While everyone else at Marquette was sitting by their-lonely-selves this past weekend, the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program sent 18 of its finest basketball players to the Notre Dame Flyin’ Irish Tournament. As the country’s largest basketball tournament for ROTC teams, the Navy Men and Women’s teams competed against 53 other Navy and Marine Corps, Army and Air Force teams and both brought some hardware back to Milwaukee.
The tournament is set up in a bracket formation in which brackets of four teams play against each other for the chance to move on. For the men there were eleven brackets which automatically sent the best team into the single elimination tournament, while sending the five next best teams. The women had only eight brackets, and only the bracket winners were deemed worthy to move on.
The men’s team began the trip with a dominating 39 point victory over University of Indiana’s Air Force, and then beat the “Instant Thunder” of Virginia Polytechnic Institute (or, more commonly known as Virginia Tech) with a convincing 11 point victory. Finally, Marquette Navy men towered over Western Michigan with an impressive 75-25 victory which the sent the men’s team riding high into the playoffs. In the first round of the playoffs, the men lost 43-27 to rival Wisconsin-Madison’s Air Force ROTC team in one of the most physical games of the entire tournament. Senior Joe Beres’ expectation of the game did not match up with the result, “We sought retribution for our varsity team’s pre-season 73-62 loss over Wisconsin, but that didn’t quite pan out. Still, it was a fun and fulfilling experience.” What are you going to do now, Joe? “I’m going to Disneyworld.”
The Navy women on the other hand swiftly defeated opponents Michigan, Iowa State, and Illinois Institute of Technology. Then in the first round of the playoffs, the Navy women beat South Dakota State (a team that prevented their chances from going to the playoffs in 2009) by 18. In the championship round for the women, Marquette Navy lost a heartbreaker to previous tournament winner IUPUI. Despite the loss, captain DonnaJo Meyer said of her team, “We did a really good job improving from our first game to our last. We played a very athletic team [in the championship], but stayed calm and collected, and our three freshmen players [Courtney Martin, Aracely Macias, Nikkol Rajkovacz] really stepped up.” The number one seeded Navy women lost by 3 points, with a final score of 28-25.
Marquette Navy won seven of nine overall and outscored their opponents by over 120 points. Notable players included monster-rebounder Theodore Linn and finesse sharpshooter Michael Tomsic on the men’s side, and offensive powerhouse Courtney Martin and defense-penetrating DJ Meyer on the Women’s. This year’s teams brought home three trophies, two for division wins (men and women) and one for the women’s runner-up. To add to the success of this year’s Notre Dame tournament showing was the varsity team’s exciting 70-68 finish over UConn, Marquette’s third win against ranked opponents. Oh, and it was AT UConn.
Next year look for Marquette’s Navy teams to do even better, with only a total of three seniors graduating this May. At this rate, they might be able to get themselves a champion’s trophy.