Before the 2004 men's basketball exhibition schedule was announced, the Al McGuire center was to men's basketball as a state-of-the-art garage is to a $100,000 sports car: a great place for storage and maintenance, but always relegated to behind the scenes duty.
On Nov. 3, the garage will become the showroom when Marquette hosts Lewis University in the Al McGuire Center for an exhibition game, marking the first time the men's basketball team has played a game there since the multimillion dollar facility opened last year.
"When we had a chance to add a game this year — and it wasn't something that we'd planned to do — but when we knew that we had one extra game, we decided to play it in the Al McGuire center," Marquette head coach Tom Crean said. "And I think it's a great reward and a great tribute to all the people in the Marquette community — be it the donors, be it the president's office and everybody in the administration, be it the students — the people who helped make this building a reality."
The 4,000-seat arena serves as the home of both women's basketball and women's volleyball and serves as the men's practice facility. But men's games have always been played in the much larger— and farther removed from campus— Bradley Center downtown.
Tickets for the Nov. 3 game will be distributed free to students, according to a press release on the Marquette Athletic Department's Web site.
Lewis University's men's basketball team is a Division III program coached by former Marquette assistant coach Kyle Green.
Marquette also announced they would be adding an exhibition game against Wisconsin-Stevens Point, to be played in the Bradley Center Nov. 9. UWSP is the reigning Division III national champion, and is coached by Wisconsin basketball mainstay Jack Bennett.
"I think I'm going to enjoy this experience. Maybe the night of Nov. 9, we'll be asking why," Bennett quipped. "We have a pretty good ball club. I know that we'll get better because of that experience, and I trust we'll do enough to help Marquette get better."
"I've been a fan of coach Bennett's since literally the first year I've been at Marquette," Crean said. "It's going to be a great, great test for our team as we get ready to open the season."
The UWSP game will be part of the 2004-05 season ticket plan, with single game tickets being made available for $20 and $10.