TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2002
Dolphins Release 2002-03 Basketball Schedule
Oct. 15, 2002
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Seven defending conference champions, four NCAA Tournament and three NIT teams, including Mississippi State, Oregon and Iowa, highlight the 2002-03 Jacksonville University Basketball schedule, which was released on Tuesday. The Dolphins will play in two pre-conference tournaments - the Gazette/Hawkeye Challenge and the John Thompson Foundation Challenge - and will play non-conference road games against Mississippi State, Illinois State and New Orleans.
"We're playing a challenging schedule flavored with tournament play and postseason teams in order to challenge ourselves early and often as we prepare for Atlantic Sun play," says head coach Hugh Durham, who is in his fifth season at Jacksonville, his 35th season overall as a Division I head coach.
After opening the season at home against St. Leo, the Dolphins will play eight of their next 10 games on the road. JU plays in the John Thompson Challenge Nov. 24-25 in Eugene, Ore., which includes host Oregon, an NCAA Elite Eight team from a year ago, as well as Cal-Northridge and Grambling State. Following a road game against Savannah State, JU then heads to Iowa City to play in the Gazette/Hawkeye Challenge with host Iowa, which played in the 2002 NIT, as well as Southern Mississippi and defending Big Sky champion Montana State, which advanced to the second round of the NIT last year. The Dolphins also play at Illinois State from the Missouri Valley Conference on Dec. 18, before returning home to host UNC-Wilmington, which won the Colonial Athletic Association championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season, on Dec. 30.
JU's Atlantic Sun Conference schedule features 16 games as opposed to 20 last year because the league has split into two divisions to accommodate an unbalanced schedule. JU, which plays in the South Division, opens conference play with home games against Troy State (Jan. 4) and Mercer (Jan. 6), before playing three straight road games against Stetson (Jan. 22), defending tournament champion Florida Atlantic (Jan. 18) and UCF (Jan. 20). Following a three-game home stand in late January, the Dolphins will play five of their last eight A-Sun games on the road.
The Dolphins open the season with exhibition games against North Florida on Nov. 13 and Sports Tours International on Nov. 15 at historic Swisher Gymnasium.
JU, which has been picked to win the Atlantic Sun South Division by three national publications, returns four starters from last year's 18-12 team, including All-Atlantic Sun guard Kevin Sheppard (St. Croix, Virgin Islands). The Dolphins also return senior forward Calvin Warner (Jacksonville, Fla.), who averaged 13.7 points and 8.2 rebounds a game as a junior, as well as senior guard James Daniels (Port. St. Joe, Fla.) and senior forwards Antwan Robertson (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.), Tabari Brown (Brunswick, Ga.) and Ryan Lewis (New Orleans, La.).
Jacksonville is coming off back-to-back 18-win seasons for the first time in more than 15 years, while sporting two of the best defenses in school history. Durham is currently 10th among active Division I coaches with 591 career victories, just nine wins shy of becoming just the 38th coach all-time with 600 career victories.
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