Fort Myers, Fla. – FGCU men’s basketball Head Coach Dave Balza announced the 2007-08 schedule today. The slate features eight games against teams that participated in postseason play last year. The schedule also features 11 home games and games against teams from the Big East, Pac-10, Big 10 and Missouri Valley conferences.
“The home games we have should certainly be exciting for our fans,” stated Balza. “Penn and Butler will be fighting to get back to the NCAA tournament this year and Drexel, our home opener this year, should have made the tournament last year. It will also be a challenge for us to play a conference schedule for the first time as well. The Atlantic Sun is a great fit for us and having three other teams from our state will help build rivalries for us.”
The Eagles home opener is against a somewhat familiar foe in Drexel (23-9). Last season, the Eagles faced the Dragons in the opener for both squads. Drexel returns a pair of starters from a team that has advanced to postseason play four times in the last five years. The Eagles also host Butler and Penn at Alico Arena. Butler returns four starters from a team that spent most of last season ranked among the top-25 and advanced to the Sweet 16. Penn, 22-9 in the 2006-07 season is looking to win their fourth straight Ivy League Championship. Butler travels to Alico Arena on December 22 while Penn will visit one week later on the 29th.
The Eagles will also compete in the 2007 South Padre Island Invitational that will match the Eagles with Big 10 power Iowa as well as Missouri Valley favorite Bradley. FGCU will also face an Austin Peay squad which returns all five starters and went through the Ohio Valley Conference with an undefeated record last year in the event. Both Bradley and Austin Peay advanced to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) last season.
Other non-conference highlights include a trip to Arizona State, who has one of the nation’s top-20 recruiting classes according to several national publications. The Eagles close the season at Big East power Marquette. The Warriors are one of four teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament last season on the FGCU schedule this year.
“When the school decided to go Division I, we envisioned playing teams from the Pac-10, Big 10 and Big East and other major conferences,” said Balza. “Even outside of the major conferences, we still have a number of prominent schools on the schedule that will visit the Southwest Florida area.”
The Eagles open Atlantic Sun Conference play at UNF on January 3, in Jacksonville. The Eagles first home conference game, against in-state rival Stetson, has been included in the A-Sun’s television package with Comcast Sports Southeast. The A-Sun will be broken into two divisions, North and South. FGCU will be a member of the South along with Stetson, Jacksonville, UNF, Mercer and Kennesaw State. The Eagles will visit each member of the South Division and also hose each team. The North Division features two-time defending league champ Belmont along with ETSU, Lipscomb, Campbell, Gardner-Webb and fellow Division I newcomer USC Upstate. The Eagles visit Belmont, Campbell and Gardner-Webb and host Lipscomb, ETSU and USC Upstate.
The Eagles return four starters and eight letterwinners including seven seniors from last year’s 27-6 team. The Eagles first appearance on the hardwood this season will be October 12, for a Tip-Off Madness which will begin at 9:00 pm in Alico Arena.