Lincoln - As the Nebraska basketball program begins its last season at the Devaney Center, one of the most memorable coaches in program history will be honored for his contributions, as Nebraska will host the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic this November.
The Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic will feature seven teams - Nebraska, Kent State, Valparaiso, Tulane, Nebraska-Omaha, Bethune-Cookman and Chicago State - playing four games each over a 10-day period from Nov. 15 to Nov. 24. The Devaney Center will serve as one of the four host sites, and the Huskers will take on Valparaiso (Thursday, Nov. 15), Nebraska-Omaha (Sunday, Nov. 18), Tulane (Wednesday, Nov. 21) and Kent State (Saturday, Nov. 24).
The event honors the many contributions of Joe Cipriano to the Nebraska basketball program. He served as the Huskers' head coach from 1963 until 1980, when he died of cancer just four days short of the start of his 18th season. His teams at Nebraska posted a 253-197 record and made three postseason appearances. He was a three-time Big Eight Coach of the Year (1967, 1978 and 1980) and his 253 wins at the time of his death were 167 more than any previous basketball head coach at Nebraska. Cipriano coached the Huskers to a 20-5 record and a No. 11 national ranking in 1965-66, the Huskers' first winning season in 15 years and the most wins at Nebraska since 1920. The following season, he guided NU to its first postseason appearance, becoming the first Big Eight program to play in the NIT and his 1967-68 squad won the Big Eight Holiday Tournament, Nebraska's only title in the event's history. In the 1970s, his teams finished below the .500 mark only once, while his most successful Husker team was in 1977-78, which tied the school record for wins at the time with a 22-8 mark and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.
According to Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm, naming the event - the first in-season tournament at the Devaney Center since 2005 - after Cipriano was an obvious choice. Cipriano's teams went 44-10 at the Devaney Center in his four seasons in the building when it opened in the fall of 1976.
"When we started planning for the 2012-13 season, we wanted to find ways to recognize some of the memorable people who played a part in the Devaney Center's history, and having the opportunity to name this event after Coach Cipriano was a fitting way to help tip off the season," Boehm said. "His success was instrumental in not only building Nebraska basketball, but also in creating the Devaney Center."
For Joe's son Randy, who served as an assistant coach at Nebraska from 1982 to 1986, the Devaney Center holds many fond memories.
"When Marc first called me, I thought it was fantastic idea." Cipriano said. "I was pleased, and know my dad would thoroughly enjoy it. I think it's a wonderful way to honor the history of Nebraska basketball, and we are proud to be associated with the event. I remember walking through the Devaney Center with my father when it was being built, and thought it was exciting to be a part of it as well as necessary to help Nebraska be successful. I am feeling it again now as our company owns property near Pinnacle Bank Arena, and I am able to watch the progress on the new facility as it is being built."
Nebraska will open the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic against defending Horizon League champion Valparaiso, which finished the 2011-12 season with a 22-12 mark and an NIT appearance. The Crusaders, who have not faced Nebraska since 1920, return Horizon League Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff, who averaged 14.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in 2011-12. Three days later, Nebraska-Omaha makes its first trip to Lincoln since 2006. The Mavericks, who have played Nebraska only twice in program history, finished 11-18 in their first year as a Division I member.
On Nov. 21, the Huskers will welcome the Green Wave of Tulane into the Devaney Center in the first meeting between the schools since 1996. Tulane went 15-16 last year, but returns 11 players, including four starters. The quartet is led by Conference USA Freshman of the Year Ricky Tarrant, who averaged 14.9 points and 3.3 assists per game in 2011-12. The event wraps up on Saturday, Nov. 24, when the Huskers host Kent State. The Golden Flashes are coming off a 21-12 season and appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2011-12. KSU will be a strong test, as the Golden Flashes have won 20 or more games in 12 of the last 13 seasons.
The remainder of the Huskers' 2012-13 non-conference schedule will be announced in the coming days while the Big Ten schedule will be announced soon by the conference office. For more information or to purchase season tickets for Husker basketball, visit Huskers.com or call 800-8-BIGRED.
2012 Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic Schedule
Nov. 15 Nebraska vs. Valparaiso
Nov. 18 Nebraska vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Nov. 21 Nebraska vs. Tulane
Nov. 24 Nebraska vs. Kent State
At Kent State
Nov. 16 Kent State vs. Chicago State
Nov. 18 Kent State vs. Valparaiso
Nov. 20 Kent State vs. Bethune-Cookman
Nov. 13 Tulane vs. Bethune-Cookman
Nov. 16 Tulane vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Nov. 18 Tulane vs. Chicago State
Nov. 23 Bethune-Cookman vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Nov. 23 Valparaiso vs. Chicago State
Nov. 24 Valparaiso Bracket Third-Place Game
Nov. 24 Valparaiso Bracket Championship Game
-- Huskers --