Highlighted by games at ACC foes Clemson and Notre Dame to open the season, the Stetson men’s basketball team will begin the 2013-14 season on an eight-game road trip in the month of November.
“I think the advantage that we will have is that we’ll be road tested,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said of his early season schedule. “Our guys will understand how to go into a hostile environment, and the preparation that you need to be able to contend with those basketball teams, as well as the focus you need.”
After home exhibitions against Tampa on Oct. 26 and Palm Beach Atlantic on Nov. 4, the Hatters will open up their first season under Williams at Clemson on Nov. 8. On Nov. 10, Stetson will take on a Notre Dame squad that reached the Big East semifinal and the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
“We’re going to have to be clicking on all cylinders,” Williams said of the opening games. “But these are the types of games that help build character for your team. We will have to be very prepared offensively for whatever they bring defensively.”
The Hatters will then return to Florida, but stay on the road, challenging Florida A&M on Nov. 14. Last season Stetson won its matchup with the Rattlers by a score of 88-66. A trip down to Miami to take on Florida International on Nov. 18 will be followed by a game at USF on Nov. 22.
In its first year of conception, the Gulf Coast Showcase will host the Hatters for three games over three days from Nov. 25-27.
After Thanksgiving, Stetson will welcome Southern Conference Champion - and regular to the NCAA Tournament - Davidson to the Edmunds Center. The Wildcats will challenge the Hatters in their home opener on Saturday, Nov. 30.
“It’s big for us to have [Davidson] come play us at this point,” Williams said. “They’re a well-coached team, they proven that over the years. They understand what it takes to be a winner. That’s what we are striving to become.”
Home games against cross-county rival Bethune-Cookman (Dec. 3) and Florida Atlantic (Dec. 17) sandwich a road game just down the interstate at UCF. The Hatters will take on the Knights on Dec. 7 at 7:00 p.m.
“When you look at Clemson, Notre Dame, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, those are top quality teams, [so] I think we will understand pretty clearly what we need to work on and what we need to get more efficient at. We are making sure that everything evolves towards our [Atlantic Sun] Conference play. It’s a good non-conference schedule. It’s a tough non-conference schedule.”
The Hatters will open Atlantic Sun Conference play with the straight games at the Edmunds Center, as Lipscomb (Dec. 30), Northern Kentucky (Jan. 1), and defending A-Sun Champion and NCAA Sweet 16 team from a year ago Florida Gulf Coast (Jan. 5) challenge Stetson early in conference action.
Stetson will then compete in five of its next seven contests on the road, playing at Jacksonville (Jan. 9), North Florida (Jan. 11), Kennesaw State (Jan. 23), Mercer (Jan. 25) and FGCU (Jan. 31), while hosting ETSU (Jan. 16) and USC Upstate (Jan. 18).
Return trips from North Florida (Feb. 6) and Jacksonville (Feb. 8) precede a Stetson road trip to USC Upstate (Feb. 13) and ETSU (Feb. 15). The final two home games of the regular season will welcome Kennesaw State (Feb. 21) and Mercer (Feb. 23) to the Edmunds Center.
Stetson will conclude the regular season on the road, traveling to Northern Kentucky on Feb. 27, and ending the campaign at Lipscomb on Mar. 1.
“It’s going to take a while to adapt to my coaching philosophy, my coaching staff’s philosophy. This is a very competitive conference. When you look at the teams that are coming back, and all of the veteran leadership that they have, it’s going to be challenging.”
The top eight teams in the league, per usual, will qualify for the A-Sun Tournament. However, this year, the format has changed. Each round of the championship – Quarterfinals (Mar. 4), Semifinals (Mar. 6), Finals (Mar. 9) – will be held at the higher seed’s home arena.