Courts

Every court has it’s own unique culture. Here are some courts I’ve played on as well as some of each court’s conventions and quirks.

The CREC Courts on the Campus of UNL, Lincoln Nebraska

Games to: 15 (1s and 2s)
Fouls called by: Offense or Defense
Quirks: shirts and skins, if the team with next doesn’t have 5, players from the losing team can shot for a spot on the team (no cherry picking by the next captain), no backcourt violation, two of the courts have been temporarily converted into a weight room while the weight room is being remodeled, the annex gym is very poorly lit.
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CREC UNL

The CREC on the UNL Campus [Photo credit: the daily Nebraskan.com]
The courts in the Annex gym in CREC at UNL [photo credit: CREC.unl.edu]
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The ARC Courts on the Campus of UICU, Champaign Illinois

Games to: 15 (1s and 2s) or 21 (2s and 3s)
Fouls called by: Offense
Quirks: no and-1 (called foul negates made basket/continuation), no backcourt violation.
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ARC UIUC

The ARC on the campus of UIUC

One of the nice things about the ARC is that you enter and sign in on the floor above so you can see who is playing as you walk from the door to the sign in desk.

The Activities and Recreation Center -University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
The Activities and Recreation Center Courts -University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

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Gregory Courts on the Campus of UT Austin, Texas

Games to: 30 (2s and 3s)
Fouls called by: Offense
Quirks: no backcourt violation, mesh dividers between each court
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GRE UT

My all-time favorite gym for pickup ball. Second highest level of play, most courts going at once, and longest daily period of uninterrupted full-court play.

View of the main GRE courts from the Jacuzzi behind them [photo credit: fitnessmanagement.com]
Gregory Gym on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin [Photo credit: smithgroupjjr.com]
Annex Gym at GRE on the University of Texas at Austin campus [photo credit: Ali Hajipour]
Annex Gym Courts at GRE on the University of Texas at Austin campus [photo credit: Ali Hajipour]
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SRSC Courts at IU Bloomington Indiana

Games to: 21 (2s and 3s)
Fouls called by: defense
Quirks: no backcourt violations, no dunking
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SRSC IU

Thanks to the SRSC’s expansive definition of dunking (below), I can truthfully say that I have dunked thousands of times.

The Student Recreational Sports Center at Indiana University
SRSC Courts at Indiana University Bloomington
SRSC Courts at Indiana University Bloomington
The SRSC at Indiana University Bloomington has strong feelings about dunking
The SRSC at Indiana University Bloomington has strong feelings about dunking

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Hammersmith Court, West London, UK

Games to: high score after 6 minutes (1s and 2s)
Fouls called by: timekeeper (coach)
Quirks: black tile floor, players must first complete 1hr of drills before playing, all players randomly assigned to teams, Wednesdays at 7pm
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Hammersmith Campus

Finding good basketball in London is like trying to find good pickup cricket in the US. The hodgepodge of talent and quirky coaching on the Hammersmith court is the best I’ve found.

Hammersmith Campus of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Great Britain [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]
West London College Hammersmith Campus Basketball Courts
West London College Hammersmith Campus Basketball Courts home of the London Basketball Meetup Group

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The Root Memorial Square Court, Houston, Texas

Games to: 12 (1s and 2s)
Fouls called by: Offense (theoretically)
Quirks: court slopes slightly from the sidelines toward the center, volleyball floor plates stick up 1/2″ above the court surface, one basket is lower than the other.

In the shadow of a 40′ image of Dwight Howard displayed above the main entrance to the Toyota Center, and recessed into the landscaped grounds, the court is both difficult to see from the street and one of the most beautiful outdoor pickup basketball spaces in all of Texas. I’m told the best ball is played here on Sunday evenings from 5:30 to 11pm (I hope it’s true, as the game I watched at 7:30pm on a random Tuesday in July involved Dwight Howard-like jump shooting accuracy (one made basket outside of 4′) and no assists).

The Court at Root Memorial Park in Houston, TX [Photo: downtown houston.org]
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The Court Behind the School, Hsinchu County Taiwan

Games to: 20mins by 2s
Fouls called by: nobody
Quirks: no three-point shot, large pythons sometimes cross the court

The number of players on the court at once fluctuates depending on the score and who wants to play. A team down by 3 or 4 baskets can add a 6th and 7th player. I was warned about (but never saw any) snakes on the court.

The court at the School for Boys in Hsinchu Country, Taiwan
The court at the School for Boys in Hsinchu Country, Taiwan

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La cancha de basquetbol de la Carolina, Quito Ecuador

Games to: 11 (1s)
Fouls called by: Offense
Quirks: altitude of 9,300 feet, checked balls thrown in from sideline, kicking the ball as a defensive move is frowned upon

At almost twice Denver’s altitude, ballers should take a few days to get used to the altitude before testing their game against the semi-pro players who tend to play here.

Parque La Carolina courts in downtown Quito Ecuador
Parque La Carolina courts in downtown Quito Ecuador

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Cancha del Mar, Mazatlan Mexico

Games to: 11 (1s and 2s)
Fouls called by: Offense
Quirks: steady cross-court ocean breeze, checked balls thrown in from sideline

Saturday morning: get up, purchase 32 ounces of fresh squeezed OJ ($1.50), take the bus to the court ($0.10), play a few games with the local talent, eat lunch at La Tapatia Taqueria ($4.50), spend the afternoon body surfing and sun bathing with the (other) local talent, …

Parque Martiniano Carvajal in Mazatlan Mexico
Parque Martiniano Carvajal in Mazatlan Mexico

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Scott Street / Taub Courts at UH, Houston Texas

Games to: 21 (1s and 2s)
Fouls called by: Offense
Quirks: giant migrating cockroaches in the PM, frequent spectators, blend of 3rd Ward and university ballers, destroyed to make way for another university building (blue square)

Highest level of play. Some games I was the only player on the court who couldn’t dunk. True mix of city ballers and university students.

The Wheeler Street Outdoor Basketball Courts in Houston's 3rd Ward
Former home of the Wheeler Street Outdoor Basketball Courts in Houston’s 3rd Ward -University of Houston Campus

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Immanuel Lutheran Court, Mankato MN

Games to: 21 (2s and 3s)
Fouls called by: Defense
Quirks: winning teams come off after two games, shirts and skins, Sunday nights only

Played in the first pickup games ever played on this court, a wide age range (from middle school to retirement).

Sunday night pickup basketball at Immanuel Lutheran High School in Mankato MN [Photo credit: Alan Olmanson]
Sunday night pickup basketball at Immanuel Lutheran High School in Mankato MN [Photo credit: Alan Olmanson]
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4th Street Access Road Portable Court, Mankato MN

Games to: 21
Fouls called by: Defense
Quirks: grass is in-bounds, occasional through-traffic, hoop retired when the kids moved out

 I bought this hoop myself, this is me (shooting) and my brother Bernt (behind) and cousin Nate.

The hoop in front of my parent's house in Mankato, MN
The hoop in front of my parent’s house in Mankato, MN
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2 thoughts on “Courts

  1. the access road court was brutal. many hours
    were spent working on my game there.
    and if not for my oldest brother, i dont think i
    would have gotten as good at basketball as i did.

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