The Marriott Center will be the site of some heated prep basketball battles as it hosts both the 3A and 1A state tournaments later this season. However, the BYU building has already become the focal point of some heated high school debate.
What has some coaches up in arms is that several teams are playing on the BYU hardwood in regular-season competition, allowing for an unfair advantage come tourney time.Earlier this year, Provo, Timpview, Orem and American Fork paired off for a couple of regular-season games at the Marriott Center. The foursome were joined by Payson and Spanish Fork for a tripleheader Friday night in the same building.
The outcry was enough that the coaches association drafted a letter denouncing the use of a state championship site for regular-season games among teams that will likely be returning for playoff participation. Coaches say that the regular-season use establishes an unfair acquaintance with the facility, court and surrounding atmosphere. Meanwhile, playoff teams have no opportunities for similar familiarity since pre-tournament practice time on the championship-site court is no longer allowed.
BYU's reported response was that since it was committed to its community involvement, perhaps the coaches association and the state high school associatin would rather find another location for the upcoming state playoffs.
ADD CRITICS: Some coaches suggest that since Provo and Timpview - and you can now add Spanish Fork - have played on the Marriott Center court, their familiarity with the settings will literally assure them against an upset loss in the first-round of the state tournament. The contention is that they need little help, since the two Provo teams have won a combined five titles in the '80s. And others say that even American Fork and Orem will benefit from the experience, even though the 4A playoffs are at a different site - the University of Utah's Huntsman Special Events Center.
AND THE ADVANTAGES: Meanwhile, some of the advantages to high schools playing on collegiate sites are obvious. It creates a special, seldom-realized setting for prep hoopsters; it allows for more spectators than the standing-room-only crowds in the high school gyms; it diminishes the home-court advantage, and it highlights high school athletics in a high-profile way.
Also, BYU is not the only college court in the state. Other colleges and universities could follow suit in similar showings of community involvement, with the list including the University of Utah, Utah State, Weber State, SUSC and all the junior colleges. In fact, Westminster College _ the site of Jazz practices and pro-am play in the summer _ could be another site for Salt Lake City area competition.
Also, Rowland Hall will be back for what is becoming an annual appearance at the Salt Palace with an afternoon game against Tabiona later this month.
FALL BACK TO FOOTBALL: Remember last September, when Provo played Timpview and American Fork faced Orem in football action at Cougar Stadium? No one seemed to complain about that arrange-ment.
OTHERS ON COLLEGIATE COURTS: It's not like the Utah County six are the only high school teams who have played or will play on collegiate courts.
It seemed that Southern Utah State College hosted some sort of high school basketball invitational nearly every weekend of the preseason. SUSC visitors this season included the likes of Mountain Crest, Sky View, West, Cedar, Dixie, Pine View, Timpview, Wasatch, Millard, Delta, Grand, North Sanpete, South Summit, Altamont, and Valley.
Meanwhile, the Region 7 threesome of Cedar, Dixie, and Pine View will be playing the final round of their regular-season schedule at the SUSC Centrum and the Dixie Center in St. George. The idea is to draw big-time attention to the deciding region games as well as to avoid any home-court advantage in the third and final round of league play.
Elsewhere, Region 10 will conduct its post-season league tournament at Snow College, while the two Region 13 divisions will come together at the College of Eastern Utah for their league affair.