This isn’t your typical basketball trip with a team hopping on a bus to play a game and then head home.
This team traveled halfway across the world.
For the first time ever, a team from China is on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis.
The men’s basketball team from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, is visiting WUSTL through Sunday, Dec. 5, to take part in the 27th annual Lopata Classic basketball tournament.
“When we started the Lopata Classic tournament, we wanted to bring good academic institutions here and let them compete athletically,” says Mark Edwards, head coach of the 2008-2009 Division III national championship WUSTL men’s basketball team.
“At the same time, we wanted to provide all participating teams an experience outside of athletics,” he says. “I think having the Tsinghua team here will add another level of interaction that everyone will benefit from.”
While teams from Chinese universities do come to play in the United States, this situation is unique in that is it not a tour. Tsinghua University is here at the invitation of WUSTL and will not be playing any more games in the United States.
“As far as I know, this is the first time a team from China in any sport has come to play in the St. Louis area,” Edwards says.
The Lopata Classic will be held Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3 and 4, in the Athletic Complex Field House. It is a four-team tournament that includes teams from WUSTL, Tsinghua, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges and Franklin & Marshall College. The Bears will take on Tsinghua at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3.
Tsinghua is one of nine universities in the C9 League in China. Established in 1911, the school describes itself as being dedicated to academic excellence, the well-being of Chinese society and to global development.
It is consistently ranked as one of the best universities in mainland China.
Tsinghua University is one of 25 partner institutions through WUSTL’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy.
“The invitation to the Tsinghua University men’s basketball team, even though it is not strictly an academic endeavor, nevertheless falls under what I feel to be a worthwhile goal of increasing awareness, interaction and friendship of the students at our two schools,” says Frank Yin, PhD, the Stephen F. and Camilla T. Brauer Distinguished Professor, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science and McDonnell Academy ambassador to Tsinghua University.
While here, the Chinese players will meet with WUSTL students; tour the Gateway Arch, the Anheuser-Busch brewery and Busch Stadium; take in a St. Louis Blues hockey game; and sit in on a few classes.
The WUSTL and Tsinghua teams will hold a joint practice run by coaches of both teams at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30.
Tsinghua University has an enrollment of 26,746. The basketball team, which had a 19-2 record last season, is coached by Bo Li.
As one of China’s most renowned universities, Tsinghua has become an important institution for fostering talent and scientific research.
The Lopata Classic is made possible by a gift from the late Stanley Lopata, a Washington University alumnus and emeritus trustee, and his wife, Lucy.
President of Lopata Research and Development Corporation, Stanley Lopata founded and was chairman emeritus of the St. Louis-based Carboline Corp. He also was past president of WUSTL’s William Greenleaf Eliot Society and a recipient of the society’s prestigious Search Award.
For more information on the Lopata Classic tournament, visit bearsports.wustl.edu/Sports/Content/Pages/mcwilliamslopata.aspx.