Lundholm Gymnasium, located in the Field House at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, is home to UNH Wildcats basketball team. A member of the America East conference, UNH basketball is overshadowed by the dominant UNH hockey program located across Main Street at the Whittemore Center, or even the FCS football team, which plays just outside of the gymnasium in Cowell Stadium. Yes, UNH basketball is not what people are usually talking about when it comes to UNH athletics, but respect should still be paid, as the team is a competitive one.
The Wildcats are hoping to finish the 2012–13 season with at least a winning record, a goal they have not met since the 1994–95 campaign. Head Coach Bill Herrion is one of the most well-respected coaches in America East. Herrion is the only coach in America East history to be named "Coach of the Year" four times, as well as the leader in conference tournament victories with 21. Herrion has won three America East Championships (which were won in consecutive years). Unfortunately for UNH, these championship victories and Coach of the Year awards came when he was coaching Drexel in the 1990s. History shows that Herrion is a good coach, but the search for a .500 regular season record continues. Herrion has the very difficult task of piecing together a winning operation.
As of this writing, the Wildcats are 4-5. Four of their five losses have been by 10 points or less. The Wildcats held the popular UConn Huskies close in their matchup down in Hartford, but could not grab a win and lost the game 61-53. In each game, the Wildcats can usually run right with their opponent, but when it comes to getting the actual win, something doesn’t seem to click. As they continue to struggle, so does their support (particularly by students). Fan participation is essential to the strength of any stadium and this is where Lundholm falls short.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Just outside the entrance to the court, a table is set up holding a few choice items for sale during the game. Popcorn and hot dogs, as well as several candy options, make up the menu. For beverages, your choices are sodas and water. Just as all the other sporting events held at UNH, there is no alcohol for sale. The food and beverage portion of this venue will not hurt your wallet, as the options range from $1 - $4. All proceeds of course go to UNH athletics. I would highly recommend just grabbing something to eat at one of the local spots downtown before or after the game.
The pep band that is usually found at the football and hockey games was absent from the gymnasium, but the dance team tried as hard as they could to get the crowd loud and motivated. The fans at this game were interested in the game itself, but the strength that is usually felt in a college basketball setting was absolutely non-existent.
There was no defined student section in the gym. There was a section meant for students, but the students who were present were instead scattered throughout the bleachers. I got the feeling that when students come to these games, they do not come to see their basketball team, but instead are just watching a game. This takes away the most from the atmosphere. Without motivated and excited students, the atmosphere will always suffer.
The town of Durham is a picturesque New England town. When looking beyond the college campus, Durham is a very pleasant town with a tight-knit communal feel. Downtown Durham is located east of the main UNH campus. Main Street is filled with little shops and places to eat. As I said before, if you are looking to grab some food on your trip to a UNH basketball game, your best option is any of the places downtown.
If you are looking for breakfast, then check out Young's Restaurant. Young's offers great breakfast and lunch items, and it is a restaurant with a long history in Durham. Don't have enough time to sit and need to grab something quick? The Durham House of Pizza offers pizza by the slice as well as whole. DHOP is a local favorite and has also cemented itself into the Durham community, as it has been in its same place for more than 35 years. Attached to DHOP is Mama Mac & More. Mama Mac is a new business in Durham, having just moved in about a year ago. Mama Mac has gained some very positive popularity around campus and the town. Food items at Mama Mac include various kinds of macaroni and cheese, as well as subs and wraps.
If you would like to grab a drink, then check out Libby's Bar and Grill. Libby's has a very nice bar as well as exceptional food. It offers the best food and beverage combination of the town's restaurants. If you have the time to sit and enjoy, I would highly recommend Libby's.
Stop by Town and Campus or Hayden Sports if you want to pick up a UNH t-shirt or sweatshirt. Each of these stores a has a wide variety of UNH memorabilia so you can show off your Wildcat pride.
The fan presence for UNH basketball is very minimal. Fans are scattered throughout the stands, hardly ever making any noise except for an applause after a basket or good play. The student presence is nowhere to be found, which takes the most away from the strength of the fan core.
To park for a basketball game, head across the street to Lot A. On the weekends, parking is free, and the walk from the lot is very short. You go through a tunnel under the street, and when you come out, you are right in front of the Field House. UNH is about 10-15 minutes off of Interstate 95 and the drive from the highway is not very hard to navigate. Boston to UNH is about a one hour and fifteen minute trip. If you are coming from I-93, get off in Concord and head east on U.S. Route 4 for about 45 minutes, and you will be right in Durham.
It is $7 for a single adult ticket, and $5 for a youth / senior ticket. All tickets are general admission. If you are coming to watch a good basketball game, you may find yourself watching one, and, in which case, the investment would be good. On the other hand, if you are looking for a big and exciting atmosphere, then you will be very disappointed. The game I watched was exciting and some good basketball was played, but the excitement that comes with college hoops was nowhere to be found.
There is nothing of note that would qualify as an "extra", and I cannot award any points.
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