The nearly complete Barclays Center has already announced a full slate of men's college basketball events for the upcoming 2012-13 season, including four LIU-Brooklyn home games, the Legends Classic Championship Rounds in November, December's much-anticipated Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival and the Atlantic-10 Men's Championship Tournament next March.
On Thursday, the Barclays revealed that the first-ever women's basketball game scheduled to be played at the 18,200-seat state-of-the-art facility would be the 2013 Atlantic-10 Women's Basketball Championship Game on March 16.
Unlike the A-10 men's tourney, which will be staged entirely in Downtown Brooklyn, the women's postseason playoff will be held at Michael J. Hagen '86 Arena on the campus of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia from March 8-11. The two teams who emerge from the 12-team field in that competition will lace 'em up on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues for the right to advance to the NCAA Tournament, something the LIU men's team has done in each of the previous two years.
“We have made a commitment to further strengthen the Atlantic 10 as one of the premier women’s basketball conferences in Division I,” stated A-10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. “Without a doubt, relocating our championship game to Barclays Center is a key move in that commitment. It gives our top teams exceptional exposure on one of the biggest stages in the world. We are excited about showcasing A-10 women’s basketball in Brooklyn in March.”
“Barclays Center is proud to announce its first women’s basketball game,” added Sean Saadeh, Vice President of Programming for Barclays Center. “Our venue’s inaugural season will offer a strong lineup of college basketball, culminating with the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships for both the men and women.”
The A-10 Conference sent seven women’s basketball programs to postseason play last season. A-10 Champion Dayton and nationally-ranked St. Bonaventure were among the 64 teams selected to the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, while Charlotte, Duquesne, Richmond, Saint Joseph’s and Temple received invites to the 64-team Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT).
Additionally, the A-10 closed out the 2011-12 campaign ranked ninth among the 31 Division 1 Conferences in the final RPI Report, while six league teams finished among the top 100 RPI teams in the country, including St. Bonaventure (14), Dayton (37), Richmond (46), Temple (52), Saint Joseph’s (66) and Duquesne (91).
Last September, the A-10 formed a five-year partnership with Barclays Center to bring the A-10 men's basketball tournament to Brooklyn. The conference has yet to reveal whether this is the start of a long-term arrangement with the women's title game at Barclays.
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In other Brooklyn-related hoops news, former LIU-Brooklyn men's basketball player Kyle Johnson helped the Great Britain team make history during the recently completed Summer Olympic Games in London last week.
Johnson, who graduated from the Downtown Brooklyn school after helping the Blackbirds reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years in 2011, came off the bench to nail three of his team's 13 3-pointers as the Brits won their first Olympic basketball game since 1948 with a resounding 90-58 rout of China.
Though the Brits finished fifth overall and failed to medal at the Games, Johnson fulfilled a dream by competing in the Olympics and will now move on to compete for Sutor Montegranaro in Italy's top professional basketball league. Last season, the 6-foot-5 forward played for APOEL in Cyprus.