TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2006
INSIDER: Downtown is where it's at!

June 20, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The lights are much brighter there. You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go downtown.

Petula Clark's hit song hits the nail on the head for the JU basketball team as the Dolphins will play in the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena (downtown) next season.

Cliff Warren can forget about all of his troubles because his program now boasts the best facility in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

The lights will also be much brighter as JU returns downtown and reclaims its spot as one of the top sporting attractions on the First Coast.

It's been eight years since the Dolphins last called downtown their home and with the new Arena, it's a natural fit for JU. The Arena is one of the best in the country, having just hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament this past year and received rave reviews from those who attended.

With the success of the tournament under their belt, it was only natural for the Arena to marry up with JU and its established tradition on the hardwood to have basketball downtown until the NCAA Tournament comes back.

But in looking forward, we would be remiss in not revisiting how the Dolphins originally moved downtown during the magical 1969-70 season.

The season that set a high standard for JU basketball began with the Dolphins playing their home games at Swisher Gymnasium. It was a game against Georgetown (yes, the Hoyas of the Big East one graced the hardwood in Swisher) with a packed house against a nationally known opponent.

Realizing that Swisher couldn't contain the pandemonium for JU basketball anymore, the Dolphins moved their home games to the old Jacksonville Coliseum.

It was at the old Coliseum that JU saw some of its brightest moments. There were regular trips to the postseason, either NIT or NCAA, along with home-and-home series against some of the Goliaths in college basketball such as North Carolina.

There was also the yearly home-and-home series with in-state rivals Florida State and Florida.

The move downtown recalls to the Dolphins' past and shines as a beacon for its future. Cliff Warren's second recruiting class has a lot of talent and will be a key building block in the success of this program over the next few years.

Who's to say that the good ol' days are not just beginning for JU basketball?