Seahawks release non-conference men’s basketball schedule

WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) — A three-game round-robin tournament during the Thanksgiving holiday in musical hotbed Nashville and a clash with former head coach Brad Brownell’s Clemson club highlight the 2016-17 non-conference schedule for the defending Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball champion UNCW Seahawks.

The Seahawks, who captured their first CAA title in 10 seasons with last year’s sterling 25-8 record, return the bulk of their lineup for the new season, including CAA First-Teamer and CAA Tournament MVP Chris Flemmings and high-motor guard and Third-Team All-CAA selection Denzel Ingram.

“We’re very excited about the non-conference schedule and believe it will prepare us well for the tough CAA grind,” said Head Coach Kevin Keatts, two-time CAA Coach-of-the-Year. “We were looking for good schedule balance and competition that would emulate our CAA schedule.

“Scheduling is always a difficult task, but last year’s success made it especially tough this time around. The tournament in Nashville will provide great competition while giving our guys a terrific chance to bond as a team.”

Overall, the 13-game regular season non-conference slate features five home games, five road contests and three neutral site matchups. It has the Seahawks playing teams from 11 different conferences, with four first-time opponents (Claflin, Middle Tennessee State, Evansville and St. Bonaventure).

The slate includes four opponents who won at least 22 game last season – East Tennessee State (24), Middle Tennessee State (24), Evansville (25) and St. Bonaventure (22) – and three that advanced to postseason play. MTSU (NCAA), St. Bonaventure (NIT) and ETSU (Vegas 16) each had their seasons extended one year ago.

Following a home exhibition game vs. Mount Olive on Nov. 6, UNCW christens the new season on Friday, Nov. 11, against NCAA Division II opponent Claflin of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Orangeburg, S.C.-based Panthers will make their first appearance at UNCW’s Trask Coliseum.

Keatts and his club then travels to Eastern Kentucky on Monday, Nov. 14, to battle the Colonels of the Ohio Valley Conference before returning home on Nov. 20 against high-octane East Tennessee State. The Seahawks raced past the Buccaneers, 94-73, last November in Johnson City.

The Seahawks trek to Nashville in late November for their debut in the Challenge In Music City, an exempt tournament being staged at the 8,000-seat Nashville Municipal Auditorium. UNCW is scheduled to play Middle Tennessee State, Evansville and Toledo right after the Thanksgiving holiday.

UNCW then travels up to Kalamazoo, Mich., on Nov. 30 to battle Western Michigan before returning home briefly on Dec. 3 to entertain NCAA Division II Pfeiffer on Dec. 3 as part of the Nashville event.

The Seahawks next hit the road for games at first-time foe St. Bonaventure and longtime rival Campbell.

The Seahawks play their final two games before the Christmas break at home against Radford (Dec. 17) and rival East Carolina (Dec. 20).

UNCW concludes its non-conference schedule on Dec. 28 by taking on Brownell and his Tigers at newly-renovated Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. Brownell coached four seasons at UNCW from 2003-06, compiling an 83-40 record and leading the Seahawks to CAA titles in 2003 and 2006.

In addition to Flemmings and Ingram, the Seahawks return starters C.J. Bryce and Jordon Talley off last year’s team that reeled off 11 consecutive victories late in the campaign and nearly upset Duke in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Season tickets are available now for $190 plus sales tax per seat and donations to the Seahawk Club are required in certain sections. An Economy Plan Special is also available that allows fans to purchase season tickets for $99 plus sales tax in the second level corner and end zone sections (Sections 201, 207, 211-215, and 221-228). The deadline for renewing priority season tickets is Sept. 1, 2016.

2016-17 UNCW Men’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
(Times Announced Later)

Nov.     6         MOUNT OLIVE (exhibition)
11        CLAFLIN
14        at Eastern Kentucky
25         Middle Tennessee State*
26         Evansville*
27         Toledo*
30         at Western Michigan
Dec.     3         PFEIFFER*
10         at St. Bonaventure
14         at Campbell
17         RADFORD
20         EAST CAROLINA
28         at Clemson

*Challenge In Music City

2016-17 Opponent Capsules

Claflin “Panthers”
Head Coach: Ricky Jackson (4th Season)
2015-16 Record: 16-13 (10-8 in SIAC)
Series Record: 1st Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
Notes: Top scorer Patrell Rodgers, a 6-2, 175-pound senior guard, returns to lead the Panthers at 14.8 ppg…The Panthers lost in the quarterfinals of the SIAC Tournament last season in Birmingham, Ala…Coach Ricky Jackson’s club went 6-6 on the road in 2015-16…The Panthers averaged 71.7 ppg, but committed 14.1 turnovers each contest.

