STROHECKER: Spartans face unique test against Division I Mount St. Mary's
- York College will face Division I Mount St. Mary's on Tuesday.
- The Spartans are 6-31 all-time in games against Division I programs and 0-7 all-time against the Mounts.
- York is 2-0 after winning the Hilton Scranton Invitational, while Mount St. Mary's is 1-3.
York College men's basketball coach Matt Hunter knew what was looming for his team's third game of the season.
Talking to him on Friday morning, he refused to look ahead. Hunter and the rest of the Spartans were on their way up to Scranton to take part in their season-opening tournament, the Hilton Scranton Invitational.
With two games in two days looming, Hunter couldn't allow his players to look ahead to a game that is surely unique.
"We will turn our focus to Mount St. Mary's on Sunday," Hunter said on Friday ahead of the team's opener. "Do they know it's out there? Yes. Is it exciting? Sure. It's a unique opportunity, but it's nothing we've addressed or even talked about with our team at this point."
To his and the team's credit, they didn't look ahead, rolling through both games to win the tournament championship and open the season 2-0. A 101-89 win on Friday, Nov. 17 against Pitt-Bradford was followed by an 84-70 victory in the title game vs. host Scranton on Saturday.
Now that those games have passed, all eyes can be on focused on York's next opponent, Mount St. Mary's, a Division I program that plays in the Northeast Conference.
History vs. Division I teams: In the history of the men's basketball program, the Spartans have faced Division I opponents 37 times, according to records provided by York College Athletics.
In those 37 match-ups, York has won six times, a less than 17 percent winning percentage. Of course, for a Division III program to come away with six wins against Division I programs, that isn't too bad, considering the financial differences between levels.
This will be the eighth meeting all-time between the Spartans and the Mounts, with York never defeating the Emmitsburg, Maryland-based school. The two teams haven't faced each other since Nov. 21, 1982. Finding the first win in the series might be a stretch this season for the Spartans, considering Mount St. Mary's is coming off a NEC championship last season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
But, so far this year, the Mounts are just 1-3, with their lone win coming in their latest game, an 84-81 win over North Florida on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Mount St. Mary's hasn't played an easy schedule to date, either, suffering losses to Marquette, No. 13 Notre Dame and Georgetown. The two defeats to the Golden Eagles and the Fighting Irish, as well as the team's win over the Ospreys, came as part of the Maui on the Mainland, which is part of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
Creating a match-up: That tournament is how York came to get a Division I team on its schedule, being the fourth and final game that the Mounts will play in the early-season tournament.
The main draw of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational will begin on Monday, Nov. 20 and end on Wednesday, Nov. 22. Leading up to it, some of the teams will take part in the Maui on the Mainland portion, where the teams will host other teams prior to the main draw beginning in Hawaii.
Mount St. Mary's had to travel for all three of its first three games in the Maui on the Mainland, but, will get to host its last game. According to Hunter, the Mounts' fourth opponent fell through and the program was still looking for a team in August.
York assistant coach, Jon Showers, is close friends with an assistant on Mount St. Mary's coaching staff and the two got in touch to help make the game happen, according to Hunter.
Like in most instances when smaller programs will agree to games against bigger teams, the Spartans will be compensated, although Hunter didn't disclose the exact dollar amount his program will receive.
Measuring stick: According to records provided by York College, this will be the first game the men's team has played against a Division I team since 1984-85. In that season, the Spartans went 1-2 in three match-ups against Division I sides.
While the game for York won't count toward its record and, instead, be considered an exhibition, it will count toward the Mounts' record.
However, Hunter sees a game of this stature as a way for his players to get a sense of where they stack up against a squad of higher talent and challenge itself.
"It's fun to challenge yourself against really good teams," Hunter said. "Obviously we're playing against a team that has 13 or 14 full scholarships, so it's a little different. You get to play in that environment and we want to put all our players in chances to challenge themselves and grow and get better, so it's a unique opportunity that we're able to take advantage of. It's great for our program and great for our players that are here now."
The game will tip at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Mount St. Mary's Knott Arena.
YORK COLLEGE ALL-TIME HISTORY VS. DIVISION I PROGRAMS
Delaware State (1-7)
George Mason (4-4)
Loyola (Md.) (0-4)
Mt. St. Mary (0-7)
(Records provided by York College Athletics)
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com