Saturday, May 1, 2004

Xavier, UC alumni face off in annual charity game

Classic Shootout

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It was just supposed to be a scrimmage, some former University of Cincinnati guys playing against former Xavier University guys in front of a few dozen people.

That was the idea that former UC player Alex Meacham mentioned to his business partner, former Xavier player Sherwin Anderson, during a phone call more than three years ago. The scrimmage never happened, however, because Anderson suggested they put on a full-fledged UC-XU alumni charity game. The idea stuck, and at 3 p.m. today, the alumni rivalry game is set for its third annual tipoff at Roger Bacon High School.

Players such as Xavier's Byron Larkin and Cincinnati's Terry Nelson will return to the court to take-on their once-hated rivals. The blood-boiling feelings certainly mellowed over the years, and most players carry 20 or more pounds more than they did in college, but winning is still the main objective - even when it's for charity. Former Xavier players have won the first two games, and last year three UC players received technical fouls.

"When we call these guys up to play, we tell them it's for the kids," Anderson said. "But that just shows you how intense it is. There's guys battling out there. Byron Larkin, he always hates to lose. (Cincinnati's) Curtis Bostic gets into it with one of the post guys every year."

The game, officially known as the Classic Shootout, has grown since Anderson and Meacham first envisioned it. The first year, it drew fewer than 100 to Xavier's Schmidt Fieldhouse when the two business partners ran the event without any outside help. This year, they secured sponsorship for the game from Fifth Third Bank and Cintas Corp. and have 15 volunteer staffers to handle a crowd expected to be larger than 1,500 people. Tickets will be sold at the door for $12.

"The impact of the sponsors is huge," said Anderson, who puts on the game to raise money for his youth basketball organization, Shining Star Sports. "A lot of people have ulterior motives for these types of games. All our funds are for our kids. Our sponsors are saying we have a good cause."

The game lacks sanctioning from the NBA, which means alumni such as UC's Nick Van Exel or Xavier's David West won't be playing.

"We're doing the research on what it would take to get on board with the NBA," Anderson said. "It's definitely realistic to plan for that because of the support we're getting from sponsors."

If you go

When: 3 p.m. today.

Where: Roger Bacon High School.

Tickets: Available at the door for $12.



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