OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Gallaudet University men's basketball will participate in the inaugural Hoopsville National Invitational Classic hosted by Stevenson University on Nov. 16-18 at Owings Mills Gymnasium. The annual event will be the biggest, on campus tip-off tournament in Division III and the second-largest event of its kind behind only the D3hoops.com Classic held in Las Vegas.
This year's National Invitational Classic will feature eight men's basketball teams from five different states and the District of Columbia, four of which were ranked or received votes in the D3hoops.com Top 25 at some point during the 2011-12 season and three who participated in the 2012 NCAA Division III men's basketball championship. It will also feature six prominent head coaches who have led their teams to the NCAA tournament.
The teams competing in the first-ever Hoopsville National Invitational Classic include Catholic, Franciscan (Ohio), Gallaudet, Randolph-Macon, St. Mary's (Md.), Stevenson, Transylvania and UMass-Boston.
"You don't often get to see Top 25-caliber teams in the same arena over the span of a few days unless you are watching NCAA tournament games in March," said Dave McHugh, host of Hoopsville and D3sports.com Broadcast Director. "This is a rare chance for fans, players, teams, and others to see these types of programs at the beginning of the season.
"Five of the NCAA's eight Division III regions are represented: Northeast (1), Mid-Atlantic (4), South (1), Great Lakes (1) and Midwest (1).
"This Classic will help shine a light on Division III basketball at a time when many eyes are focused on the start of the NCAA Division III Football Championship," added McHugh. "I hope the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic will garner the same respect, headlines and interest in participation as the D3hoops.com Classic has in its three years."
The tournament gets underway on Friday, Nov. 16, when Catholic meets Transylvania at 7 p.m. Gallaudet will tip off on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. when it takes on Stevenson. The Bison will return to action the following afternoon on Sunday, Nov. 18 at noon against Franciscan.
"With the end of the Pride of Maryland Championship after five years, I sat down with Director of Athletics and co-founder of the Pride of Maryland, Brett Adams, to come up with a replacement that would continue to be one of the premier tip-off tournaments in Division III," said Stevenson head coach Gary Stewart. "We then approached Dave McHugh about branding the tournament with one of the most recognizable names in Division III basketball."
Capsules about the participating teams:
Gallaudet will start the 2012-13 season with a clean slate. The Bison graduated four starters from last year's team and welcome first-year head coach Brendan Stern who served as the school's women's basketball coach last season. Senior Danny Kelly is the team's top returner after averaging 15.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in only 11 games last season.
Franciscan returns all nine players from last year's squad, including 2012 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Co-Newcomer of the Year Nolan Albrecht who averaged 15.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals. The Barons are led by second-year head coach John Lamanna who served as an assistant under current Stevenson head coach Gary Stewart at UC Davis for four seasons from 2006-10.
Stevenson begins a new era this year as it begins its first season as a member of the Commonwealth Conference in the Middle Atlantic Conferences. Head coach Gary Stewart returns for his second season at Stevenson and 19th overall, having accumulated 236 career victories. A member of the NABC Board of Directors, he owns the unique distinction of having served as a head coach at each NCAA level, including three at Division I, six at Division II and nine at Division III. A two-time NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship participant, the Mustangs return senior Brett Burrier who averaged a team-high 14.0 points last season to go along with 6.2 rebounds and a team-best 38 three-pointers.
Catholic, the 2001 NCAA Division III national champions, finished 19-9 last season, advancing to the title game of the 2012 ECAC Division III South Men's Basketball Championship before falling to Alvernia. Head coach Steve Howes enters his eighth season with 150 career wins and a .667 winning percentage, the second-highest in school history. Senior Shawn Holmes leads the Cardinals after earning All-Landmark Conference Second Team honors a year ago and averaging 14.7 points. He also led the team with 97 assists and 42 steals.
Randolph-Macon went 21-7 last season, advancing the team's third consecutive NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship. The Yellow Jackets were ranked as high as No. 21 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll a year ago and finished second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Led by fourth-year head coach Nathan Davis, a 1997 graduate with 11 years of Division I experience as an assistant coach, Randolph-Macon returns senior Lamar Giggets who was an All-ODAC Second Team selection last year while averaging 12.1 points and 6.1 rebounds.
St. Mary's (Md.) also finished the 2011-12 season with its third-straight appearance in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship while posting its fourth consecutive 20-win season with a 20-8 record. The Seahawks were ranked as high as No. 15 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll and returns senior Devin Spencer who was an All-CAC First Team selection last year, averaging 11.5 points and 2.5 assists, both team-highs. Eighth-year head coach Chris Harney has led the team to five Capital Athletic Conference titles and four NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship appearances, including three in the national quarterfinals and one in the national semifinals.
Transylvania posted a 23-5 record last season after starting the year with a school record 10-straight wins. The Pioneers, who were ranked as high as No. 14 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, return all five starters from a year ago, including NABC Third-Team All-American, senior Ethan Spurlin. He led the team in scoring and rebounding last season, averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds. Head coach Brian Lane, who returns for his 12th season and is just nine wins shy of 200 for his career, has led Transylvania to three appearances in the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship.
UMass-Boston begins its 37th season under head coach Charlie Titus in 2012-13. A four-time Hall of Fame inductee, including the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, Little East Conference Hall of Fame and UMass Boston Hall of Fame, he has been a part of the program since its club-varsity status in 1974. The Beacons return sophomore Vinny DeLucia who was named the 2012 Little East Conference and D3hoops.com Northeast Region Rookie of the Year. He averaged 11.6 points while leading the team with 79 assists and 38 three-pointers.
The 2012 Hoopsville National Invitational Classic takes place the weekend after Veteran's Day and will honor our nation's veterans, especially those injured while serving our country. It will also benefit Damone Brooks who played in all 23 games in his freshman season for Goucher College while averaging 7.7 points, but became paralyzed this past April.
Hoopsville is the only show in the nation dedicated to Division III Basketball. The program airs twice a week throughout the season on Sunday and Thursday evenings throughout the season. For more information, visit www.d3hoopsville.com or follow along at www.facebook.com/hoopsville and on Twitter @d3hoopsville.
Hoopsville National Invitational Classic
Friday, Nov. 16
Catholic vs. Transylvania, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 17
UMass-Boston vs. Franciscan, 2 p.m.
Gallaudet vs. Stevenson, 4 p.m.
St. Mary's (Md.) vs. Catholic, 6 p.m.
Transylvania vs. Randolph-Macon, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 18
Franciscan vs. Gallaudet, Noon
UMass-Boston vs. Stevenson, 2 p.m.
Randolph-Macon vs. St. Mary's (Md.), 4 p.m.
* Home team listed second
D3hoops.com and Stevenson University contributed to this article