Trips to Ohio State, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia highlight slate for Lady Bucs
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 24, 2010) - Coming off its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, head ETSU women's basketball coach Karen Kemp once again has the Blue & Gold in for another difficult journey as the Lady Bucs released their 2010-11 schedule Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Bucs, who are coming off a program-best 23 win-campaign a year ago, will once again have to prepare for another run at the nations elite in non-conference action; while 20 Atlantic Sun Conference games are in store for the three-time defending tournament champions in 2010-11.
"I know we lost a lot of firepower with Siarre Evans and TaRonda Wiles graduating, but we return key players from last season - and instead of rebuilding - I thought my staff did a tremendous job reloading this team for another run at a conference championship," said Kemp, who returns for her 17th season at the helm. "Each year it seems I always get a lot of questions regarding the strength of our schedule, but I believe we have to play the best teams in order to make us stronger and prepare us for a difficult conference season."
Preparing the Lady Bucs for another conference run is exactly what Kemp did, as the Lady Bucs face eight potential opponents from postseason play in 2009-10 - including trips to Ohio State, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and Chattanooga.
Before taking on the BCS schools early on in the year, ETSU opens up its slate at home with games against Richmond and Appalachian State - marking the first time the Lady Bucs begin the season with back-to-back home games in Johnson City since hosting Radford and Coastal Carolina to start the 1999-00 campaign. ETSU and Richmond open up the season with a tip on Nov. 14, while the Lady Bucs face former SoCon rival Appalachian State for Homecoming on Friday, Nov. 19.
Following their brief two-game homestand, the Lady Bucs play eight of their next nine games on the road, beginning with Ohio State on Nov. 22. After taking on the six-time defending Big Ten Tournament champions, ETSU returns to the Volunteer state for a showdown with Sun Belt power MTSU on Nov. 26. Following the contest with the two-time reigning Sun Belt regular season and tournament champion Blue Raiders, ETSU opens up conference play with a game at USC Upstate on Dec. 4. The Lady Bucs finally conclude their five-game road swing with non-conference contests at North Carolina (12/8) and Chattanooga (12/11).
ETSU's trip back to Johnson City remains a brief one after facing a rigorous road stretch when the Lady Bucs bring Campbell into the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center on Dec. 20.
Once again the Lady Bucs hit the road to ring out 2010 and ring in 2011, beginning with a short trip down I-40 with a Dec. 22 tip-off against in-state rival Tennessee. ETSU will be searching for its second-ever win over the Lady Vols, and it marks the first time the two teams have met since the 1986 season. From there the Lady Bucs will take a brief Christmas break before heading to Charlottesville, Va. for a Christmas Tournament at the University of Virginia. The tournament field includes the host Cavaliers, North Carolina A&T, and Holy Cross (first round opponents still TBD).
After closing out non-conference play in Charlottesville, the Lady Bucs open the 2011 portion of their season with A-Sun play on the mind - beginning at Mercer on Jan. 3. The five-game road trip comes to an end Wednesday, Jan. 5 when ETSU visits Kennesaw State.
Finally, the Lady Bucs return home for the first time in 2011 to take on conference rival Florida Gulf Coast (Jan. 8) and Stetson (Jan. 10). Ironically, after taking on a pair of Florida schools, ETSU takes its first of two trips to the Sunshine state to face Jacksonville (Jan. 15); while a rematch of the 2010 A-Sun Championship game is set two days later at North Florida (Jan. 17).
Then, after playing 12 of its first 17 games on the road, ETSU comes home to enjoy a season-long five-game homestand - beginning Saturday, Jan. 22 against Lipscomb and ending Monday, Jan. 31 vs. Mercer. Sandwiched in between those two games are contests against Belmont (Jan. 24), USC Upstate (Jan. 26) and Kennesaw State (Jan. 29).
The Lady Bucs wrap up the final month of the season with five of their last seven games being on the road. ETSU begins February with its second trip to Florida to tangle with Stetson (Feb. 5) and FGCU (Feb. 7). The lone two home games feature the Blue and Gold playing North Florida on Feb. 12 and Jacksonville on Monday, Feb. 14. ETSU concludes the season with a trip to the Music City for games at Lipscomb (Feb. 19) and at Belmont (Feb. 21); while the season finale will pin the Lady Bucs against Campbell for the final conference meeting between the two schools on Feb. 24.
The single-elimination A-Sun Tournament is scheduled for March 2-5 at Mercer's University Center. ETSU will be gunning for its fourth straight tournament title as the championship team receives the leagues automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"The conference season will be another difficult test after playing a strong non-conference schedule," added Kemp. "Having three 20-plus win teams a year ago is a testament to how the league is getting stronger and I have to preach to the players that every night each team will be gunning for us."