Men’s Basketball: Blue Raiders celebrate Christmas a little differently this season

Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are experiencing a unique opportunity this holiday season, as they are participating in the Diamond Head Classic tournament in Hawaii this season.

In most seasons, college teams play their pre-conference tournament during the week or weekend of Thanksgiving. This year is different for MTSU, as their tournament takes place almost a whole month after they would usually play.

For many players, this unique experience will be an opportunity to bond with their teammates and experience the Christmas holiday in one of the world’s most quintessential vacation spots, while playing against top-notch competition and the chance to improve their resume for the end of the season.

On the basketball side of things, the Blue Raiders have a chance to play three straight games against three NCAA tournament teams from last season. On Friday, they defeated the defending Ivy League champions when they took down the Princeton Tigers in a 69-67 thriller. MTSU will have another opportunity on Saturday against USC at 3:30 p.m. The Trojans were ranked in the top 10 to begin the season, and have been one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 conference.

If the Blue Raiders escape that game, they will have an even bigger opportunity against the currently undefeated and sixth-ranked Miami Hurricanes.

When it comes to spending Christmas in Hawaii, some players had their families accompany them for the trip and are getting to enjoy a special and unique Christmas holiday.

“It is great spending Christmas in Hawaii because my family is here with me,” said senior Ed Simpson. “The weather is great, and I’m playing the sport I love. It’s like we’re still having our Christmas tradition, just without the cold.”

Sophomore guard Chase Miller is also excited to spend this holiday with his coaches and teammates in a place like Hawaii.

“This Christmas is special because I get to spend it with my family away from home,” Miller said. “Getting to spend Christmas with my teammates and coaches will be something I never forget.”

Blue Raiders share favorite Christmas memories

Like many of us, the members of the team share many similar Christmas traditions.

For junior forward Karl Gamble, his favorite tradition was always getting a gift one day early.

“My family has a tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve,” Gamble said.

For Miller, his favorite tradition was always the time he got to spend with his family.

“My favorite Christmas tradition has to be always getting to spend time with the family,” Miller said. “Being able to relax with family, while watching football and eating good food is always great.”

Simpson shares a similar favorite holiday tradition as Miller.

“My favorite tradition is watching ‘A Christmas Story’ with my family and watching the NBA  games that are played on Christmas day,” Simpson said.

Even with all unique traditions these players have during this time of year, this year’s will be a very special experience as they spend it playing the game they love in an exotic location.

Follow MTSU Sports Reporter Elijah Campbell on Twitter at @E_Campbell3

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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