NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With games in Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colorado, and Princeton, New Jersey among others, the Lipscomb men’s basketball team is set to rack up some frequent flyer miles during a challenging 2014-15 campaign.
“When looking at the overall schedule, you’re not going to find a coach anywhere that doesn’t say that it’s a difficult one, but I’m not going to say that,” said Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander. “I’m going to say that we have a lot of balance. It’s a schedule that catches the eye of anybody who looks at it closely. We’ve got some high profile names on there. We’ve got a lot of local teams that have had significant success and the Atlantic Sun schedule is the one that we’re most concerned about.”
Returning four of the five starters from last season’s squad, the Bisons open play in November with the first five games in the Music City. The season kicks off on Nov. 14 as NCAA Division III foe Berry comes to Allen Arena. Lipscomb then hosts Belmont in the annual renewal of the “Battle of the Boulevard” on Nov. 17 ahead of the short trip to take on Vanderbilt on Nov. 20.
“It’s a great opportunity for Bison fans to see our team early and get a good glimpse of who we are and what our season is going to look like,” said Alexander. “It’s exciting for us but there are some tough games in that stretch. It will be important for us to hold our own to get the season started.”
The home slate resumes on Nov. 22 as the Bisons take on Transylvania before making the return trek to battle Belmont on Nov. 24 at the Curb Event Center.
“Having four additional nonconference games to fill is a challenge,” said Alexander. “Really you can always look and see who you want to play but having that team having a desire to play you and then fitting that puzzle together to play is difficult. We take four games that were typically in January or February and we now have got to find nonconference opponents. That’s a pretty difficult challenge.
“We feel good about where we finished. We ended up playing a non-Division I game that we didn’t anticipate playing to make it work but overall we are really pleased with the layout of our schedule”.
Following the battle with the Bruins, the Purple and Gold head west to the Rocky Mountains to take on Colorado in the first-ever meeting between the two schools that share similar horned mascots.
“When you are putting together a nonconference schedule you want to find games that are attractive to not only fans, but also give your players an opportunity to maybe see part of the country that they haven’t seen before or play in places that they haven’t played before,” noted Alexander.
Lipscomb continues nonconference action in December hosting Tennessee State on Dec. 6 in between road contests at Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay in the first half of the month.
With exams finished, Alexander’s squad will head to the Lonestar State to face Big XII power Texas in Austin on Dec. 16 before heading back across the country to play Princeton on Dec. 19 marking the first Ivy League opponent in school history for the Bisons.
“The trip to Princeton is going to be an exciting one for our team,” said Alexander. “The trip alone will be a great experience. We are going to have a chance to spend a whole day in New York City and for several of our players that will be a first. But we’re going up there to play a game against a team that has had a lot of NCAA tournament success. Just their style alone makes them really difficult to play.
“The Princeton offense as it’s called and rightfully so, is unique and a challenge but it’s one that’s fun to prepare for. They will be a team that’s fun to play against and one that will make our team better win or lose.”
Lipscomb then returns home to the Volunteer State to host Ohio Valley Conference foe Austin Peay on Dec. 21 before renewing an in-state rivalry with Chattanooga with the first meeting of the two schools since 2002 on Dec. 29.
“The trip to Chattanooga after Christmas will be a great test for us,” said Alexander. “It’s a game like a lot of our games, that our fans we be able to get to and have some natural rivalry to it because of the proximity. Chattanooga is a team that historically has had a lot of success and with Will Wade there they had a season very similar to ours last year.
“We’re excited about going down there and playing that game. It’s always important to us if we can to play local games and as many local teams as we can. It just makes sense when you’re putting a schedule together because people in our area that pull for us know those names and know those teams.”
A trip to Southeastern Conference foe Missouri kicks off the 2015 portion of the slate on Jan. 3 before the Bisons wrap up non-league action hosting NCAA Division III foe Rhodes on Jan. 5
Now featuring eight teams with the departure of East Tennessee State and Mercer, the shortened Atlantic Sun Conference schedule kicks off on Jan. 10 as Lipscomb hosts Northern Kentucky.
“The Atlantic Sun is where we are ultimately going to be measured,” said Alexander. “Our philosophy is that it’s the only place where everybody is playing the exact same schedule home and away. It’s going to determine whether we think about whether this was a successful season or not.”
“I think as we reflect on last year, that’s the reason we look back and say we felt like we accomplished a few things on the front end that people didn’t expect us to. So now what we have to do is take that strong finish and take that to the next level. The Atlantic Sun is going to be as competitive as it has been. Anybody who wins this league is going to be a formidable opponent in the NCAA tournament. So what we need to make happen is make sure that’s Lipscomb this year.”
The 14-game conference campaign and 2014-15 regular season is set to wrap up on Feb. 28 as Lipscomb hosts Kennesaw State in Nashville.
The top four teams in the conference will again host the first round of the A-Sun Championships on Mar. 3 with the highest remaining seeds hosting the semifinals and finals on campus as well on March 5 and 8, respectively.
Season tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling 615-966-HERD (4373) or by visiting http://www.LipscombTickets.com