Eastern Kentucky “Colonels”
Head Coach: Dan McHale (2nd Season)
2015-16 Record: 15-16 (6-10 in OVC)
Series Record: EKU, 3-2
Last Meeting: UNCW 78, EKU 69, Nov. 16, 2015, Wilmington, N.C.
Notes: The Colonels finished last season on a downward spiral, losing four of their last five games…The Seahawks handed the Colonels a 19-point loss in EKU’s road opener…EKU lost its top two scorers in Jarelle Reischel (17.9 ppg) and Javontae Hawkins (17.0 ppg)…Transfers Dillon Avare (Louisville) and Jackson Davis (Butler), bolster Dan McHale’s second club.

East Tennessee State “Buccaneers”
Head Coach: Steve Forbes (2nd Season)
2015-16 Record: 24-12 (14-4 in SoCon)
Series Record: UNCW, 6-4
Last Meeting: UNCW 94, ETSU 73, Nov. 28, 2015, Johnson City, Tenn.
Notes: Steve Forbes brings the high octane Buccaneers to Trask Coliseum for the first time since early in the 2003 season…The Bucs averaged 78.1 ppg last season…UNCW handed ETSU one of just two home losses in 15 home games…Senior guard T.J. Cromer (14.9 ppg) is the top returning scorer…Six seniors are listed on ETSU’s 13-man roster.

Middle Tennessee State “Blue Raiders”
Head Coach: Kermit Davis (15th Season)
2015-16 Record: 24-12 (14-4 in C-USA)
Series Record: 1st Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
Notes: Coach Kermit Davis and MTSU has earned two NCAA Tournament berths and one NIT invitation in the last five years…The Blue Raiders return their top two scorers from last year’s team that went 25-10 and advanced to the NCAA’s Round of 32…MTSU upset No. 2 Michigan State, 90-81, in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament…Junior Giddy Potts (14.9 ppg) and senior Reggie Upshaw (13.7 ppg) both earned All-Conference honors one year ago.

Toledo “Rockets”
Head Coach: Tod Kowalczyk (7th Season)
2015-16 Record: 17-15 (8-10 in MAC West)
Series Record: Tied, 2-all
Last Meeting: Toledo 75, UNCW 73, Nov. 30, 2011, Toledo, Ohio
Notes: The Rockets will be led by junior guard Jonathan Williams (17.6 ppg), a Third-Team All-MAC selection…Williams anchors a returning group of three starters and six lettermen…UT must replace conference leading scorer (19.3 ppg) and First-Team All-MAC center Nathan Boothe…Steve Taylor, Jr., will play his final season at Toledo after transferring from Marquette.

Evansville “Purple Aces”
Head Coach: Marty Simmons (9th Season)
2015-16 Record: 25-9 (12-6 in MVC)
Series Record: 1st Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
Notes: The Purple Aces and Seahawks collide for the first time on the hardwood…Evansville tied for second with Illinois State behind Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference standings…Evansville lost its top two leading scorers in D.J. Balentine (20.5 ppg) and Egidijus Mockevicius (15.7 ppg)…Senior guard Jaylon Brown (10.8 ppg) started all 34 games for the Purple Aces, who led the MVC in offense with 74.3 ppg.

Western Michigan “Broncos”
Head Coach: Steve Hawkins (14th Season)
2015-16 Record: 13-19 (7-1 in MAC West)
Series Record: Tied, 1-all
Last Meeting: UNCW 80, WMU 76, Nov. 21, 2015, Wilmington, N.C.
Notes: WMU returns nine players and four of five starters… WMU fell to Northern Illinois in the opening round of the MAC Tournament in DeKalb, Ill…Junior point guard Thomas Wilder, a Second-Team All-MAC pick, had the highest scoring average in MAC games at 20.4 ppg with a league-best 2.1 steals per game…The Broncos will battle defending national champion Villanova in the first game of the Charleston Classic.

