Inside the BYU Basketball ‘bubble

Professional leagues like the NBA, WNBA, and MLS have successfully completed recent seasons in “bubble” environments due to COVID-19. Similarly, the BYU basketball teams have their own bubble right here in Provo.

The Marriott Center Annex, which was fully funded by private donations, acts as team headquarters for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Both players and coaches have spoken of its importance during the pandemic.

Earlier this summer, men’s basketball forward Matt Haarms talked about how the team goes straight from their apartments to the annex, calling it a sort of “tunnel” to avoid exposure to the virus.

“We’ve been really fortunate because we’ve had this annex and we can lock it down where nobody can come in here and we can kind of be in a bubble,” women’s basketball head coach Jeff Judkins said. “We’ve had good opportunities to be able to do more things than other programs probably.”

Throughout the summer and into Fall Semester, the annex was closed to the public. Entry is via fingerprint access only, and all media availability sessions have been held over Zoom, both of which have been key in helping keep the teams healthy and maintaining the bubble.

The annex has a full-length replica of the Marriott Center floor, as well as half court shooting areas on either end. It has proved to be much more valuable than just a practice facility in the last few months. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

“You know this annex has been really, really good for us,” men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope said. “It gives us a chance to kind of get in here and be quarantined, to be safe when we’re working out.”

The Marriott Center Annex, dedicated on Feb. 7, 2017, stands adjacent to the BYU Broadcasting Building and connects to the east end of the Marriott Center. At 38,000 square feet, it houses office suites for both coaching staffs, meeting rooms, a training room, a strength and conditioning center which boasts cryotherapy and hydrotherapy, team lounges, film rooms, and the main practice facility courts.

“I’m grateful to the university administration and the Board of Trustees who were incredibly supportive in our efforts to build this remarkable facility,” Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said upon its completion. “I’m also appreciative of the many donors and skilled construction workers who made this dream a reality. This is an exciting day for BYU Basketball.”

A cart of basketballs stands ready to players who have 24/7 access to the annex. Players are able to utilize the annex to get extra work in outside of team practices, especially during the offseason. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

The annex gives players 24/7 access, so they can come in and work out before their morning classes or get shots up late into the night.

While the original purpose was to centralize the teams’ facilities and give them an alternate practice site when the Marriott Center was unavailable, the annex has been a crucial piece in helping both teams safely prepare for their upcoming seasons this year.

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