FGCU unveils five games, including three at Alico Arena
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU men’s basketball team unveiled five games off its 2010-11 non-conference schedule on Friday, including a showdown against ACC member Miami at Alico Arena, and road trips to Big Ten opponents Indiana and Ohio State.
Home dates against N.C. Central on Dec. 21 and IUPUI on Dec. 27 round out the five games that were released. The remainder of the men’s basketball schedule is expected to be released by September 1. The three BCS opponents in one season are the most since FGCU took on four in 2007-08 (Iowa, Arizona State, DePaul and Marquette).
The Eagles will get another chance at defeating a BCS Conference opponent at home when they square-off against the Hurricane for the second straight season on Saturday, November 27 at 7:05 p.m. FCGU defeated BIG EAST foe DePaul, 64-61, last season at Alico Arena in front of a crowd of 3,125 fans to cap a season-long four-game win streak in December. The Blue Devils were the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) school to face off against FGCU at Alico Arena.
Miami returns nine players from last year’s club that won 20 games for the second time in three years under head coach Frank Haith. The Hurricane began the year with a 15-1 record and advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament for the first time in program history, defeating Wake Forest and Virginia Tech before falling to eventual ACC Tournament and NCAA champion Duke. Highlighting the group of returners is the backcourt duo of junior Malcolm Grant and sophomore Durand Scott, who became the first set of Miami players since 1992-93 to pass out 100 assists in the same season. Scott also became the first player in program history to be named to the ACC All-Rookie team.
“We’re excited to have Miami coming into Alico Arena this year,” said head coach Dave Balza. “We have always tried to play high profile teams that our fans will enjoy seeing. The ACC is one of the best, if not the best, conferences in the country. We look forward to a great event over Thanksgiving weekend.”
FGCU will begin by the season by heading to Bloomington, Ind. to take on the Hoosiers in the opener for both clubs on Friday, Nov. 12. Led by third year head coach Tom Crean, the youthful Indiana lineup includes just one senior, but returns all three of its top returning scorers. Sophomores Maurice Creek (16.4 ppg) and Christian Wotford (12.0 ppg), and junior Verdel Jones III (14.9 ppg) all averaged double figure points in 2009-10. The Eagles will play in front of a boisterous crowd at Assembly Hall. The five-time national champs ranked 11th in attendance last season, averaging 15,617 fans per contest.
“Other than opening the season at home in Alico Arena, there are few better places to open the season than Assembly Hall,” Balza said. “It’s a place that’s rich with tradition and has a tremendous fan base. It will be a great challenge for our team to play an opponent that’s well coached and on the rise.”
The Nov. 12th date against the Hoosiers will mark the second straight year the Eagles have opened against a Big Ten team. FGCU began the 2009-10 campaign on the road at No. 2 Michigan State.
FGCU will trade the Florida heat for the coldness of Ohio on Dec. 15 when they enter Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio to take on the Buckeyes. Led by All-American and NBA Lottery pick Evan Turner, Ohio State produced a 29-8 record in 2009-10, winning the Big Ten regular season and tournament title, and advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16. OSU finished the year No. 11 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll. The Buckeyes return seven players, including four that started more than 34 games from last year’s club that produced the second-most wins in school history. Led by head coach Thad Matta, who enters his seventh season at OSU, the Buckeyes will also usher in freshman forward Jared Sullinger, the nation’s top recruit according to several scouting services.
The Eagles will take on N.C. Central before the holiday break on Tuesday, Dec. 21, as the front end of a doubleheader with the women’s basketball team. The game is slated to begin at 5:15 p.m. before the women take on Indiana.
FGCU will return from the holiday break by taking on an IUPUI club that finished 2009-10 with a 25-11 record on Monday, Dec. 27. Led by head coach Ron Hunter, the Jags finished second in the Summit League after producing the second-most wins in program history. IUPUI earned a berth into the College Basketball Insider (CBI) Tournament and won at Hofstra in the opening round. Hunter made national headlines beginning in January of 2008 when he went barefoot during IUPUI’s game against Oakland in support of Samaritan’s Feet in an effort to raise 10 million pairs of shoes to put on children’s feet all over the world in a 10-year span. Hunter then went shoeless for one game in January of 2009 and all 36 of IUPUI’s games in 2009-10. The men’s basketball program received more national attention this summer as San Antonio Spurs guard and former IUPUI star George Hill had a breakout sophomore NBA campaign in which he averaged 12.4 points per game.
The 2010-11 version of the Eagles welcome back nine players, including their top two leading scorers from last season in redshirt sophomore Anthony Banks (12.9 ppg) and senior Reed Baker (11.4 ppg). Banks led the team in scoring and rebounding (6.6) in 2009-10 en route to being named to the Atlantic Sun All-Freshmen team. Just the fourth player to ever lead the A-Sun in free throw percentage in back-to-back seasons, Baker reached double figures 17 times in 2009-10.
Single-game and season tickets are now on sale and can be purchased through the FGCU Ticket Office in Alico Arena either in person or by phone at (239) 590-7145. Tickets are also available on www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets.