It was just a small notice in the briefs column of the local newspaper’s sports section and it’s hardly earth-shaking, but it is interesting – for the first time in their histories, Goldey Beacom College will play the University of Delaware in basketball.
The men’s game will take place next season on Friday, November 11, at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Delaware, but won’t go on sale until October.
The Blue Hens are rebuilding under new coach Martin Ingelsby and they probably won’t be very good next season, but they’ll handle Goldey Beacom without much problem.
But that’s not the point. What counts is that two in-state schools will play against each other.
It’s also interesting because Goldey Beacom – which has been around since Grover Cleveland was president – is a Division II school that has never played a Division I school in a real game. Last season, Goldey played exhibition games against two teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Association (a conference that includes Delaware State) and did well. The Lightning led Coppin State by 15 points before losing 80-73 and they rallied from a 13-point deficit before falling short against Morgan State 66-62.
This, however, will be different, because the game will count and it’s against the big dog in Delaware collegiate athletics. But this match-up makes sense for both teams. For Goldey, it’s a chance to test itself against a bigger and better team and to maybe earn a few more bucks than it would playing a smaller school in a smaller gym. Basically, the Lightning has nothing to lose.
For Delaware, it’s a chance to get a new season under a new coach off to a winning start. The late, great Al McGuire, who led Marquette to a national championship, always made sure his team played, in his words, “East Cupcake State”, in their opener to make sure his team got an easy game under their belts to start the season.
Not that anybody is calling Goldey Beacom a cupcake, but, well, you get the idea.
“We’re excited to have an opportunity to open our season at the University of Delaware,” Goldey Beacom coach Chuck Hammond said. “While we have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to play against Division I colleges in exhibition games, this will be the first time as a regular-season game. I’m hoping the college community will come out and support the Lightning for this special event.” And that brings up an interesting idea for an even more special event – call it the First State Classic. It would match up all of the Delaware colleges, both men’ s and women’s, according to size. Delaware would play Delaware State, Wesley College would play Wilmington University and Delaware Tech would play Goldey Beacom. It would be a weekend-long event at the beginning of the season and tickets could be priced accordingly, with special weekend packages as well as single-game tickets. The logical place to hold the First State Classic would be at the Bob in Newark, but Wilmington also has a nice, new facility that could be used. Everyone would benefit, especially basketball fans around the state who could see all of their teams in one setting. It would give terrific exposure to all of the teams involved, especially the smaller ones, and everyone would even make a little money if the First State Classic was promoted the way it should be, with local businesses getting involved. Big things often have small beginnings, and Delaware playing Goldey Beacom could be the catalyst that gets the ball rolling. The First State Classic would be a great way to open the basketball season and it would be easy to pull off if the schools involved got behind the idea and marketed it properly, and even the teams that lost their games would walk away as winners.