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Trips to Missouri, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Alabama highlight 2006-2007 basketball schedule

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006

The 2006-2007 Lipscomb University men's basketball schedule opens with a four-game dress rehearsal in Canada and includes stops at two Souttheastern Conference schools, one Atlantic Coast Conference match, two games against the same team from the Missouri Valley Conference and one Big 12 opponent.

The Bisons will know all the words to the Canadian National Anthem by the time they complete their Labor Day weekend visit to Toronto. The Bisons will face the University of Toronto in the morning on Sept. 2 and then play Guelph University that night at 8.

On Sept. 3 the Bisons meet York University. They close out the trip on Sept. 4 with a morning visit to Humber College.

"We want to win, but we also want to learn a lot about our team and about our new guys," said Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson. "I want to see how we are going to play and how the new guys are going to fit."

Some of the other NCAA Division I schools playing Canadian teams in exhibitions during the Labor Day weekend are Florida, the defending National Champion, Louisville, La Salle and Army.

The best thing for coaches is 10 days of practice in August to get ready for the trip. Those 10 extra days could be extremely beneficial to the Bisons, especially center Ryan Daniel who sat out last season after transferring from Auburn University.

"Those 10 extra practice days in August are going to be critical," said Sanderson. `The four games are going to be a benefit. The only scary part is will the team be fatigued in January and February because of the early start. We might take two days off every couple of weeks so we won't be worn out."

The Bisons open the regular season at home Nov. 11 when Tusculum College visits. On Nov. 13 the University of Evansville comes to Allen Arena. The Bisons visit Evansville Dec. 16.

The first non-conference road game is Nov. 16 when the Bisons visit Missouri. On Nov. 19 the Bisons travel to SEC opponent South Carolina, the 2006 NIT Champion. Rounding out the non-conference road schedule are visits to ACC for Virginia Tech Dec. 19 and Liberty University Dec. 21.

"Virginia Tech has really, really good guard play," said Sanderson. "They are very athletic. And they play in the ACC, one of the best conferences in the country for basketball.

Mike Anderson is in his first season at Missouri after making the move from Alabama-Birmingham. Anderson may have changed schools, but Sanderson expects to see the same style of play.

"They will play 40 minutes of tough defense," said Sanderson. "They will be a difficult challenge."

Sanderson played for South Carolina as a guard from 1980-84. His brother, Barry, is an assistant coach for South Carolina coach Dave Odom.

"A lot of my ex-teammates still live in the Columbia area so it will be nice to see some people I haven't seen a in a long time," said Sanderson. "My experiences at South Carolina helped for a lot of my life. And I worked with Dave Odom on Terry Holland's staff at Virginia."

"I would hope because of the games in Canada that we will be really good early on," said Sanderson. "Ryan might benefit the most of all of the new guys having the chance to play those four games after almost two years off."

The Bisons close out the non-conference schedule with a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face the University of Alabama, another SEC opponent. His father, Wimp, spent 32 years at Alabama as an assistant and head coach.

"I grew up close to campus," said Sanderson. "Mark Gottfried is Alabama's coach and he played for my Dad. Alabama is going to be in the top 10 this season. It will be special to play there."

The remaining home non-conference games at Allen Arena feature Winston-Salem State Nov. 27, Fisk on Dec. 7 and Nicholls State on Dec. 14.

The games against Missouri, South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia Tech are expected to pay dividends as the Bisons seek a return to postseason play this season.

"Even though we came close we didn't win against Kentucky, Tennessee or Auburn last year," said Sanderson. "But our players really enjoyed the atmosphere and I think it made a difference for us in the conference."

The first two Atlantic Sun Conference games of the season are at home with Jacksonville visiting Nov. 30 and North Florida at Allen Arena Dec. 2.

Stetson visits Jan. 7 and Mercer comes to town Jan. 9 with Kennesaw State here Jan. 25, East Tennessee State Jan. 27, Belmont Feb. 10 and Campbell Feb. 15. The Bisons close out their home regular season schedule Feb. 17 against Gardner-Webb.

The first A-Sun road games of the season are Jan. 2 at Kennesaw State and Jan. 4 at East Tennessee. The Bisons then make three conference road trips in row with stops at Belmont Jan. 13, Gardner-Webb Jan. 18 and Campbell Jan. 20. The Bisons travel to Mercer Feb. 1 and Stetson Feb. 3. The final regular season games are on the road with North Florida on Feb. 22 and Jacksonville Feb. 24.

In addition to the Canadian tour, the Bisons have two more exhibitions on the schedule. Freed-Hardeman returns for its annual visit on Nov. 6. Harding University visits on Nov. 9.