FORT MYERS, Fla. – Head coach Karl Smesko has announced a portion of the 2011-12 non-conference schedule for the reigning A-Sun Regular Season Champion FGCU women’s basketball program. The Eagles are currently slated to play two non-conference games at home and six games on the road, which includes three contests at the Hawaii Tournament in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Green and Blue’s non-conference slate is not complete as Smesko said that the team is looking to add two or three additional non-conference contests.
The non-conference schedule features four meetings against BCS foes, including one from the BIG EAST, one from the Big Ten and two from the ACC.
“This is without question already the most competitive non-conference schedule that we have ever put together,” said Smesko. “Our non-conference games should prepare us well for the Atlantic Sun. We try to schedule nice trips and great game environments for our players. This year, we have trips to Hawaii and Seton Hall plus home games against Michigan State and Virginia Tech. These should be great experiences for our student-athletes.”
FGCU will open the program’s 10th season with a return trip to Seton Hall on Friday, Nov. 11. Led by second-year head coach Anne Donovan, the Pirates are coming off an 8-22 season, where they finished 1-15 in BIG EAST play. The Eagles defeated Seton Hall, 64-57, in the 2010-11 season opener for both squads on Nov. 12, 2010.
The Green and Blue then head across Alligator Alley to take on FIU on Nov. 14. The Panthers finished 16-16 (10-6 Sun Belt) last season and advanced to the semifinal round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
The Eagles land at Alico Arena for their home opener on Saturday, Nov. 19 when they host the Spartans of Michigan State. MSU, who finished last season 27-6 overall and 13-3 in Big Ten play, earned their first outright Big Ten Championship and qualified for the program’s 11th NCAA Tournament, losing to Wisconsin-Green Bay (65-56) in the second round. The Spartans, ranked No. 18 in the final 2010-11 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, defeated the Eagles in their first meeting in East Lansing, Mich. 94-71 on Dec. 13, 2009.
A road trip to Orlando on Saturday, Dec. 8 pits FGCU against UCF at UCF Arena. The Knights are coming off their most successful season as a member of Conference USA, as they finished 22-11 overall (12-4 C-USA). Under head coach Joi Williams, UCF won the Conference USA Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, earning a No. 13 seed and falling to No. 4 Ohio State 80-69 in the first round.
On Wednesday, Dec. 21, the Eagles will host Virginia Tech and newly-appointed head coach Dennis Wolff, who took over the reins of the program on March 22. The Hokies return eight players from their 2010-11 squad that finished 11-19 overall. FGCU won the only previous contest 73-65 last November in the Caribbean Challenge in Cancun, Mexico.
The Green and Blue wrap up the non-conference schedule with a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii to play a trio of contests in the Hawaii Tournament from Dec. 28-30. FGCU will face NC State, Alcorn State and Hawaii in the round-robin format.
The Wolfpack finished last season with a 14-17 overall record (4-10 ACC) and fell to Miami in the first round of the ACC Tournament. NC State returns 11 players, including four starters, from last year’s squad.
The Rainbow Wahine’s (11-19, 5-11 WAC) season came to a close with a 71-59 loss to New Mexico State in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, while the Lady Braves fell to No. 6 seed Grambling (72-63) in the first round of the 2011 Farmers Insurance SWAC Basketball Tournament to finished the 2010-11 campaign 12-14 overall (11-6 SWAC).
FGCU season tickets can be purchased in person at the Alico Arena ticket office or by phone at 239-590-7145. The FGCU ticket office is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
Off to a record for pre-season ticket sales, combined season tickets for both the men’s and women’s teams are also available again for a combined 50 percent discount. Season tickets for either the men’s and women’s program range from $84-$259. A combined season ticket (both teams) ranges from $126-$389.