State D-III tourney is proud addition

As second Pride of Maryland starts today, eight-team event continues to draw praise

November 21, 2006|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,Sun reporter

Originally an experiment with modest hopes, the Pride of Maryland tournament of Division III men's basketball teams has emerged as an event with potential to become an area tradition.

The second running begins today, with four games at home sites.

According to tournament co-founder and Villa Julie coach Brett Adams, the players are talking about it, it helped get a team into the NCAA tournament, it found a sponsor and it has ambition of creating an event for the women's basketball teams in the state.

Overall, he said it's a good way to unite the state's Division III schools despite their various conferences, which will number four by the 2007-08 season.

"I think we're the only ones doing this," said Adams, whose team won the tournament last year. "Twenty years ago, you had the Mason-Dixon Conference and there was a lot of energy tied into it."

Provident Bank will sponsor the Pride tournament this season, defraying many of the costs while also awarding $1,000 scholarships to each of the eight competing schools.

It's a long way from 2002, when Adams and Johns Hopkins coach Bill Nelson decided to start the event in any form - derived from a New York event with Division III schools near Nelson's former schools, Rochester Tech and Nazareth - after seven years of haggling with fellow schools.

Hoping for just four schools, nine teams responded with interest for last season's tournament, which became a lightning rod for players looking for bragging rights.

"All of the kids know each other," Adams said, "so it's been a big deal with them. They talk about it all year."

Adams also credits the Mustangs' tournament title for their first NCAA tournament appearance in Division III.

"That allowed us to get into the NCAAs," he said. "Because of that, [the selection committee] viewed us as the best team in Maryland."

christian.ewell@baltsun.com

Details are available at www.providentpride.com. For ticket information, call 443-352-4250.

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