Stevenson University will host the fifth annual Hoopsville National Invitational Classic. Eight highly qualified teams will battle it out on the court in the Owings Mills gymnasium Nov. 18 and 19. The Hoopsville Classic is the “biggest, on-campus tournament in NCAA Division I, II or III,” according to d3hoops.com.
The tournament will showcase the best Division III teams in the nation in Mustang territory, thanks to the director of the athletics department, Brett Adams, tournament director and Stevenson head coach Gary Stewart. “With historically renowned basketball programs, talented student-athletes, and nationally respected coaches, the 2016 Hoopsvile Classic is full of intriguing matchups and compelling storylines,” said Stewart.
The Hoopsville Classic has been a Maryland attraction since the inaugural tournament in 2012. On day one, Stevenson will face Lynchburg College, a team that finished 21-6 in the previous season. On day two, Stevenson will play Skidmore College, who made it to the NCAA tournament four out of the last six seasons.
The Hoopsville Classic will feature a roster of teams from up and down the eastern seaboard and as far west as Wisconsin in addition to Stevenson, with some teams being nationally ranked in the D3hoops.com poll. Teams include, Albright College (Pa.), No. 2 Christopher Newport University (Va), Lynchburg College (Va.), No. 17 Marietta College (Ohio), Randolph-Macon College (Va.), Skidmore College (N.Y.), and UW-Stevens Point (Wis.).
The Mustangs lost six seniors from last year’s team, while the coaches have welcomed five new transfer students and eight freshmen to the squad that includes five returnees: seniors Ryan Hill and Michael Byrd, junior Steven Zink and sophomores Walt English and Korey Hayman Jr.
Coach Gary Stewart said he has “fortified his roster” with eight freshmen in order to build for the future as a team.
Transfers who played at a variety of colleges will also bolster the roster, including two who come to Stevenson out of Division I programs: junior Christian Collins, who played at Towson University; and Cliff Cornish, who played at Morgan State University. They are joined by juniors Tim McNeal (Chesapeake College), Johnny Rhodes (Central Penn College), and Kwynten Brooks (Bloomfield College), all three of whom are originally from the Baltimore/DC metro area.
The 2016-17 team has different strengths than last year’s, so spectators can expect a different kind of game. According to Stewart, the coaching staff is currently evaluating their players’ strengths and weaknesses to determine their positions on the court.
“Every player on the roster is critical to our success,” said Stewart, and therefore there are no weak links; each player has the ability to contribute to the team’s victory, he added.