HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University head men's basketball coach Donnie Jones announced today the Thundering Herd's 2008-09 schedule, which features a 16-game Conference USA slate and 31 regular season contests overall - nearly half of which will come against teams that competed in postseason play a season ago.
Marshall's schedule will see the Herd play 16 games at the Cam Henderson Center while 15 of its 31 overall games will come against teams that qualified for a postseason tournament in 2008, highlighted by its C-USA opener on the road at NCAA runner-up Memphis on Jan. 7. Other NCAA Tournament teams that the Herd will face include Sweet 16 team West Virginia (Jan. 14), West Coast Conference champion San Diego (Jan. 2) and Southland Conference champ Texas-Arlington (Dec. 13).
National Invitational Tournament (NIT) teams that dot the Herd's schedule this season include Ole Miss (Nov. 23), Morgan State (Nov. 21), Dayton (Dec. 23) and UAB (Jan. 31 and March 7). Ole Miss was an NIT Final Four participant last April. Marshall will face College Basketball Invitational (CBI) champion and C-USA rival Tulsa twice next season, Jan. 17 at Tulsa and Feb. 4 in Huntington. The Herd will challenge four other teams that participated in the inaugural CBI, including Old Dominion (Nov. 29), Ohio (Dec. 17), UTEP (Feb. 14) and Houston (Feb. 18) - all at the Henderson Center.
Jones, who guided the Herd to its first winning campaign (16-14) in seven seasons as a rookie head coach last year, will open his second year at Marshall at the Henderson Center versus WVU Tech (Nov. 16) in the opening game of the second annual Glenn Wilkes Classic. Marshall will then travel to Daytona Beach, Fla., for the remaining three games of the GWC, where the Herd will face three teams in three days, from Nov. 21-23, versus Morgan State, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Ole Miss."We're very excited about the challenge our non-conference schedule brings," Jones said. "Having the opportunity to play in a preseason tournament should help prime us for our conference tournament at the end of the season."Our schedule helps prepare us for a very competitive and intense Conference USA schedule. We have several games on the road that will challenge our team early in competitive environments. We also look forward to having some very good non-conference opponents in the Henderson Center."The Herd will return home to take on Old Dominion (Nov. 29) for the first time since 1977 and former Southern Conference rival East Tennessee State (Dec. 2). A trip to Boston, Mass., follows as the Herd will face the Boston University Terriers on Dec. 6 in a rematch of a Herd win versus BU in Huntington last November.
Marshall will then begin a grueling stretch in which seven of its next 10 opponents played postseason basketball last season, beginning with home dates versus Texas-Arlington (Dec. 13) and Ohio (Dec. 17). A game with University of The Cumberlands (Dec. 20) precedes Marshall's trip to the University of Dayton to face the Flyers (Dec. 23). The game will mark the Herd's first trip to UD since Dec. 2, 2000, when MU upset the 24th-ranked Flyers 67-65 at UD Arena - the only time in MU history that it claimed a road win against a top-25 team.
MU will gear up for its first ever matchup with Tennessee State (Dec. 28) prior to departing for San Diego, Calif., for a matchup against the Toreros (Jan. 2). The Herd upended USD, who knocked off No. 4 seed Connecticut in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, by 16 points at the Henderson Center last New Year's Eve. Marshall's conference opener at Memphis (Jan. 7) is followed by its C-USA home-opener vs. East Carolina (Jan. 10). The Herd and WVU Mountaineers will continue the annual Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic in Charleston, W.Va., on Jan. 14 before Marshall departs for the first of two dates with CBI champ Tulsa (Jan. 17).
Marshall's remaining C-USA home dates include SMU (Jan. 21), UAB (Jan. 31), Tulsa (Feb. 4), Tulane (Feb. 7), Houston (Feb. 18), UCF (Feb. 28) and Rice (March 4). The Herd's remaining C-USA road schedule consists of UCF (Jan. 25), Southern Miss (Jan. 27), UTEP (Feb. 14), Tulane (Feb. 21), East Carolina (Feb. 25) and UAB (March 7).
Marshall will engage Rio Grande (Feb. 10) at the Henderson Center for the second straight season in the year's final non-conference tilt.
The 2009 C-USA Championship will once again be played at the FedExForum in Memphis. The tournament tips off on March 11, with the championship game to be played on March 14.
Marshall will play an exhibition game in advance of the regular season when it welcomes Wheeling Jesuit of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to the Henderson Center on Nov. 1.
Marshall's appearance in the Glenn Wilkes Classic elicits four games for the Herd, but the event serves as an exempt tournament (only counts as one game) on the schedule. The Herd's 31 scheduled regular season games are tied as the third most in MU history with the 1947-48 team. MU's 1945-46 team played a record 35 regular season games while the 1946-47 team played 32 contests.
A complete list of starting times and television appearances are yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.