Saturday afternoon at the Winthrop Coliseum will be about more than basketball.
The Eagles athletic department will host its first “Hoops for Troops” event to honor members of the military and their immediate families, who can attend both games for free.
Just before the start of the men’s game at 4 p.m., a short ceremony will honor the members of the Army National Guard 178th Combat Engineer Battalion, who returned home in May after their second deployment in Afghanistan.
“We thought it would be a great opportunity to pay tribute,” assistant athletic director Daniel Hopper said.
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Most of the battalion is expected to attend, he said, and plenty of calls have come in from other military groups who plan to be there.
Donations will be collected at the door to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides programs and services to severely injured service members during the time between active duty and their transition back to civilian life.
“The basketball game is just a conduit for this,” Hopper said. “We want (the members of the military) to be the focus to thank them for all that they’ve done for us.”