University Center set to host College Basketball Experience

Continuing the trend started from a year ago, along with their two-year deal, Mercer men’s basketball will be hosting this year’s 2011 College Basketball Experience Classic (CBE) Nov. 21-Nov. 23. Last year, Mercer basketball, Coach Hoffman, his “Hooligans” and the University Center was home to the widely popular Legend’s Classic.
In this year’s rendition, Mercer will be the host to one of two subregional sites (the other being Bowling Green, O.H.). While 12 total teams participating, four big –name schools will play in Kansas City, M.O., four smaller schools will play in Bowling Green, O.H., and the remaining four schools will play in Mercer’s University Center Arena.
The larger schools include well-known names such as Georgia (UGA), Notre Dame (ND), the University of California (Cal), and Missouri (MIZZ). Also, the smaller schools include Bowling Green, George Washington University (GWU), the University of Detroit, and Austin Peay. Most importantly, the three schools visiting Mercer for the first time in school history include Sam Houston State, Niagara, and South Dakota State (SDSU). “This is a great opportunity for our guys to play against three quality teams that we would otherwise probably never get the opportunity to play,” said head basketball coach Bob Hoffman.
The style of play for the Classic is not that of a “win or go home”, but rather an “everyone plays”. This is done so that each subregional team will have the opportunity to play one another and one of the large university squads in the regional round. When all of the regional and subregional games have been completed, the four large schools will battle it out in bracket format to see who will garner the Classic title. Last year, Duke took home the prize with point guard Kyrie Irving being awarded MVP honors. These games will be nationally televised on ESPN 2.
To take part in the regional round, Mercer will travel to Columbia, M.O. to take on Missouri on their home court in the Mizzou Arena on Nov. 14. “For anyone who knows Missouri’s history, it’s a great atmosphere for college basketball,” said Mercer’s Director of Sports Information Dave Beyer. “It is the closest to an NBA arena you will get on a college campus,” added Beyer.
Just two days after their homecoming match with Emory, the game versus Missouri will be a good indication as to where the Bears stand among the nation’s best. It is also a way for them to prepare for the challenges that lie during the following week when they face three unfamiliar squads at home. Not to mention that the Bears will take on UGA and Georgia Tech on the road in back-to-back games in December.
All in all, being able to host this tournament means a great deal to the local community and anyone affiliated with Bears basketball. “Mercer and the city of Macon know how to put on a tournament, as seen from the A-Sun tournament in recent years,” said Beyer. “We will get to prove this yet again with this Classic and two more years of being home to the A-Sun tournament,” added Beyer.
The three days prior to Thanksgiving, Niagara and SDSU will kick off the action on Nov. 21. Sam Houston and Mercer will follow in the nightcap. On Nov. 22, SDSU and Sam Houston will play before Niagara and Mercer. On the last day of the Classic, Sam Houston and Niagara will play their final match before Mercer takes on the hot-shooting SDSU team to close out the Classic. “I have seen a couple of these teams play before in the past, but obviously never as a member of the Bears. I’m looking forward to seeing a few new styles of basketball in our arena,” said Hoffman. “It can be beneficial for us if we make it to the NCAA tournament this year,” he added.
Meanwhile, Missouri plays ND as Cal faces off with Georgia on ESPN 2 in the win-or-go-home format at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, M.O. on Nov 21. The winners and losers will face off against each other on Nov. 22, as the champion will be crowned.
This year’s CBE will be one to remember. Even though it is inconveniently timed right before Thanksgiving, it will give the men’s squad the opportunity to showcase Mercer basketball to some relatives or any travelers that care to stop by. Fans might want to catch these games because this time next year, Mercer men’s basketball will be participating in the Paradise Jam of 2012 in the Virgin Islands. Further details will be released shortly.
Also, Coach Hoffman and Mercer Athletics would like to extend the opportunity to any student who wishes to learn more about possibly becoming a high school coach in the future and have the desire to learn about the game of basketball, to contact the Director of Basketball Operations Jonathan Howard at (478) 301-5211.