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  • Ian Livingston Brooking

Coastal Carolina prepares to host Myrtle Beach Invitational

Coastal Carolina University is set to host the 2018 Myrtle Beach Invitational at the HTC Center on campus on Nov. 15-16. and Nov. 18. The tournament will feature eight teams: Cal State Fullerton, Monmouth, St. Joseph’s, Central Florida, Valparaiso, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky and West Virginia. West Virginia is entering the 2018-2019 college basketball season ranked 13th in the nation.

The City of Myrtle Beach and Coastal Carolina University was granted the opportunity to host the 2018 Myrtle Beach Invitational after the way the City of Myrtle Beach and Coastal handled the quick turnaround that came with hosting the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

After hurricanes ravaged Puerto Rico in September 2017, ESPN Events were searching for a place to host the tournament. They looked to Coastal Carolina and the Myrtle Beach community and both graciously accepted.

Matt Hogue, Director of Athletics at Coastal Carolina University, talked about how the frenzy that was last year’s tournament helped prepare the campus and those involved for this year’s tournament.

“I am very proud to have this event because not only is this event a way to showcase our campus but I think the reason we have it this year is because of the way we exhibited ourselves last year in taking in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and those conditions at the last minute,” said Hogue. “We exhibited what we could with an event like this and we did that very well across the board. Our efforts were recognized by ESPN Events and their officials and the schools that came and played here last year and that is why I think we were given this event permanently.”

Hogue also praised the University’s work with the City of Myrtle Beach and how both have come together to help put on and coordinate this event.

“[Coastal] has always been a part of the City of Myrtle Beach’s effort to increase sports tourism,” said Hogue. “Last year was certainly a concrete example of that.”

Hogue noted that there is much excitement for this year’s Myrtle Beach Invitational. Tickets for the event are already sold out.

“The tickets being sold out is a testament to the teams participating in the event,” said Hogue.

This isn’t the first time that Coastal Carolina has hosted a major tournament at the HTC Center. In 2014 and 2015, the campus played host to the Big South Conference Tournament, which saw Coastal’s men’s basketball team win it all both years and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two decades.

In 2017, the HTC Center played host to the 2017 ACC Women’s Basketball tournament. That tournament featured seven AP Top 25 teams, including the number two team in the country in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and legendary head coach Muffet McGraw.

While Hogue expects the crowds to be larger than last year’s Puerto Rico Tip-Off, he says that the campus is prepared,

“This is not our first rodeo,” said Hogue. “We take our model based on events that we previously held and adjust it the latest event that is being held on campus. We already run basketball games. Now, we have to prepare to run four games in one day.”

The Myrtle Beach Invitational tips off at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the HTC Center with Saint Joseph’s taking on Wake Forest. That game will be followed by Central Florida and Cal State Fullerton at 1:30 p.m.

The later games on the night of Nov. 15 will be Western Kentucky taking on Valparaiso at 5 p.m. And West Virginia gets the primetime game at 7 p.m. as the Mountaineers go up against Monmouth. All games will be televised on an ESPN platform (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU or ESPN+).

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