Workers rolled the shiny, new goals into place on the shiny new arena floor on Tuesday afternoon, and the College of Charleston's men's basketball team practiced for the first time at Carolina First Arena.

Let the record show that forward Jermaine Johnson scored the first basket in the first practice in the new building.

"I never thought I'd see this day," said Johnson, a fifth-year senior. "And if I hadn't redshirted, I wouldn't have seen it. I'm happy I'm here."

Based on the smiles on the players' faces, so are the rest of the Cougars.

The 5,100-seat arena will be officially christened on Friday when the three-day, eight-team, ESPN-sponsored Charleston Classic begins.

Charleston takes on Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 7 p.m.

Other first-round pairings in the tournament have TCU playing Western Michigan at 12:30 p.m., East Tennessee State playing Temple at 3 p.m. and Clemson taking on Hofstra at 9:30 p.m.

Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through a bracket-tournament format. The two teams that remain undefeated throughout the tournament will face off in a championship match at 4 p.m. Sunday on CSS.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the C of C of ticket office at 953-2632.

But Tuesday was about getting acclimated to the new surroundings.

"I hope we'll be loose when we come out here and play," said Charleston coach Bobby Cremins.

"I hope the kids will be excited. It will be totally different. I'm really glad we're getting to practice a couple days in here before we play."

The men's basketball team actually wasn't the first to try the new facility.

Charleston's women's basketball team practiced in the facility early Tuesday morning.

The women's volleyball team practiced Tuesday afternoon, just prior to the men's basketball practice.

"It's a great environment," said volleyball coach Jason Kepner. "It feels like an arena the kids can get excited about."

In fact, Kepner was so concerned about his team getting too excited to practice effectively that he held a "walk-through" on Monday.

"We tried to get the excitement out, the nerves out," Kepner said. "I think they're all excited about this. We don't have any seniors, so they will all get to come back here and play."

Kepner's only complaint about the new facility?

"The balls get lost in the stands a little more than the old place," he said.

The "old place" is 3,000-seat John Kresse Arena, located adjacent to the "new place."

Just before practice, Johnson gave the media a guided tour of the men's locker room in the "new place."

He pointed with pride to a large, stainless-steel refrigerator in the lounge area of the locker room.

"That's a great upgrade from the little box we used to have," he said.

"And great upgrade describes just about everything else as well."