UNCW Press Release
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – An inaugural matchup with national power Georgetown and a return to Louisville’s Billy Minardi Classic just before the Christmas break highlight UNCW’s 2015-16 men’s basketball non-conference schedule.
The Seahawks will face the Hoyas on Saturday, Dec. 12, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., in one of 11 non-conference games for Head Coach Kevin Keatts in his second season with the program. The non-conference slate features five home games, four road tilts and two neutral dates.
Overall, UNCW will play 29 games, including 14 home contests, 13 road dates and two neutral site contests. UNCW’s Colonial Athletic Association slate was released earlier in the week and features an 18-game docket for the defending regular season champions.
“When we started putting the schedule together, we wanted to try to make sure our home and neutral site games were greater than our away games,” said Keatts, the 2015 CAA Coach-of-the-Year. “I’m very pleased that we were able to do that. The teams on our non-conference schedule will help us prepare for our challenging CAA schedule.
“I’m excited about it. I wanted to have five home games because our fans deserve to see us play at home. We led the CAA in attendance and I wanted for our fans and students to see us play early in the year. When you have great fan support and the following that we do, it’s important for us to have early home games.”
Georgetown is one of eight teams that advanced to post-season play in 2014-15. The Hoyas and CAA champion Northeastern reached the NCAA Tournament, William & Mary competed in the NIT, Radford and the CAA’s Hofstra made the College Basketball Invitational. Eastern Kentucky, and Western Michigan and James Madison each participated in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
“Georgetown will be a great game for us,” said Keatts. “We will have the opportunity to play in the Verizon Center and the BB&T Classic. It will be a great challenge for our team. Georgetown will give us a chance to play against a top-10 team and, more importantly, play against a style that we’ll see from a couple teams in the CAA.”
“I’m also excited about going back to Louisville for the Billy Minardi Classic, which means so much to Coach (Rick) Pitino. It will be great to play against a good friend of mine, Kareem Richardson, who coaches at UMKC and was also a coach on the national championship team.”
Following an exhibition game against Barton on Sunday, Nov. 8, UNCW kicks off its season officially on Friday, Nov. 13, when the Seahawks face NAIA member Milligan. The Seahawks then play Ohio Valley Conference member Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 16) and Mid-American Conference stalwart Western Michigan (Nov. 21) to wrap up three straight home games to open the campaign.
The Seahawks then kick off a stretch of six away games in seven outings with a Nov. 28 tip-off at East Tennessee State before capping the rugged streak by playing Utah Valley and UMKC in Louisville’s Billy Minardi Classic on Dec. 22-23 at the sparkling KFC Yum! Center.
Georgetown, Utah Valley, Missouri Kansas City and Milligan represent new opponents on the docket. The schedule also features schools from 10 different conferences during the course of the season.
The CAA Tournament returns to Baltimore, Md., for the third straight year when the 10-team affair runs March 4-7, 2016, at Royal Farms Arena near the Inner Harbor.
2015-16 Non-Conference Opponent Capsules
Campbell “Camels” (10-22, 4-14 in Big South)
In the longest series on record for the Seahawks, UNCW entertains longtime rival Campbell in a late December matchup at Trask Coliseum. Big South All-Rookie pick Curtis Phillips had 20 points and six rebounds in CU’s 72-64 loss to Gardner-Webb in the first round of the BSC Tournament.
Coker “Cobras” (12-15, 11-11 in SAC)
The NCAA Division II Cobras lost to host Carson-Newman in the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference, 69-63, in Jefferson City, Tenn. Coker lost three of its top four scorers, but returns junior Donte Samuels, a 6-5, 205-pound forward, who averaged 13.8 points per game. UNCW topped Coker, 62-47, in the only other time the two teams have played on Dec. 5, 2012, at Trask Coliseum.
East Carolina “Pirates” (14-19, 6-12 in AAC)
The bitter rivalry continues as the Seahawks take on the Pirates in Greenville. Coach Jeff Lebo returns four of his top five scorers and his top five rebounders, including leading scorer B.J. Tyson (12.5 ppg), a unanimous American Athletic Conference All-Rookie selection. ECU also returns a trio of junior starters: Caleb White (12.2 ppg), Michel Nzege (4.7 rpg) and Marshall Guilmette (10.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg).
East Tennessee State “Buccaneers” (16-14, 8-10 in SoCon)
Steve Forbes – not the Steve Forbes of financial fame – takes over the helm of the ETSU program in 2015-16. Forbes is the 16th head coach in ETSU’s 95-year history and arrives in Johnson City following two seasons as an assistant coach at Wichita State where he helped take the Shockers to the Sweet 16 this past season.
Eastern Kentucky “Colonels” (21-12, 11-6 in OVC)
A pair of former Louisville aides meet when UNCW’s Kevin Keatts takes on first-year EKU coach Dan McHale in the first game of a four-game series. Eastern Kentucky went 21-12 this past season and made its third straight appearance in a national postseason tournament. Eastern finished first in the OVC East Division with an 11-5 mark. The Colonels have finished in the top-three in the conference each of the last three seasons.
Georgetown “Hoyas” (22-11, 12-6 in Big East)
The Seahawks battle in the Hoyas for the first time in this early December clash at the MCI Center in Washington. Georgetown advanced to the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament before falling to Utah in Portland, Ore. Georgetown closed out the 2014-15 season with a 22-11 overall record and finished in second place in the BIG EAST Conference. Rising senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a First-Team All-Big East choice, led Georgetown with 16.3 ppg and is ranked 18th all-time at Georgetown with 1,386 points.
Milligan “Buffaloes” (20-11, 12-6 in AAC)
Coach Bill Robinson’s Buffaloes, an NAIA member from the Appalachian Athletic Conference, went 7-6 in road games last season to earn their first trip to the national tournament since 2001. Milligan’s storybook season came to a close on March 12 with a loss to No. 5 Dakota Wesleyan in the opening round of the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship at Point Lookout, Mo.
Missouri-Kansas City “Kangaroos” (14-19, 8-6 in WAC)
The Kangaroos enjoyed a banner year last season, finishing second in the WAC and earning the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, matching the highest ever at UMKC, and best since 2004-05. Martez Harrison was named Honorable Mention AP All-American, the first ever in program history, as well as the WAC Player-of-the-Year. UMKC, coached by second-year skipper Kareem Richardson, embarked on a summer tour to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Radford “Highlanders” (22-12, 12-6 in Big South)
Fifth-year head coach Mike Jones has fashioned back-to-back 22-win seasons with the Highlanders. Radford wound up 22-12 one year ago following a 78-71 loss at Vermont in the CBI quarterfinals. The Highlanders have seven seniors and five freshmen on their roster for 2015-16.
Utah Valley “Wolverines” (11-19, 5-9 in WAC)
The Seahawks and Wolverines collide for the first time in Louisville’s Billy Minardi Classic at the KFC Yum! Center. NBA veteran and former NCAA national champion Mark Pope takes over the helm of the WAC program after serving as an assist at BYU the last four seasons.
Western Michigan “Broncos” (20-14, 10-8 in MAC)
The Seahawks and Broncos tangle for the first time since 1999 when the teams met at Trask Coliseum on Nov. 21. WMU returns a senior-laden team led by veteran guards Connar Tava (12.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Jared Klein (75 career games/8 starts).