The CONNECTICUT HUSKIES and MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS met in the first regular-season major college basketball game – called the Armed Forces Classic – in Europe on Nov. 9 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Three players on UConn’s roster were German citizens: Freshman Leon Tolksdorf (Berlin) joins countrymen Niels Giffey (Berlin) - see video interview below and Enosch Wolf (Goettingen).
This was not an exhibition but the official opening tip-off game for the 2012/13 NCAA Basketball season and set every team on the road to March Madness and a shot at the National Title in April.
ESPN America & ESPN Player will be there every cross-over step of the way with 100s of hours of live action and our usual brand of quality back up TV shows such as College GameDay, etc.
ESPN America & ESPN Player (in the capable hands of Patrick Sturgeon and Aaron Murphy) were on the ground in Germany bringing you behind the scenes access, videos and interviews from the coaches, teams, fans and ESPN talent.
Video: UConn’s German-born guard/forward NIELS GIFFEY talked to ESPN America’s Aaron Murphy about returning to his homeland to play this historic game.
Video: Spartans’ inspirational head coach TOM IZZO interviewed by Murph after practice at Ramstein AFB.
Caption: An incredible and impressive sight of the aircraft hangar on Ramstein AFB that houses the Armed Forces Classic basketball game on Friday night!
Caption: We arrived at Ramstein Air Base this afternoon and witnessed the ESPN crew putting the finishing touches on the temporary court they have built in a hangar that normally holds very large transport planes like the C5. We could actually see and smell the freshness of the floor.
Video: ESPN’s ‘voice of college basketball’ DAN SHULMAN interviewed courtside in Ramstein AFB.
Video: ESPN’s senior college basketball analyst ANDY KATZ talks to ESPN Player at practise on Friday.
Caption: Both teams have visited wounded airmen at the base hospital and toured the skies around Germany in a C130 transport plane. Today, each team held a two-hour practice in the evening [pic above] and participated in a basketball clinic with the young kids from Ramstein Air Base. The atmosphere is very enthusiastic as everyone looks forward to Friday night’s regular season tip off between Michigan State and UConn. Don’t forget to watch the game on ESPN America TV or via ESPN Player !!
Caption: And look who flew in from the USA!? The Sportscenter news team of Hannah Storm and Kevin Negandhi with CBB analyst Jay Bilas [right].
HISTORY of the ARMED FORCES CLASSIC
ESPN announced the creation of the SEARS Armed Forces Classic, a series of Division I college men’s basketball games to be played on military bases overseas. Ramstein Air Base in Germany is the inaugural location, with the University of Connecticut and Michigan State University playing in a C-5 transport airplane hangar on the base.
The game will be televised Friday, Nov. 9, on ESPN America. The event is part of ESPN’s Veteran’s Week initiative honoring the men and women who are serving and who have served in the United States military, both at home and abroad.
“We at the University of Connecticut are honored and humbled to be asked to participate in such a terrific event as the first SEARS Armed Forces Classic,” said Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie. “Being able to travel overseas and play for the brave men and women in our military to whom we owe so much is an unbelievable opportunity for our basketball program and we are extremely thankful to ESPN for including us. The fact that the game will be played at Ramstein Air Base in Germany makes it more exciting for our team, since our roster includes three young men who are German citizens, but all our student-athletes are looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Michigan State is coming of its 14th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance, including winning the 2000 NCAA Championship. Head coach Tom Izzo participated in Operation Hardwood in 2005 and 2006, traveling to Kuwait to coach teams of American service members.
“This is another amazing opportunity for Spartan basketball and Michigan State University,” said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. “I’m thankful that ESPN reached out to us to be a part of this great event. Being a part in the first college basketball game to be played on a military base overseas is truly an honor. Playing in the Carrier Classic on the USS Carl Vinson last season provided memories that will last a lifetime, as the historic event was so much more than just a basketball game. The opportunity to honor the great men and women of the US Armed Forces was a humbling experience, as we felt that we got so much more in return than we gave. To now have the opportunity to take our game overseas to servicemen and women serving to protect us is an awesome experience. I’m reminded of my trips to the US bases in Kuwait, and what a life-changing experience that was for me. Everyone associated with the Michigan State basketball program is excited for this unique opportunity.”
“We are excited to host the inaugural SEARS Armed Forces Classic at Ramstein Air Base and it’s an honor to have these championship athletes compete here overseas. Like a champion sports team, maintaining peak capability allows our Airmen to build and keep our competitive edge sharp.” said Brig. Gen. C.K. Hyde, 86th Airlift Wing Commander.
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