Pfeiffer “Falcons”
Head Coach: Jeremy Currier (7th Season)
2015-16 Record: 14-15 (10-10 in Conference Carolinas)
Series Record: Pfeiffer, 9-1
Last Meeting: Pfeiffer 74, UNCW 59, Feb. 23, 1974, Pfeiffer, N.C.
Notes: The Seahawks and Pfeiffer, old rivals in the NAIA days, meet for the first time in 32 years…Senior guard Andrew Guerrero (16.6 ppg), junior playmaker Josh Calhoun (12.6 ppg) and senior guard Mike Smith (12.3 ppg) are the team’s top returning scorers…A Third-Team Carolinas Conference pick, Smith drained 86 triples last season on 41.7 percent behind the arc.

St. Bonaventure “Bonnies”
Head Coach: Mark Schmidt (10th Season)
2015-16 Record: 22-9 (14-4 in A-10)
Series Record: 1st Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
Notes: The Bonnies earned a share of the A-10 regular season title, the first in program history…Coach Mark Schmidt’s club collected its16th NIT berth and recorded the first 20-win regular season since 1976-77…St. Bonaventure set a school record with 14 wins in the A-10…The Bonnies finished 27th in the RPI rankings…Junior guard Jaylen Adams (17.9) is the top returning scorer.

Campbell “Camels”
Head Coach: Kevin McGeehan (4th Season)
2015-16 Record: 12-18 (5-13 in BSC)
Series Record: UNCW, 58-43
Last Meeting: UNCW 106, CU 83, Dec. 28, 2015, Wilmington, N.C.
Notes: In the longest series on record for UNCW, the Seahawks and Camels will battle for the 102nd time in 2016-17…The Camels return three of their top five scorers…Sophomore guard Chris Clemons was named 2016 Big South Conference Freshman of the Year after ranking seventh among the nation’s freshmen scorers (18.5 ppg)…Senior guard Kyre’ Hamer (9.5 ppg) and junior forward Shane Whitfield (7.6 ppg) will also provide offense for the Camels.

Radford “Highlanders”
Head Coach: Mike Jones (3rd Season)
2015-16 Record: 16-15 (9-9 in BSC)
Series Record: Tied, 4-all
Last Meeting: Radford 69, UNCW 67, Dec. 19, 2015, Radford, Va.
Notes: The Highlanders make their first trip to Wilmington since Dec. 18, 2010, to face the Seahawks…Sophomore forward Ed Polite, Jr., is the top returning scorer (8.7 ppg) on a Highlander team with just one senior…Radford opened last season with a double OT victory at Georgetown and also knocked off Penn State on the road for the program’s first victory over a Big 10 opponent.

East Carolina “Pirates”
Head Coach: Jeff Lebo (7th Season)
2015-16 Record: 12-20 (4-14 in AAC)
Series Record: UNCW, 35-28
Last Meeting: ECU 78, UNCW 73, Dec. 16, 2015, Greenville, N.C.
Notes: Longtime rivals UNCW and ECU will be squaring off for the 64th time…The Pirates return three of the team’s top four scorers, including leading point producer B.J. Tyson (14.6 ppg)…Senior guard Caleb White (12.5 ppg) is ECU’s eighth all-time leading scorer…Sophomore swing man Kentrell Barkley made the AAC All-Rookie unit.

Clemson “Tigers”
Head Coach: Brad Brownell (7th Season)
2015-16 Record: 17-14 (10-8 in ACC)
Series Record: Clemson, 1-0
Last Meeting: CU 67, UNCW 50, Nov. 14, 1997, Clemson, S.C.
Notes: The Seahawks face former head coach Brad Brownell for the first time in this late December pairing at revamped Littlejohn Coliseum…The Tigers defeated four top-25 opponents last January…Clemson returns All-ACC standout Jaron Blossomgame (18.7 ppg) and starters Donte Grantham (10.2 ppg) and Avry Holmes (10.0 ppg)…Blossomgame was voted the ACC’s Most Improved Player in 2015-16 and had the highest scoring average by a Tiger since 2000-01.

2016-17 Conference Opponents
American Athletic Conference (1): East Carolina
Atlantic Coast Conference (1): Clemson
Atlantic 10 Conference (1): St. Bonaventure
Big South Conference (2): Campbell, Radford
Conference USA (1): Middle Tennessee State
Conference Carolinas (1): Pfeiffer
Mid-American Conference (2): Toledo, Western Michigan
Missouri Valley Conference (1): Evansville
Ohio Valley Conference (1): Eastern Kentucky
Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (1): Claflin
Southern Conference (1): East Tennessee State

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