Falcons basketball heading to D3 Hoops Classic in Las Vegas

Posted November 20, 2019

The UW-River Falls men’s basketball team has booked its D3 Hoops Classic trip for December in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The basketball team is scheduled to play games at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas from Friday, Dec. 27, to Monday, Dec. 30. River Falls will play two games during that four-day stretch which will count for its official record for the 2019-2020 regular season.

The first game will be played against New Jersey City University on Dec. 29 and the second game will be against Muskingum University of Ohio the following day, the final day of the tournament.

Matt Keller, the senior point guard for UWRF, has been on two long-distance trips since he started playing basketball at UWRF in the fall of 2016.

“Last year we went to Colorado and a couple of years ago to California,” Keller said. “It was just a really good bonding experience with the guys and kind of makes everyone even more comfortable with each other. It gives us a feeling of unity and trust with one another and helps us buy into the process.”

For Keller, the experience provides a boost to the roster that can be valuable when the Falcons begin playing Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) games shortly after they return from the trip.

“Just to have the guys be together and creating memories with each other will help out chemistry,” Keller said. “It gives our team the opportunity to compete against teams from other states and lets us represent where we come from. So, there’s a sense of pride that results from a trip like this.”

Jeffrey Berkhof, the head coach of the men’s basketball team, said the trip this year wasn’t officially planned during the off-season. The team added the D3 Hoops Classic because it was having trouble finding non-conference opponents.

“Having to find 11 is hard. We try to go on a trip every couple of years. We went to Colorado last year,” Berkhof said. “This would normally be an off-year, but we needed to find two more games. This was sitting there, and it worked in our schedule and I heard really good things about it from other coaches.”

Through tournaments like the D3 Hoops Classic, River Falls will play tough competition that will prepare the Falcons for a difficult conference schedule against WIAC opponents. Berkhof is chasing his third WIAC Tournament Championship since 2007.