When a business move or decision goes just how its proponents plan, it’s often called a “slam dunk.”
For Centenary College and the Jersey Express, a new partnership is a slam-dunk both literally and figuratively.
Jersey Express, an American Basketball Association (ABA) semi-professional team, will play its 2012-13 home games at the Centenary College basketball facility on Jefferson Street after the two sides came to terms on a deal.
Now that the New Jersey, er… Brooklyn Nets are no longer playing in the Garden State, that leaves the Jersey Express as the only game in town, which could mean a major draw for hoops fans, according to the team’s owner, Marsha Blount.
“We want to become New Jersey’s team,” Blount said. “We want to become a household name. The state hasn’t lost a professional team; it’s lost an NBA team. We’re still here providing quality games and entertainment.
“A lot of these players are on the cusp of taking it to the next level,” Blount continued. “Playing (for the Jersey Express) is an opportunity for the players and coaches to stay with the game. These players are hungry every game; they bring 100-percent effort each time they step on the court, and the fans appreciate that.”
Blount has owned the team since its inception nearly eight years ago, and is excited to bring high-level athletics to the area. The team has spent previous seasons using the Jersey City Armory and Newark athletic centers as its home court.
“I’m excited about joining with Centenary College,” Blount said. “I think it’s great for the community, and it will bring something fresh to the area.”
The coordination of making the local college the home for the Jersey Express didn’t happen by chance, however.
The team’s coach, Joseph Amador, is from the area Blount said, but the connection is even deeper than that.
Blount played on the same softball team as Billie Blackwell, Centenary College’s athletic director who’s been at the school for 16 years.
“(Marsha) approached me about the idea and we took it from there,” Blackwell said about the partnership. “It will hopefully give the campus great exposure.”
It’s that exposure, and opportunity both athletically and academically, that was such a draw for the school, Blackwell said.
“Our teams are a priority for scheduling,” Blackwell said, “but this will be an opportunity for us to showcase our facility and bring the community in to see more of the school.”
Blackwell also said there will be opportunities for students to volunteer with the team, and Sports Management majors may potentially intern with the program as well.
“The partnership is going to be a wonderful experience,” Blount said.
While no plans have been made yet for following seasons, the 2012-13 campaign, for school and team, will be nothing but net.
The Jersey Express will tip-off at home Dec.1, and host a nationally televised game Dec. 8. A meet and greet with the team will be held at Centenary on Nov. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m.