Architecture students play basketball as study break

It’s late into the night at Architecture Hall and a consistent thud echoes through the lobby. Bang. Bang. Bang. Every now and then, people whoop and holler. Then the thudding noise resumes.

The noises have become almost a nightly occurrence as students take a break from late-night work to play basketball on a makeshift court inside the building.

Architecture students at UNL are known for working late into the early hours to complete their complex assignments, so they are always looking for ways to unwind for a bit.

“It’s a stressful major and sometimes playing basketball kind of just releases some of that stress away and also gives you a way to get away from things,” said Danny Ortega, a junior architecture student. “So doing that can help you bring better ideas. In a sense it’s just a really good way to take your mind off things.”

The lobby of the building has an area open up to the top floor. By pushing a few tables and chairs out of the way, students are able to make enough room to shoot hoops. Add in a basket attached to a railing, and the improvised basketball court is complete. It isn’t without its impediments though, which include people walking by. But it also is conducive to some interesting trick shots.

“It’s not your traditional basketball court,” Ortega said. “There are some obstacles. You have the two columns and then that big beam that’s about six feet high so it’s kind of dangerous and you have the walls that you can use as a way to get around. In a sense it’s just a different way to play basketball, which is also just a fun thing to do.”

This makeshift basketball court has existed in the building for a while, but until now, its use has been sporadic. Previously, games were only played at Basketbrawl, a three-on-three tournament that occurred in the building every spring.

But there’s been a resurgence thanks to a new professor.

Anthony Morey, who took over as the Hyde Chair of Excellence in Architecture for the spring semester, was looking for a way to connect with his students.

In his previous position at Harvard University, Morey played ping pong with his students. But after seeing what Architecture Hall had to offer, he decided that basketball would became his new method.

“It was just a really fun and quirky way to let them feel comfortable with me,” he said.

In doing so, he sparked a new trend. Shooting hoops is now an almost nightly occurrence.

“It kind of started off with him just wanting to play with us and it just kept going from there,” said Blake Brummels, a junior architecture major.

Impact in the classroom

Students in Morey’s studio class participate the most in the games — and he’s seen a positive effect, with students asking more questions.

“I think for them it’s given them a chance to feel more comfortable coming to me and talking to me,” he said. “I can see a difference from how often they come to the office to ask questions like they’ll just pop in to just ask random stuff.”

Hannah Christy, a junior architecture major, said playing basketball allows her to see a professor in a different light.

“You kind of see your professor as someone other than your professor and someone who is fun and cool to hang out with,” she said.

Morey said he’s also noticed improvement in the students’ work.

“I probably wouldn’t have kept doing it if the work would have suffered, but the work just kept getting better and better,” he said.

Ortega, Brummels and Christy said they see the time playing basketball as a nice break to get away and refresh for a bit during their late night work. Morey agrees.

“It’s like a revision time,” he said. “When you’re playing basketball you don’t think of anything else but trying score and win and beat the professor. It gives you a chance to come back to your work even within the same day with a fresh point of view, which is also refreshing.”

Sometimes the students just shoot the ball around. However, Ortega said when they do play a true game it can get competitive, but still remains fun.

A typical game begins with one or two people and before long, others are joining in, Morey said.

“I usually hear the ball bouncing from studio and they walk by the office,” he said. “Then I go down, and Blake runs down, and it’s funny. There’s like this weird catcall where everyone in the building hears the ball on the rim.”

As swift as a game starts, the players break apart just as fast, quickly finding their way back to their classwork.

Basketball provides the students with a fun outlet for their energy, but they know their homework comes first.

“I would have to say the studio has probably produced the most amount of work out of anyone in the school up until this point and probably had the most fun while doing it at the same time,” Morey said.

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