The Fort Lewis College men will get to open its season in one of the best venues in college basketball.
The University of New Mexico announced its opening weekend event that will feature five games in two days, Nov. 11-12. In the newly named Dreamstyle Arena, better known to New Mexicans and basketball fans as “The Pit,” Fort Lewis College will play Eastern New Mexico at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 11 and Western New Mexico at 3 p.m. Nov. 12.
Other teams in attendance include New Mexico Highlands and Northern New Mexico. The Lobos will play Northern New Mexico at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 and won’t play Nov. 12.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for our program to play at one of the most historic venues in college basketball at The Pit,” FLC head coach Bob Pietrack said. “Regionally, for us to continue our brand with the Fort Lewis basketball program, we are looking forward to going down there.”
Playing at The Pit is the dream of New Mexico high school players, as it hosts state tournament games. The FLC roster has five players from New Mexico, and associate head coach Daniel Steffensen also is from New Mexico.
The arena holds 15,411 fans for basketball games. Its unique design features a court 37 feet below street level. A steep ramp leads to the locker rooms down to the court, etched with the phrase, “A mile high and louder than...,” warning of the raucous crowd that usually awaits Lobo opponents. The Pit hosted the 1983 Final Four, when Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State defeated Houston. The scene of Valvano running across the court with his arms raised is among the most famous in the sport’s history.
“For the New Mexico guys in the program, it’s a big deal,” Pietrack said. “I’ve been in that building many times recruiting, but I never thought about coaching on the floor. New Mexico has been a hotbed for us in recruiting for a long time, and to play against those other Division II schools will benefit our program.”
Ticket information for the games has not yet been made available.