UNCW Press Release
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – With the non-conference schedule complete, the UNCW men's basketball team turns its attention to their 2012-13 Colonial Athletic Association debut Wednesday when resurgent Towson visits Trask Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
The Seahawks, 5-7, are attempting to bounce back following a 72-60 setback last Sunday at longtime rival Campbell. The loss denied the Seahawks from reaching .500 before the rugged 18-game CAA ringer "We were obviously disappointed with the result of the Campbell game," third-year UNCW skipper Buzz Peterson said. "We've got to put that behind us and focus on the conference schedule. We're approaching this as the beginning of our quest for the regular season championship."
UNCW is opening its CAA schedule at home for the first time in three years. The Seahawks stand 12-16 in conference openers since becoming a charter member of the league in 1984-85.
The Seahawks have dropped four consecutive CAA debuts after losses in 2009 (Georgia State), 2010 (George Mason), 2011 (George Mason) and 2012 (VCU). UNCW's last conference-opening win came on Dec. 1, 2007, when the Seahawks edged Hofstra, 87-83, in overtime.
"Every conference game is important, but the home games are especially critical," said Peterson. "It's so tough to win on the road, so we have to defend our home court and hope to win a few on the road. We're looking forward to the challenge ahead of us."
As the Seahawks jump into the conference race, Peterson's club is still searching for some scoring punch to complement the consistent play of senior forward Keith Rendleman. The 6-8, 220-pound Rendleman, a First-Team All-CAA pick one year ago, has been as advertised, averaging nearly a double-double at 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. The next highest point producer is redshirt freshman Craig Ponder with 8.3 ppg.
"If we're going to compete for the regular season title, we've got to get Keith some help," said Peterson. "Some of the other guys have shown glimpses at times, but not on a game-by-game basis."
Wednesday is the 27th meeting between the two programs and the Seahawks own a 16-10 edge in the series that began in January of 1979. The Tigers joined the CAA during the 2001-02 season and UNCW holds a 13-6 advantage in that span.
Towson went 1-31 last season and the only win was a 66-61 verdict over UNCW on Jan. 28, 2012, that snapped a 41-game losing streak for the Tigers. Pat Skerry's team is much improved this time around, however, and moved to 5-8 with an impressive comeback last Saturday at Oregon State.
The Tigers trailed the Beavers, 44-25, with 16:08 left to play, but stormed back behind junior transfer Jerrelle Benimon and junior forward Marcus Dumas to stun OSU at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. Benimon, who joined the Tigers from Georgetown, scored 20 points and pulled down 21 rebounds to earn CAA Player-of-the-Week honors. Dumas hit the game-winner with 0.8 seconds on the clock to make the 3,000-mile cross-country trek more palatable.
"They are a much improved team," Peterson added. "They are one of the better rebounding teams in the country, play very good defense, and come into this game with a lot of confidence."
Towson owns a +6.2 rebounding margin – good enough for 52nd among the nation's 345 NCAA Division I schools – and holds opponents to 38.4 percent shooting for 41st in the NCAA ranks. Benimon's presence inside gives the Tigers one of the CAA's top big men.
The Seahawks are seeking to remain perfect at home. UNCW is 5-0 at Trask Coliseum, with wins over UNC Asheville, Wofford, Hampton, Coker and UNCG by an average of 10.0 ppg. Peterson's troops hammered visiting UNCG, 87-73, in their last home appearance on Dec. 19 in their most complete offensive performance of the campaign.
The Seahawks stand 7-7 at home and 5-9 on the road in CAA openers. Wednesday is the latest conference opener for the Seahawks in 10 years, dating back to a matchup against Hofstra on Jan. 4, 2003.
Following Wednesday's clash with the Tigers, the Seahawks embark on a two-game road swing to Northeastern and James Madison, playing the Huskies on Saturday (Jan. 5) in Boston and traveling to Harrisonburg, Va., on Wednesday (Jan. 9).
UNCW's next home game is Saturday, Jan. 12, when George Mason visits Trask Coliseum for the only regular season pairing between the two CAA rivals.
322 Shipyard Boulevard