WILMINGTON, NC (news release from UNCW) — Nine years ago, Maryland’s Drew Nicholas scampered through the northeast tunnel at the Gaylord Entertain Center in Nashville after watching his desperation heave rip through the nets, breaking the hearts of the Seahawk Nation.
Fast forward to 2011-12, when the Seahawks open the new basketball season on the road against Nicholas’ alma mater at the palatial Comcast Center in College Park. It’s the first matchup between the two clubs since UM’s dramatic 75-73 victory over UNCW in the opening round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
“I wasn’t here, obviously, but I’m sure that game is still a tough memory for our fans,” said second-year UNCW coach Buzz Peterson. “We’re just going to try to go up there and play as well as we can and get better each game. We’re more concerned about what we’re doing than our opponents at this point in the season.”
The 8 p.m. tip-off is available for viewing free on TheACC.com (a link may be found on UNCWsports.com). The Seahawk Sports Network, with Mike Vaccaro providing the radio play-by-play, begins its coverage with a pre-game show at 7:30 p.m. on Sunny 104.5 FM.
Both teams are seeking new identities as the new year gets under way. The Seahawks feature seven freshmen on the 15-man roster and defeated NCAA Division II foes St. Andrews (89-69) and Saint Augustine’s (56-53) in preseason exhibition outings.
Maryland, meanwhile, outlasted NAIA No. 1 Northwood, 89-84, last Friday in Mark Turgeon’s debut at the Comcast Center. Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin scored 23 points and senior guard Sean Mosley chipped in 20 to anchor five players in double figures for the Terrapins.
It will be UNCW’s second visit to College Park, but first to the 17,950-seat Comcast Center. On Dec. 27, 1997, the Terps tagged the Seahawks with a 74-36 loss at historic Cole Field House, tying for the seventh worst defeat in school history.
Peterson has never faced Maryland in his 13 seasons as a head coach. He went 7-1 against the Terps during his collegiate playing days at UNC Chapel Hill.
Peterson and new Maryland skipper Mark Turgeon have matched clipboards just once. Peterson piloted his Tulsa club to a 78-49 victory over Turgeon’s Wichita State squad on Dec. 22, 2000, en route to the 2001 NIT Championship.
The Seahawks stand 19-16 in season openers since joining the NCAA Division I ranks and have lost their last two debuts. UNCW has gone 6-4 in its last 10 season-opening games.
The Terrapins are one of two Atlantic Coast Conference opponents for the Seahawks in 2011-12. UNCW will also battle Wake Forest on Dec. 21 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum after knocking off the Demon Deacons, 81-69, at the Greensboro Coliseum last December.
“We’re really trying to focus on getting better,” added Peterson. “We’re trying to tighten up a few things and get back to the basics and fundamentals on both ends of the floor. We want to be focused on ourselves right now and get better as a team.
“I’ve known Mark for awhile and he’ll have them fired up. (Terrell) Stoglin is a very good guard and (Sean) Mosley is a very physical guard. They have some talent on the perimeter.”
Following Sunday’s game, the Seahawks return briefly to the Port City before hitting the road again next weekend with a Saturday date at Atlantic-10 Conference member Dayton.
The Seahawks make their home debut on Tuesday, Nov. 22, when Southern Conference power Marshall visits newly-renovated Trask Coliseum for a 7 p.m. tilt.
Click play video in order to find out what Keith Rendleman and Tanner Milson have to say about playing Maryland on Sunday.