Two-time defending Big South Conference champion, UNC Asheville will open their home schedule for the 2012-13 season against mountain rival Western Carolina University on Friday, Nov. 9 at Kimmel Arena.
Coach Eddie Biedenbach, speaking Tuesday night at a Coaches Caravan event in South Asheville said the Bulldogs will be playing some tough opponents this season as usual. Games at North Carolina State, a pre-season favorite in the ACC, a return game at Northeastern (the Dogs played them two seasons ago in the ESPN BracketBusters event), at St. John’s (NY), at Ohio State and at Charlotte will get the Bulldogs ready for conference play.
They also will be playing in the prestigious Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament in San Juan from Nov. 15-18.
The Bulldogs will be joined by “Sweet 16” participant N.C. State, Akron, Massachusetts, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Providence and Tennessee.
This marks the second straight season Asheville has been invited to play in an early season tournament. Last year, the Bulldogs participated in the Battle “4” Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
“One of the benefits of going to the NCAA Tournament the past two years is you raise your team’s profile and get invited to tournaments like last year in the Bahamas and this season in Puerto Rico,” stated Biedenbach. “We’re excited to be invited to this tournament. It should be a great experience for our guys.
“However, this is a really tough field,” he added. “There are a lot of good basketball teams in this tournament. We’re going to be tested early in the season with any of the opponents we’ll face in Puerto Rico.”
Biedenbach is really excited about the upcoming season in spite of the fact that he loses six seniors, including backcourt standouts Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm. “Right now, as I see it, Trent Meyers and Keith Hornsby will be our starting guards, with Corey Littlejohn backing up Trent at the point guard spot. They are every bit as talented and more athletic than Matt and J.P., and have the capability of being great players for us. However, playing D-I basketball, like they did last year, and starting for a D-I team…well, things kind of speed up and Trent and Keith are not quite there yet. But they will be!”
Biedenbach, who will be starting his 17th season as Asheville’s head coach said the Bulldogs will have a “talented and exciting team and I hope to get them to play together and to be there in the end. That’s what we are shooting for…to get back to the NCAA Tournament again this year,” Biedenbach stated.
As of this meeting, the probable starters are seniors Jaron Lane (last season’s sixth man) and Jeremy Atkinson (a returning starter) up front, with 6’10” center D.J. Cunningham (medical redshirt in 2011-12, but a starter the previous season), Meyer and Hornsby. The Bulldogs recruited five incoming freshman to the squad, and they certainly will be getting looked at early in the season.
In other news, the Big South – Southern Conference Challenge will be happening again…but just for the women. Director of Athletics Janet Cone stated the men have a lot of scheduling obstacles to overcome to make this happen, but they are trying hard to get it done for the 2013-14 season.
A spirited crowd enjoyed the event, which is one of several planned over the next few weeks.