The summer edition of This Week in Great Lakes Basketball is proud to announce the inaugural Great Lakes Invitational! Details are included in the show as well as below. In the interview corner I sat back down with Anderson Head Coach Owen Handy (12:50) as we took the time to talk about off season activities, recruiting, as well as his squad's recent foreign trip to the Dominican Republic. Also joining me is Marietta SR A.J Edwards (52:35). We discuss his monster JR year where he racked up numerous awards including becoming the first Marietta 1st Team All-American. We finish up with a preview of how he is preparing for his final season in the navy blue and white.
2017 Great Lakes Invitational
MARIETTA, Ohio — The NCAA Division III men’s basketball world will be focused on Ban Johnson Arena the weekend of November 17-18, 2017, as Marietta College hosts the inaugural Great Lakes Invitational.
The brainchild of Ryan Whitnable, a Marietta College alum and creator of the This Week in Great Lakes Basketball Podcast, the Invitational will bring together eight nationally prominent programs for two days of NCAA Tournament-caliber games.
“Our goal is for the Great Lakes Invitational to become one of the premier events in Division III basketball,” Whitnable said. “The field that we’ve put together is a who’s who of the nation’s top programs, including this year’s national champion.”
The tournament field includes four teams from the Great Lakes Region and four from around the country. Representing the Great Lakes Region will be Marietta College, Hope College (Mich.), Mount St. Joseph University and Wittenberg University.
The remaining four teams include the reigning national champions from the University of St. Thomas (Minn.), Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.), Dickinson College (Pa.) and St. John Fisher College (N.Y.).
“To be honest, when Ryan first approached me with his vision for a national level tournament, I had my doubts that he would be able to pull it off,” Marietta head coach Jon VanderWal said. “Not only did he pull it off, but in less than three months he was able to put together a field that includes five teams who made the NCAA Tournament this year, including the national champions.
“I am beyond thrilled to be hosting this event for several reasons,” VanderWal continued. “This is a great opportunity for our program to see how we compare with some of the top teams in the country as we strive for our ultimate goal of winning a national championship. And, I couldn’t be happier for our fans. We have received such tremendous support from the Marietta Community and they deserve the chance to see this level of basketball in Ban Johnson Arena.”
The Invitational will feature four games each day. The final game schedule will be released at a later date along with other tournament information including tickets and streaming information.
“As an alum of Marietta College, having the inaugural event in Ban Johnson Arena means a tremendous amount to me,” Whitnable said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the city and campus to shine again on a national stage.”
What the participating coaches are saying about the Great Lakes Invitational:
“We are very excited to take part in the inaugural Great Lakes Invitational. We strive to find a high level of competition for our schedule outside of the Southern Athletic Association, and the Great Lakes Invitational organizers have gathered a tremendous group of teams from around the country. We are looking forward to a great event.”
Chris Graves, Head Coach
“Dickinson is thrilled to be a part of the inaugural Great Lakes Invitational to be held at Marietta College. We are always looking to compete against the best competition at the Division III level and the GLI will create such an opportunity. The Great Lakes Region is one of the strongest in the nation and we look forward to testing ourselves to begin the 2017-18 season.”
Alan Seretti, Head Coach
“We are excited to be a part of such an outstanding inaugural event and compete against some of the best Division III programs in the country. Early season games such as these will definitely benefit our schedule strength but more importantly, we will get an early glimpse of where we are as a team. Our players thrive on the great competition. I’m very appreciative of the legwork that Ryan (Whitnable) has done to make this happen!”
Greg Mitchell, Head Coach
“When Ryan (Whitnable) presented this idea to me and asked if we’d be interested, I didn’t hesitate. Ryan’s done a great job of putting together a strong field for the first Great Lakes Invitational and we are honored to be able to participate. We have always tried to play high caliber teams in our non-conference schedule to help prepare for the regular season and conference tourney. The Great Lakes Invitational will definitely give us the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the nation.”
Toby Carrigan, Head Coach
Mount St. Joseph University
“What a tremendous honor to be asked to participate in the 2017 Great Lakes Invitational Men’s Basketball Tournament. Not only are we looking forward to a weekend of great competition, but we are very excited to see seven other first rate basketball programs. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the Division III talent around the country and it is going to be equally as exciting seeing eight really good programs compete. Although we know it will be very challenging, we always tray to schedule the best possible teams outside of our conference to see where we measure out. This tournament will provide a great test for that.”
Rob Kornaker, Head Coach
St. John Fisher College
“We are thrilled to be invited to the inaugural Great Lakes Invitational in 2017-18. The list of teams reads like a who’s who in Division III basketball. Playing top competition nationally has consistently been one of the hallmarks of our preseason schedule that has prepared us well for conference and NCAA competition. Whether it is top Division II or III schools, our players relish the challenge of playing teams from around the country that we rarely see.”
Johnny Tauer, Head Coach
University of St. Thomas
“We are really looking forward to partaking in a tournament with teams with such rich tradition. This will be a great opportunity to showcase our team and compete against some of the best teams around. This means a lot to us as a university, as the region that we will be competing in is full of tradition and history.”
Matt Croci, Head Coach