one key factor that makes this facility the premiere basketball practice facility in the nation.

"When Reed Arena was built the first time I do not believe the coaches had the input they needed to have," Blair said. "I totally involved my whole staff on designing this thing."

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