This fall, the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight program will mark a decade highlighting the mission of Jesuit education through basketball with two Jesuit Basketball Classics, played by four men's and women's teams. On Friday, Dec. 1, Gonzaga University will host Creighton University in a nationally televised men's matchup on ESPN2; that same weekend, on Sunday, Dec. 3, Boston College will host Fairfield University in a women's contest that will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.
"One of the best parts of every basketball season is tracking the performance of the Jesuit schools across the country," stated ESPN bracketologist and JBS co-founder, Joe Lunardi. "For 10 years, we've been able to showcase just how good these schools really are - on and off the court."
The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight (JBS) was founded by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in 2008 in response to member institutions' desire to share the message of Jesuit higher education through the more than 80 basketball games in which Jesuit institutions play each other every season. In addition to sharing a rich academic and spiritual tradition, all 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities have men's and women's basketball teams that have produced student-athletes who live out Jesuit values every day.
Jesuit men's basketball alumni include Bob Cousy (College of the Holy Cross), Bill Russell (University of San Francisco), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown University), John Stockton (Gonzaga) and Doug McDermott (Creighton). Women's basketball alumni from Jesuit schools include WNBA stars Natasha Cloud (Saint Joseph's University), Ta'Shia Phillips (Xavier University) Courtney Vandersloot (Gonzaga), Carolyn Swords (Boston College) and Sugar Rodgers (Georgetown). There are more than 2 million alumni of the 28 schools worldwide, including 10 percent of the members of the 115th U.S. Congress.
"We at Gonzaga are delighted to host the Creighton University Bluejays in the inaugural Jesuit Basketball Classic," said Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh. "The success of our student-athletes, and the corresponding media attention, provide a portal through which the public can learn more about Jesuit education and its centuries-old promise - more relevant now than ever - of excellence in academic and professional pursuits and the intentional development of the whole person - intellectually, spiritually, culturally, physically and emotionally. Regardless of the outcome, we are excited to highlight the remarkable impact of Jesuit education in our country."
Fans who attend both the men's and women's Jesuit Basketball Classics will see videos on Jesuit education and Jesuit basketball on in-arena video boards; learn about the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges and universities at information tables; receive Jesuit basketball posters; and much more.
Erik Johnson, head coach of the Boston College women's basketball team, said, "We are honored to be featured in this match-up with a strong and well-coached Fairfield program. The Jesuit ideals of service, bringing out the best in others, and making the world a better place will be displayed in the play of both teams. The actions of the special student athletes at Boston College and at Fairfield will be a credit to the Jesuit community."
The 10th anniversary JBS season will also see the inaugural Jesuit Basketball Spotlight Week of Service. Throughout the Christmas break, men's and women's basketball teams from NCAA Division II, III and NAIA Jesuit schools will host clinics and team photo and autograph events for local children in their communities. This week of service was organized by the schools' athletic directors, who have sought to create meaningful opportunities for their student-athletes in the Jesuit tradition of service to others.
This month, fans of Jesuit basketball will get a behind-the-scenes look at JBS with JBS sports information analyst Brian Larkin of Santa Clara University; Larkin will appear on the new podcast, Jesuitical, sponsored by America during the week of Nov. 15. Later in the season, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi will appear as a guest on Jesuitical as well.
To see a full schedule of all Jesuit matchups for the 2017-18 season, and learn more about the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight program, visit jesuitbasketball.com.
(From: American Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities)