Women's Basketball Reveals 2011-12 Schedule
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In her second year at the helm of the Belmont women's basketball program, head coach Brittney Ezell has lined up an ambitious schedule designed to prepare the 2011-12 edition of the Bruins for the always competitive Atlantic Sun and a chance to return to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history.
The Bruins will host 13 games in the friendly confines of the Curb Event Center and face off against opponents from eight different conferences, including four teams who saw postseason action in 2011. Attendance increased 54 percent in Ezell's first year with the program and the exciting schedule, including four teams from the state of Tennessee, should continue to assist in the rise of fans. The combination will test the Bruins early and often en route to meeting their goal of another run in the A-Sun Tournament.
"Our president, Dr. Fisher, and athletic director, Mr. Strickland, wanted us to upgrade our schedule and I think we did just that," Ezell said. "This schedule gives our fans a sneak preview of what they can expect in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) with us facing so many of them this year. We hope our fans will be just as excited about our schedule as we are."
Belmont opens the 2011 portion of its schedule on the road for its first three contests of the season. The Bruins head to future OVC foe UT Martin on November 11. Two days later, BU faces off against in-state rival Memphis. The Skyhawks made their first NCAA Tournament appearance last season, capping a 21-11 season while the Lady Tigers wrapped their 21-13 season with a trip to the WNIT.
"Those first three games will test us right off the bat. We will have great challenges with opponents from the OVC, Conference USA and SEC. It will give us a chance early to figure out what we're working with," said Ezell. I have the utmost respect for Coach Kevin McMillan, Coach Melissa McFerrin and Coach Nell Fortner. They all run first class programs in every way and I have no doubt that UT-Martin, Memphis and Auburn will again be in post season play."
"This is definitely a tough schedule and we will face many tests over the course of the season. Prepping for our non-conference schedule will pose a unique challenge," Ezell said. "The spacing of the games is similar to what we will face during the A-Sun Tournament where we have to prepare for so many different styles of play in a short amount of time."
Fans will get to see the Bruins in action for the first time in their home opener on November 18, when they host Indiana for in the Curb Event Center. Around the Thanksgiving holiday, BU fans can see the team in action at Ohio on November 23 before the team returns home four days later to host Indiana State. The Bobcats of the Mid-American Conference went 9-20 last season and while the Sycamores, hailing from the Missouri Valley Conference, finished with a 16-16 mark one year ago.
"We will get to open at home against a Big Ten power in Indiana. They will be a test because of their size and athleticism," said Ezell. "When we travel to Ohio, I know that Coach Randall's competitiveness and toughness will be reflected by her team."
Belmont closes the month of November with one of its biggest tests of the season – on the road at first-time opponent Florida on the 29th. The Gators advanced to the third round of the WNIT, amassing a 20-15 record last year. UF will become the ninth team from the SEC the Bruins have done battle with on the hardwoods since the program began.
"Playing Florida will serve as a great final tune up before our games against Kennesaw State and Mercer and the rest of the Atlantic Sun schedule," said Ezell. "It is always a great experience for our team and our program to play SEC powerhouses like Florida."
The month of December finds the Bruins jumpstarting Atlantic Sun play at home, hosting Kennesaw State (12/1) and Mercer (12/3) before returning to the road again for more non-conference play to close the 2011 portion of their schedule. In its final game before breaking for final exams, BU will travel to future OVC rival Eastern Kentucky on December 6. After the break, the team plays in-state rivals Chattanooga (12/15) on the road and Austin Peay (12/18) at home before closing the month at the Curb Event Center, hosting first-time opponent Texas State (12/21) right before the Christmas break. The Bruins have not faced off against the Lady Colonels, who went 6-21 last year, since 2006 while the Lady Mocs, who finished 17-14 a year ago, and the Lady Govs, who went 15-18 last year, made appearances in their respective conference tournaments.
The 2012 portion of the schedule finds Belmont opening with a road trip to Florida with stops at North Florida (1/2) and Jacksonville (1/4) before wrapping the week with part one of the annual Battle of the Boulevard against rival Lipscomb on January 7 at the Curb Event Center. Also visiting the Curb in January are Florida Gulf Coast on January 12 and Stetson two days later. The midway point of the conference slate has BU on the road at in-state rival East Tennessee State and USC Upstate on January 19 and 21, respectively. Finally, the Bruins conclude January at the Curb hosting the Ospreys (1/26) and the Dolphins (1/28).
BU's lone home series in the month of February is sandwiched by five road games, opening with part two of the Battle of the Boulevard on the home court of the Lady Bisons on the 4th. A return trip to Florida this time to take on the Hatters (2/9) and the Eagles (2/11) leads into the home finale weekend where the Bruins will host the Spartans and the Lady Bucs on February 16 and 18, respectively. Belmont concludes the regular season on the road in Georgia with contests at Kennesaw State (2/23) and Mercer (2/25).
"I really have to give credit to our assistant coaches who helped me put together an exciting non-conference schedule for us. It will be fun for the girls and the fans. It will serve as great learning grounds heading into an even more competitive Atlantic Sun this year with Florida Gulf Coast and USC Upstate eligible for the tournament."
"Our girls are motivated for this year's schedule. They've had it on their walls and posted in the weight room all summer. They really have a strong level of commitment to it and are passionate in their collective pursuits to continue to build upon the strong foundation of Belmont University Women's Basketball. I know our kids and staff are excited to see Bruin fans back in the Curb starting on November 18."
The Atlantic Sun Tournament returns to the campus of Mercer University in Macon, Ga., in 2012 during the first week of March.
Season tickets for the 2011-12 campaign can be purchased by clicking here or by calling the Ticket Office at 615-460-8500.
Printable version of 2011-12 Belmont Women's Basketball schedule.