I’ve had the opportunity to go see the Buckeyes play a number of basketball games at the Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Its full name is a mouthful, but most OSU basketball fans just call it the Schott.
The Schott was designed as a multi-purpose facility. The Ohio State men’s and women’s basketball teams play there, as does the men’s ice hockey team. It hosts concerts — Roger Waters memorably performed The Wall there in October — and other events like Cirque du Soleil shows. Because it is a multi-purpose facility, trade-offs have been made that make it a less-than-perfect basketball venue. Its interior is a big bowl, the better to have unobstructed sight lines from the loge boxes. There is sound-dampening material in certain areas that helps with concert acoustics. As a result, the Schott seems to swallow up sound and doesn’t reach the kind of ear-splitting levels that you would find at St. John Arena — or at other Big Ten basketball venues, like Illinois’ Assembly Hall or Purdue’s Mackey Arena.
For this reason, other Big Ten teams don’t consider the Schott a particularly intimidating place to play (apart from the fact, of course, that under Coach Thad Matta, Ohio State has had some intimidating basketball teams playing there). To its credit, Ohio State’s Athletic Department seems to have recognized this issue. This year they have moved more students down to the floor level, in an area called the Nut House. The Nut House students are seated around the visitors’ bench and do their best to raise a ruckus. They wear Nut House t-shirts and funky outfits, have standardized cheers and chants, sing songs, and wave “fathead” cutouts of the heads of OSU President E. Gordon Gee, a smurf, former OSU great Michael Redd, and Snooki from Jersey Shore, among others, in an effort to distract free throw shooters on the opposing team. The most recent game, against Michigan, got about as loud as any game I’ve attended at the Schott.
Because of the design choices, the crowd at the Schott will never be able to reach the decibel levels found at some other college basketball venues. However, I applaud the Athletic Department and, in particular, the Nut House students for working to make the Schott a venue that is louder, more interesting, more fun, and hopefully more intimidating for the opposing teams that have the temerity to try to defeat the Buckeyes on their home floor.