FORT MYERS, Fla., - Florida Gulf Coast University Men’s Head Basketball Coach Dave Balza has announced the 2008-09 schedule. The schedule features 18 home games this season including three in the O’Reilly Auto Parts College Basketball Experience Classic.
“Just as was the case last year, we want to challenge ourselves with a tough schedule. We think that our community and our students will enjoy the level of competition,” said Balza. “Most importantly, we feel that by playing a tough non-conference schedule, we will get out young team ready for the rigors of Atlantic Sun Conference play.”
One of the highlights of the schedule will be a December 10 trip to Gainesville to face Florida. The Gators are one of the premier programs in college basketball after becoming the first team in 15 years to repeat as national champions. Florida won 24 games last season and returns four starters while bring in one of the top ranked recruiting classes in the country.
The Eagles open the season at the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE on November 16 and will host three games in the tournament November 24-26. The rest of the field, including FGCU’s opponent for the season opener will be announced at a later date.
Following the season opener at the CBE, FGCU returns home to face North Carolina Central for the first of five straight at Alico Arena. The Eagles play 17 regular season home games. FGCU will also host the three games of the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE as well as Florida Atlantic during the homestand. FGCU also hosts Ave Maria in an exhibition on November 5. FGCU will also host Johnson & Wales (December 14) and Army (December 30) at Alico Arena.
FGCU also will make a road trip to Butler and Michigan on December 20th and 22nd. This will be the third consecutive meeting between the Bulldogs and the Eagles. Butler has been nationally ranked in each of the previous meetings and went on to the NCAA tournament. The Michigan contest will mark the first meeting between FGCU and the Alma Mater of Head Coach Dave Balza. It will also be a homecoming of sorts for FGCU sophomore guard Reed Baker, a Naples, Fla., native who transferred to FGCU following his freshman season at Michigan.
The Eagles open up conference play at Stetson on December 4 and host Campbell on December 13. This season the Atlantic Sun Conference will go to a 20-game conference schedule. FGCU will face the other 10 members once at home and once on the road. The Eagles host three-time defending A-Sun champion Belmont on January 31. Last season Belmont lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament on a last second shot.
The Eagles bring in one of the top recruiting classes in school history to replace four starters from a year ago. The class has been ranked as the second best class in the conference by Hoop Scoop. FGCU completed its first season in Division I as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference last year.
The FGCU booster club will be hosting a “Sneak Peak/Pick-a-Seat Party” on October 23 where fans can get a first look at the men’s and women’s basketball team. Admission to the event is free. FGCU still has season ticket packages remaining, starting at $80. For more season ticket information, please call (239) 590-7145 or visit www.fgcuathletics.com/tickets.