During their trip to Jamaica for the Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic, the Central Connecticut men's basketball team has had the opportunity to not only play basketball in front of a foreign crowd, but the team members have been able to gain the experience of exposure to a foreign culture. The Blue Devils have been able to take a break in the schedule of games, practices, and study hall to venture outside Montego Bay for hands-on educational experiences.
CCSU traveled to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for the event and after arriving for their first full day in the country the team practiced at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The team also participated in a tip-off banquet for the tournament, which included all eight participating teams for an evening dinner and program. The event included remarks from event organizers, and Jamaica government, sports and tourism officials that touched upon the importance of expanding the reach of basketball in the country and benefits of bringing tourists to the island. This season's field for the second annual event, includes two programs coached by former NBA starts (CCSU, Donyell Marshall; Georgetown, Patrick Ewing). Furthermore, Ewing is a native of Jamaica.
"The opportunity to bring our program to play in the Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic is beneficial for everyone," said Marshall. "It's a chance to bring the game of basketball to the people of another country, while also giving our guys the chance to see another country and be exposed to another culture. They get the benefit of playing quality basketball opponents, but hopefully also take away some experiences from visiting a different country."
The Blue Devils tipped off the Jamaica Classic on Friday, Nov. 16, in the first game of the event. In front of a crowd of fans that included not only friends and family, local schoolchildren provided an enthusiastic audience for the game against Austin Peay. The contest came down to the final seconds, before CCSU came up just short in an 80-78 setback.
Prior to a late afternoon practice on Saturday, the Central student-athletes had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with dolphins and stingrays and ride camels at Dolphin Cove. The cultural excursion gave the Blue Devils a chance to experience the intelligence and love of these amazing marine mammals in their natural environment. The team was exposed to their agility and playfulness, while having the opportunity to hold, touch and dance with them. The time spent with the dolphins included learning about how they are trained, how long they live and how much they eat on a daily basis, while visiting the mammals in an area of their natural habitat.
On the court in Jamaica, the event has given the Blue Devils opportunities to play against opponents from the Ohio Valley Conference (Austin Peay) and the MEAC (Florida A&M). Following the contests in Jamaica, Central will travel to Loyola Marymount for another game part of the event. CCSU also played at Georgetown earlier this season as part of the tournament.
The Blue Devils are back in action on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 9:00 p.m. against Florida A&M. The game concludes the Jersey Mike's Jamaica Classic and will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.