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ROTC BASKETBALL: Air Force hoops comes back to the Joyce Center

Joe Meixell | Friday, February 4, 2005

Some of the highest flyers in college basketball are bringing their games to the Joyce Center this weekend.

And, while Illinois, Kansas and Duke will not be coming to South Bend any time soon, 56 other teams will be here Saturday, competing for honor, respect and first place as the Notre Dame Air Force ROTC Detachment hosts the 19th annual Flying Irish Basketball Invitational. The weekend-long tournament is the largest ROTC athletic event in the nation, and 40 men’s and 16 women’s teams from across the country have come for the chance to win it all.

With all the traveling to get to the event, the two teams with most to prove and the most to lose won’t have to go anywhere in order to get to their games. Representing the ND Air Force detachment, the men’s and women’s A-teams are both defending tournament champions.

With regards to this weekend, the Air Force teams are very clear about their competitive expectations.

“I want a repeat,” men’s A-team co-captain Tim Kogge said.

Based on his evaluations of his team’s talents, Kogge is confident that his goal will become tournament reality.

“We’ve got a solid team,” he said. “We have a solid core group of guys, and I think we are the perennial favorite.”

However, the A-team may face some tough challenges on the road to defending their title in the championship game, which will be held at 12:30 Sunday afternoon, directly following the women’s final. The ROTC units from Purdue, Marquette and Colorado have been putting together quality teams for years, and have all come with the same goal – victory.

“Colorado has a solid and physical team,” Kogge said.

Before thinking of the championship, each team has to make it out of its respective bracket, all of which have been named for famous people in Notre Dame history. Teams play 3 bracket games today and Saturday, with the playoffs being played on Sunday leading up to the final.

While the finished product is what the teams have come for, the production behind the scenes may be the most remarkable part of the weekend.

“I am always impressed by the professional organization skills of the cadets setting up [for the tournament]” Kogge said.

Whether or not they win, the cadets have made the journey to South Bend to make some new friends and above all enjoy themselves for a few days.

“I love basketball, and [the event] is a lot of fun,” Kogge said.