Bathersfield, who started as a part-time student in 1994 and eventually graduated in 2010, said that while getting tickets to big games was difficult and costly, "I saw the team practice so much that I felt like I didn't have to go to the games."

Bathersfield doesn't have a ticket to Maryland Madness, but he looks forward to the possibility of the Terps playing a regular season game there in the future.

"I think it's a good building. I like the intimate feel to it," Bathersfield said. "If they put a few dollars into it, I think they could do it [play a regular season game in Cole]."

For some fans, it will mark the first time they have ever stepped foot into the building. After holding the celebration for his team's national championship the day after beating Indiana at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in 2002, Williams said he didn't go back for a couple of years.

"I just wanted to get a feel of the place," Williams said. "The last time we were in there as a team, they had the celebration for the team the day after we won in Atlanta. But I don't think it really hit home that the next season we wouldn't be playing there. It took a while before I felt like I could really go back."

Williams said he was pleased to hear that the annual preseason affair was being moved to the building that has housed offices, classes and activities such as intramural soccer and crabfeasts since the basketball teams left.

The memories will return for Williams and others who spent significant moments of their lives inside Cole Field House.

"I think every person that was a basketball fan has personal memories," Williams said. "They remember certain games, but also events in their life, whether it was taking their father to a game the year before he died. A lot of people have personal feelings about Cole."

Driesell is excited about coming back, too, but he is disappointed in one regard.

"The only thing I wish is that they played it at midnight," he said.

don.markus@baltsun.com