KNOXVILLE - Tennessee won't open Donnie Tyndall's tenure as its men's basketball coach on an aircraft carrier, as some teams in college hoops have done in recent seasons.
His Volunteers will open the 2014-15 season in a unique setting, however.
In Tyndall's debut, Tennessee will play Virginia Commonwealth at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., as part of the Veterans Classic, a Nov. 14 doubleheader that will be telecast by the CBS College Sports Network.
The Vols and Rams will play at 6:30, with Navy versus Michigan State to follow.
As part of the trip, the Vols will get a glimpse into daily life at the Academy. The team will tour the campus, known as the Yard, watch noon meal formations, attend military demonstrations and receptions and eat lunch with the naval brigade at King Hall.
"First of all, I'm appreciative of Tennessee having the opportunity to be part of an event like this," Tyndall said in the program's release.
"This is something that I believe our fans can be excited about, and it's also going to be a great opportunity for our players -- not only to provide a challenging test for our team early in the season, but also to give them a better appreciation of what life is like for the young men and women who attend our service academies."
The Veterans Classic will run through 2017, and Tennessee will be part of the inaugural event against VCU. The Rams have been a fixture in the NCAA tournament under coach Shaka Smart, who took the program to the Final Four in 2011 in just his second season. Smart, while turning down overtures from numerous programs, is 137-46 in his five seasons at VCU.
"Anyone who knows me knows that I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Smart and everything he's accomplished at this point in his career," Tyndall said. "I love the way his teams compete, and our ability to match their intensity level will be a big key for us when we face them."
Tennessee is 4-0 all-time against VCU, with wins in 1981 in Charlotte, 1990 in Richmond, 1991 in Knoxville and 2010 in the Preseason NIT in New York City.
It's another marquee nonconference game for the Vols, who will host Butler and Kansas State, play at North Carolina State and participate in the Orlando Classic, previously known as the Old Spice Classic, over Thanksgiving weekend along with Kansas, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Xavier, Marquette, Rider and Santa Clara.
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