Hoyas, Ducks to open hoops season in Asia
The college basketball season will tip off in Asia for the first time when Georgetown and Oregon meet Nov. 8 at a U.S. Army base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.
The U.S. Department of Defense and the Army, in conjunction with ESPN, agreed to host the game at Camp Humphreys, an Army base located 45 miles south of Seoul. The last time a regular-season college basketball game was played in Asia was December 1982, when Houston and Virginia squared off in Tokyo.
Numerous teams have participated in foreign tours to Asia, notably China. Georgetown played in Beijing in August 2011 and actually got into a much-publicized brawl with its opponent. The Pac-12 has pushed for an initiative to expand its reach into Asia, with UCLA going on a tour to China last year and Arizona State this summer. There also is a delegation from a Pac-12 coaching clinic with Oregon State coach Craig Robinson headed there, as well.
"The conference is trying to promote the Pac-12 brand in Asia," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "This will be a unique opportunity for our players and staff."
ESPN and the Department of Defense worked in concert on the 2011 Veterans Day game on the USS Carl Vinson between No. 1 North Carolina and Michigan State, off Coronado Island in the San Diego Harbor. The game on the deck of the ship was attended by President Barack Obama and is looked at as a unique event in the modern college game.
A year ago, ESPN and the DOD decided to create the Armed Forces Classic, a five-year rotation serving all five military branches, the first of which involved the Air Force. Michigan State and UConn played in a C-5 transport plane hangar at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the first regular-season college basketball game on European soil. The game was well received on the base, with thousands of enlisted men and women and their families getting a taste of American culture brought to them. Visits to injured soldiers and independent contractors from down range, whether in the Middle East, North Africa or Europe, who were in a hospital at Landstuhl, also took place. The Army was next on the rotation with the likely turn going to the Coast Guard, the Marines and then the Navy in Years 3 through 5.
This year's game will be played at the Army's 110,000-square-foot Humphreys Community Fitness Center, which houses three basketball courts, an indoor pool, a track, a racquetball court and other fitness events.
"Camp Humphreys is extremely proud to host this year's Armed Forces Classic," commander Col. Darin S. Conkright said in a statement. "I can't think of a better way to provide the Soldiers and Families stationed here on Freedom's Frontier a taste of home than through a sporting event of this magnitude."
"Players and our staff are excited about playing for the troops and the opportunity to play Georgetown," Altman added. "We will get to spend a couple of days with the troops and that will be enlightening for all of us."
A year ago, condensation disrupted games on ships off the coast of Jacksonville, limiting Florida and Georgetown to playing only a half, canceling one off the coast of Charleston between Ohio State and Marquette and forcing one off the coast of San Diego between Syracuse and San Diego State to be delayed two days. Georgetown and Florida were unable to make up the game last season.
"It will be a privilege to perform in front of the men and women who serve and protect our country," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "The game is important but above and beyond the competition, it will be an unparalleled learning experience for everyone in our program."
Georgetown's busy November also includes a trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic 10 days later. Oregon won't play for a week afterward, against Utah Valley at home.
The Hoyas should be one of the contenders with Marquette and Creighton for the new Big East title. Georgetown lost top three NBA draft pick Otto Porter, but has everyone else returning from a team that finished 25-7, won a share of the Big East regular-season title and earned a No. 2 seed before being upset by Florida Gulf Coast in the NCAA tournament round of 64. Oregon, which will have a new frontcourt, has its backcourt returning and added UNLV transfer Mike Moser to a team that should contend for a top-four finish in the Pac-12. The Ducks (28-9) won the Pac-12 tournament title, were surprisingly given a No. 12 seed, beat Oklahoma State and Saint Louis before losing to eventual national champ Louisville in the Sweet 16.
The two teams will have plenty of events on the base, interacting with the troops during their stay in South Korea.
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