Previewing the 2017 Veterans Classic Field
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - College basketball practices are in full swing and the annual Veterans Classic doubleheader is set for one month from today on November 10. Alabama will play Memphis in the opener at Alumni Hall at 6:30 PM and Navy will host Pittsburgh at 9:00 PM. Both games will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
Tickets for the Veterans Classic are available and the Navy ticket office is currently running a special that features four games for $40. The four games are the two Veterans Classic games and the Army-Navy men’s and women’s basketball games on January 14. Click here to buy tickets.
Prior to the 2014-15 college basketball season, CBS Sports Network and the Naval Academy partnered to create a new college basketball event, the Veterans Classic, an annual showcase bringing together top teams from across the country in celebration of Veterans Day. The Veterans Classic enters its fourth edition in 2017-18.
The inaugural event was Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 with No. 15 VCU playing Tennessee and Navy hosting No. 18 Michigan State. CBS Sports televised the doubleheader and had on-site pre-game, halftime and post-game studio coverage, live from Alumni Hall in Annapolis. The second edition featured No. 1 North Carolina, Temple, Florida and Navy, while the 2016 event consisted of Marquette, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Navy. Alabama will play Memphis and Navy will host Pitt in 2017.
Each year, the three visiting schools receive a glimpse of what life is like as a midshipman at the Naval Academy. The teams tour the `Yard,’ watch noon meal formation and eat lunch with the Brigade at King Hall. The teams board a yard patrol ship, go into a ship simulator, tour a MH-60S helicopter and a Marine Corps humvee.
The teams are immersed in the culture and tradition of the Naval Academy as the event includes a number of other unique experiences, including military demonstrations, receptions and guest speakers.
CBS Sports produced a 30-minute ‘Hoops Confidential’ documentary on each of the first three events and will do so again in 2017.
Alabama Crimson Tide
• Alabama was 19-15 in 2016-17 and 10-8 in the SEC. The Crimson Tide participated in the NIT, falling to Richmond in the first round. Head coach Avery Johnson is 37-30 in two seasons at Alabama. Johnson played in the NBA for 16 years and won an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs along with Naval Academy graduate David Robinson in 1999. Johnson also coached in the NBA and led the Dallas Mavericks to an appearance in the NBA Finals in 2006. Alabama is the fourth SEC team to compete in the Veterans Classic, following Vanderbilt (2016), Florida (2015) and Tennessee (2014).
Alabama Head Coach Avery Johnson:
“The Alabama basketball program is honored to be a part of the 2017 Veterans Classic. As a program, we have great respect for all members of our armed forces and how they dedicate their lives to protecting our country. We look forward to being involved in every aspect of this great event. Not only will we have the opportunity to see the Naval Academy in person, but it also gives us the chance to personally thank the men and women of Annapolis for their daily efforts to keep our country safe. Most importantly, this will serve as a tremendous educational experience for our student-athletes and one they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
• Memphis was 19-13 in 2016-17 and 8-9 in the American Athletic Conference in head coach Tubby Smith’s first season at the school. Smith served as the head coach at Kentucky for 10 seasons and led the program to a national championship in 1998. Smith has also been the head coach at Tulsa, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas Tech. Memphis will be the second AAC team to compete in the Veterans Classic after Temple in 2015.
Memphis Head Coach Tubby Smith:
“It is an honor to be participating in the Veterans Classic to be held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and I want to thank CBS Sports Network for inviting us to play in this event. I grew up in Southern Maryland, and am quite familiar with the rich traditions of the Naval Academy. I’m excited to be a part of this event -- it is a wonderful opportunity for our players to show their appreciation and to learn more about the young men and women that serve our country, and the great tradition of the Naval Academy.”
• Navy had an overall record of 16-16 in 2016-17 and was 10-8 in Patriot League play. Under sixth-year head coach Ed DeChellis, Navy increased its conference win total for the fifth straight season and finished in fourth place in the Patriot League. Navy advanced to the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals for the first time since 2001, where the team lost to eventual league champion Bucknell, 70-65. Shawn Anderson was named to the All-Patriot League Second Team and Bryce Dulin was named to the Patriot League All-Defensive Team.
Navy Head Coach Ed DeChellis:
“We are very proud to once again host the Veterans Classic. We have a great group of teams joining us this year with the University of Pittsburgh, the University Alabama and the University of Memphis. The Veterans Classic will be held the night before Veterans Day and once again, we will honor our nation’s veterans with this event. As part of the Veterans Classic experience, we will give the visiting teams an in-depth look of the life of a midshipman and immerse them in our culture here at the U.S. Naval Academy. We thank CBS Sports Network for their continued support of the Veterans Classic, as both games will be televised nationally.”
• Pittsburgh was 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC in head coach Kevin Stallings’ first season at the school. Senior forward Michael Young was named the All-ACC Third Team and senior guard Jamel Artis received All-ACC honorable mention recognition. Stallings arrived at Pitt after spending 17 seasons at Vanderbilt, where he became the program’s leader in coaching wins (332) and took the school to the NCAA Tournament seven times. Pittsburgh is the second ACC team to compete in the Veterans Classic after North Carolina in 2015.
Pittsburgh Head Coach Kevin Stallings:
“We are honored to compete against Navy in the 2017 Veterans Classic. The opportunity to interact with and observe the dedication and drive of the men and women in the United States Naval Academy will have a lasting impact on our young team. We have an unbelievable level of respect for those who protect our country and it will be invaluable for our guys to witness their selfless service.”