Vols Will Open Hoops Season Vs. VCU At Veterans Classic In Annapolis

Navy To Play Michigan In Second Game In Midshipmen's Alumni Hall

Monday, June 9, 2014 - by Special to Chattanoogan.com
New Tennessee basketball coach will make his regular-season debut on Nov.  14 against Virginia Commonwealth in the Veterans Classic at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
New Tennessee basketball coach will make his regular-season debut on Nov. 14 against Virginia Commonwealth in the Veterans Classic at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
- photo by Tennessee Athletics

NEW YORK -- The Tennessee basketball team's first regular-season opponent under new head coach Donnie Tyndall will be Virginia Commonwealth, as the Volunteers face the Rams Friday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. ET as part of a unique doubleheader event known as the Veterans Classic at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

The inaugural Veterans Classic - which celebrates Veterans Day and will be played at Navy's Alumni Hall - also will feature a matchup between Navy and Michigan State (9 p.

m. ET).

As part of the event, the Vols will have the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of what life is like as a midshipman at the Naval Academy. From touring the `Yard,' to watching noon meal formation and eating lunch with the Brigade at King Hall, the team will be immersed in the culture and tradition of the Naval Academy. The Vols also will enjoy other unique experiences, including military demonstrations and receptions.

"First of all, I'm appreciative of Tennessee having the opportunity to be part of an event like this," Tyndall said. "This is something that I believe our fans can be excited about, and it's also going to be a great opportunity for our players - not only to provide a challenging test for our team early in the season, but also to give them a better appreciation of what life is like for the young men and women who attend our service academies."

The Veterans Classic will take place each year through 2017, with Navy hosting and participating, along with other top teams from across the country. The doubleheader officially tips off CBS Sports Network's 2014 college basketball schedule.

Under head coach Shaka Smart, VCU posted a 26-9 (12-4 A-10) record last season and made the program's fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Rams advanced to the Final Four in 2011 and reached the third round in both 2012 and 2013.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Smart and everything he's accomplished at this point in his career," Tyndall said. "I love the way his teams compete, and our ability to match their intensity level will be a big key for us when we face them."

Tennessee leads its all-time series with VCU 4-0, dating to 1981. The most recent meeting saw the Vols post a 77-72 victory in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden in New York City Nov. 24, 2010.

The Veterans Classic marks the Volunteers' second straight season-opener away from Knoxville. Tennessee opened last season at Xavier. Prior to that contest, the Big Orange had opened 13 straight seasons at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Each of UT's last nine head coaches, dating to the legendary Ray Mears, won their first-ever regular-season game with the Vols.

In addition to facing VCU on a neutral court next season, UT hosts Butler and Kansas State, plays NC State on the road and joins Georgia Tech, Kansas, Marquette, Michigan State, Rider, Santa Clara and Xavier in the eight-team field at the Orlando Classic Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 27-30) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.

For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee basketball program, visit UTsports.com/basketball and follow @Vol_Hoops on Twitter and Instagram.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)

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