The great tradition of Hope College men's basketball will never be more apparent than next week when the Flying Dutchmen host the 11th annual Russ DeVette Holiday Classic on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 28-29.
The tournament is named in honor of Russ DeVette, coach of the Flying Dutchmen for a quarter of a century until his retirement from basketball coaching in 1977. DeVette is the cornerstone around which Hope's successful program has been built. He guided the Flying Dutchmen to nine MIAA championships while posting 322-233 record.
This year's tournament will have an added special meaning because Hope will be playing its 500th game at the storied Holland Civic Center. Many of those games were coached by DeVette. Since playing its first game at the Civic Center in November, 1954, the Dutchmen have posted a 396-103 record, a winning clip of 79%. Hope has had a losing home mark only twice in 45 seasons and are 3-1 at the Civic this year. Hope's first round game on Tuesday against Tri-State University of Angola, Ind. will be the 500th.
Games on Tuesday will pit Cornerstone (9-5) against Rochester, Mich. (4-12) at 6 p.m. followed by Hope (4-4) against Tri-State (9-5) at 8 p.m.
Just prior to the Hope/Tri-State game on Tuesday a commemorative photo will be taken. It will be distributed as a poster at the Wednesday games courtesy of Steketee-Van Huis, Inc. and The Printery.
There will also be special halftime promotions in connection with the Downtown Holland Celebration 2000 event to be held New Years Eve.
Hope will play Wednesday at 8 p.m. no matter the outcome on the Tuesday game. The other Wednesday game will begin at 6 p.m.
Hope and Cornerstone have played in every DeVette Classic while Tri-State is making its third appearance and Rochester the first.
Last year Cornerstone defeated Hope 70-67 in the championship game. The Golden Eagles went on to win the NAIA national championship. Hope has won the DeVette Classic championship six times while Cornerstone has been the winner three times. Tri-State was runnerup in 1993 and finished third in 1997.
The traditional pre-tournament luncheon will be held Tuesday (Dec. 28) at noon in the Maas Center auditorium. Advance reservations can be made by calling the Hope College Office of Public Relations, 395-7860.
While the tournament traditionally draws large crowds to the games, there will be plenty of general admission tickets available at the Civic Center each night.