It’s called the “Cleveland Classic.”
Never heard of it?
There’s a reason for that.
This will be the inaugural Cleveland Classic, which is a college basketball doubleheader played in Rocket Mortgage Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday.
Now, for the interesting part.
The first Cleveland Classic will feature West Virginia University versus Ohio State at noon followed by Marshall University versus Duquesne at 2:30 p.m. (probably closer to 3 p.m.).
It’s a great idea, but it includes an obvious question.
How did all this come to fruition?
“There’s a promoter here in Huntington,” explained Danny D’Antoni, Marshall’s coach. “His name is Bob Patton. He put it together.
“He contacted Mark [MU assistant coach Mark Cline] about putting this together. Mark asked me if I wanted to be a part of it and I said, ‘Yes.’ We went next door [to the Shewey Building] and got it approved.
“Patton is doing the whole thing. He’s a Marshall guy. He has connections to Marshall.”
That’s the tip of the iceberg. Patton is a self-avowed “basketball junkie” who lives in Ona, West Virginia. The Cleveland Classic actually is the fourth collegiate basketball tournament he has promoted. Patton’s resume also includes the Las Vegas Invitational, South Padre Island Invitational in Texas and the Chicago Invitational.
Patton notwithstanding, the key to his basketball doubleheader was Duquesne.
“The biggest thing is Duquesne contacted me,” explained Cline, who does all of Marshall’s basketball scheduling. “They were supposed to come here this year.
“They asked if we would be interested in playing a doubleheader in Cleveland with West Virginia. They said they would be able to come back here the following year and just extend the four-year contract to make it basically five.
“I went through Coach [D’Antoni] and Duquesne agreed to give us $50,000 to move the game up there [Cleveland] and make us a part of it. Then, Jeff O’Malley [MU associate director of athletics] went to Mike Hamrick [MU athletic director] and instead of having a third ‘buy’ game [games such as at Notre Dame and at the University of Florida which pay $90,000 guarantees] they allowed Duquesne to count as the third ‘buy’ game.
“That’s kind of how it all happened. It was all initiated through me from Duquesne, but I know Bob [Patton] had some things to do with it with Mike and Jeff and probably Duquesne. But I never personally spoke with him.”
Long story short, we’ve got a very interesting doubleheader on Sunday in Cleveland.
“You’ve got Ohio State and West Virginia,” said D’Antoni. “The Cavs’ Center [the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers also play in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse] is really ... well, you can’t play at West Virginia University and you can’t play at Ohio State, so the Cavs’ Center is the perfect venue.
“It’s close enough all four teams can get there. It’s a pretty good venue.”
The Cleveland Classic certainly does make geographical sense.
“I like this doubleheader,” said D’Antoni. “I think it’s good. I think it’s good for basketball. It will be a good Sunday afternoon. That’s one of my favorite arenas [from his days as an assistant coach in the NBA].
“I thought it was a good deal, so we jumped at it. We’re getting $50,000. When they told me that, I said, ‘We’d be crazy not to go.’ This is a win-win.”
Indeed, it is.
Let’s hope the first Cleveland Classic isn’t the last one.