Wednesday, August 12, 2009
An ACC Perennial Power, Three SEC Contenders, and Trip to Hawaii on Deck for ETSU
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 12, 2009) - After what was considered its toughest schedule in program history in 2008-09, the ETSU women's basketball team is in for another run at the gauntlet this upcoming season, as head coach Karen Kemp released the Lady Bucs' 2009-10 schedule on Wednesday.
The Lady Bucs, who are coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament trips, face seven teams (4 NCAAs/3 WNIT) from postseason play a year ago, as well as ETSU taking its first-ever visit to Hawaii during the Thanksgiving holiday. In total, six of the eight Lady Buccaneer non-conference opponents made trips to the postseason - including one to the Elite Eight and another to the Sweet 16.
"I'm very excited for the upcoming season and am ready to prepare my team for this difficult journey," said Kemp, who is looking to guide her Lady Bucs to a fourth straight 20-win season. "My motto has always been 'In order to be the best you have to play the best,' and I feel this schedule will prepare us for any obstacle that is thrown at us."
For the first time since the start of the 1999-2000 season ETSU opens up at home, as the Lady Bucs take on former SoCon rival Chattanooga on Friday, Nov. 13. The Lady Bucs look to avenge a two-game losing streak to the Lady Mocs with ETSU kicking off its "Homecoming" weekend with the 7 p.m. tip inside Memorial Center.
Following its season-opener ETSU hits the road for a four-game stretch where coach Kemp and the Lady Bucs cover approximately 11,660 miles along the way, beginning with a visit to Kemp's old stopping ground at Mississippi State on Sunday, Nov. 15. Kemp, an assistant with the Lady Bulldogs from 1985-87, has guided her Lady Bucs' squad to a win over a SEC foe in three of the last four seasons. Ironically, ETSU's streak began with a 78-53 victory over Mississippi State back on Nov. 20, 2005. From there the Lady Bucs take the week off before heading to Fayetteville, Ark. for a meeting with the Razorbacks on Sunday, Nov. 22.
Then, ETSU will board the plane for its longest trip in program history, when the Lady Bucs embark on their cross country flight over the Pacific to Hawaii for the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Classic, hosted by the University of Hawaii. After having time to enjoy some sightseeing and celebrate Thanksgiving, the Lady Bucs hit the hardwood for a showdown with Arizona State and the host Rainbow Wahine. The two-day round-robin tournament takes place Nov. 28-29. The Sun Devils are coming off their second Elite Eight appearance in the last three years, while posting their second highest ranking (12th) and win total (26) in 2008-09.
"This senior class of Latisha (Belcher), Siarre (Evans), and TaRonda (Wiles) have meant so much to our program since arriving at ETSU, so I wanted to reward them and our Lady Buc team for their hard work with this special trip," said Kemp, whose Lady Bucs will be making their first-ever visit to Hawaii in November. "I want the girls to enjoy the trip, but they also know it'll be all business when we take the court."
Before having a 12-day break for final exams, the reigning A-Sun Tournament champions finally return home to kick off conference play with UNF on Dec. 5.
The Lady Bucs again step out of conference action before hosting Jacksonville in a repeat of the 2008 and 2009 A-Sun Championship on Dec. 21, when ETSU takes the short bus ride over the mountain to face Appalachian State on Dec. 17.
After having a few days off to celebrate Christmas, ETSU hopes to crash Vanderbilt's post-holiday party in Nashville on Dec. 28. The Lady Bucs threw everything they had at the 2009 SEC Tournament champs and Sweet 16 qualifier before falling to the Commodores, 66-55, in ETSU's home-opener a year ago. Things don't get much easier for the Lady Bucs as they travel to "ACC Country," and face 2009 NCAA participant North Carolina for the second time in the last four seasons. The Lady Bucs and Tar Heels close out the 2009 portion of the schedule with a tip inside the historic Smith Center on New Year's Eve.
Following a grueling non-conference slate the Lady Bucs focus their attention to A-Sun competition beginning in 2010 with a three-game road swing - starting at USC Upstate on Jan. 4. Then, ETSU takes its first trip to Georgia the next weekend to face Mercer (Jan. 9) and Kennesaw State (Jan. 11).
Finally, after hitting the road for five straight games, the Lady Bucs return to Memorial Center for the first time in 2010 with an ultimate showdown against the reigning regular season champions, Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday, Jan. 16. ETSU takes on Stetson the following Monday (Jan. 18) before heading to the Music City for games at Lipscomb (Jan. 21) and Belmont (Jan. 23).
ETSU enjoys its longest homestand of the season from Jan. 27 through Feb. 1 when Campbell, Lipscomb (Jan. 30) and Belmont all come to Johnson City for conference battles.
From there the Lady Bucs begin the stretch run with five of their last eight contests on the road. ETSU travels to Stetson (Feb. 6), FGCU (Feb. 8), Campbell (Feb. 18), UNF (Feb. 25) and Jacksonville (Feb. 27). Three home games with Mercer (Feb. 11), Kennesaw State (Feb. 13), and USC Upstate (Feb. 22) are sandwiched in between.
"The A-Sun has continued to become stronger each any every year since we arrived in the league," said Kemp. "Teams will be gunning for us again, so we need to come ready to play every night or we will be in for a rude awakening. Things also get tougher as Kennesaw State and UNF now are eligible for postseason play."
The 2010 Atlantic Sun Tournament moves locations this upcoming season, as the automatic bid to the NCAAs will be contested in Macon, Ga. at Mercer University. ETSU looks to become the first team to win three straight tournament titles since Georgia State accomplished the feat from 2001-03.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.