From Samford Sports Information:
The Samford University basketball team officially released its 2014-15 schedule Thursday as the Bulldogs announced a 31-game slate featuring tough road contests against Purdue, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, as well as 14 key home games to be held in the Pete Hanna Center.
"I really like this schedule," said Samford head coach Scott Padgett. "We play some tough games early on with Purdue and Pitt, and then we have a stretch where we have a bunch of games against similar opponents where if we play our best then we'll have a good chance to win. Midway through the schedule, we'll play at Louisiana Tech, which should be a top-25 team, and then we'll also play another tough game at Wake Forest on Dec. 14."
Samford will also be traveling this month to the Bahamas to take part in the 2014 Summer of Thunder competition, which is being hosted by the Bahamas Basketball Federation. The Bulldogs will play three games in three days, Aug. 17-19, against the Real Deal Shockers, Atlantis All-Stars and the Commonwealth Giants.
Other collegiate teams scheduled to compete in the 2014 Summer of Thunder are as follows: Pittsburgh, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Chattanooga and Louisiana Tech.
"When I got the job, I had a lot of talks with my former boss at Manhattan, Steve Masiello, and they took a foreign trip to the Bahamas the year before," Padgett said. "He raved about how important that had been to their season and they obviously had a good year last year. They won their conference and nearly upset Louisville in the NCAA Tournament, so I knew with me coming in and putting in a new system, that it would be important for us to do something like this to get a jumpstart on the year."
Samford's regular-season schedule will begin Nov. 14 at Purdue as part of the Maui on the Mainland Tournament. Next up, the Bulldogs will continue play in the prestigious early-season tournament as they travel to Pittsburgh, Pa., for a matchup against the Pitt Panthers.
Since its inception in 1901, the Samford basketball team has never faced Pitt and will square off with Purdue for just the second time in school history.
"We're playing in the Maui on the Mainland Tournament and we'll start at Purdue and Pitt to open the year, so obviously we wanted to get the cupcakes out of the way early," joked Padgett. "We'll have some tough competition early on, but we'll also get some opponents that we've seen before in Austin Peay, Presbyterian, Louisiana-Monroe and Jacksonville. We've also added some teams in Kennesaw State, Campbell and Auburn-Montgomery that will be good games for us heading into conference play."
On Nov. 19, the Bulldogs are slated to play their first regular-season home game of the 2014-15 campaign as they welcome Austin Peay back to the Pete Hanna Center for a second straight year. Last season, Samford rallied for an 85-63 triumph over the Governors on Dec. 7, 2013.
The Bulldogs will open their schedule with six of seven games away from home.
After hosting Austin Peay on Nov. 19, Samford will head to Little Rock, Ark., for its final two games in the Maui on the Mainland Tournament. Hosted by Arkansas-Little Rock, Nov. 22-23, the Bulldogs will square off against Cal State-Northridge in the opening game and then face the winner of Missouri-Kansas City and Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 23.
Samford is scheduled to close out November with additional road matchups at Kennesaw State (Nov. 26) and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 28), before returning home to play host to Jacksonville (Dec. 1) and VMI (Dec. 4).
The Bulldogs' home contest against VMI will mark the beginning of their 2014-15 Southern Conference schedule. Samford is slated to play three of its first four conference games at home and two league matchups before Christmas. The Bulldogs will also play at Furman on Dec. 6, to being a three-game road trip also featuring contests at Wake Forest (Dec. 14) and Presbyterian College (Dec. 16).
Samford's longest homestand of the season will consist of five games from Dec. 21 through Jan. 5. During the key stretch, the Bulldogs are scheduled to play host to Louisiana-Monroe (Dec. 21), Campbell University (Dec. 28), Auburn-Montgomery (Dec. 30), Wofford (Jan. 3) and East Tennessee State (Jan. 5).
"This year's conference season is going to be all about figuring out what the conference is all about," Padgett said. "With all of the teams that left, there's sort of a changing of the guard so to speak, in that you're losing a lot of the teams and scouts that you were used to. Now, we're adding three new teams and most squads will not have a familiarity with those teams and I think all three will be pretty good."
East Tennessee State (ETSU) enters the 2014-15 campaign as one of three new teams to join the SoCon. ETSU will join VMI and Mercer in the league, while Davidson, Elon, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State have all departed the conference in the offseason.
"Last year, Mercer beat Duke in the NCAA Tournament, and even though they lost a lot from that team, Head Coach Bob Hoffman does a great job there, so I expect Mercer, VMI and ETSU to all come in and win games," said Padgett. "It's going to be an interesting year in the league, because I think everybody in the conference is going to be capable of beating anybody in the league, but also losing to anybody else in the league. This season is going to be a toss-up year in the conference and I won't be surprised if there are a lot of teams vying for the title at the end of the season."
Down the stretch in SoCon play, Samford will host home games against Chattanooga (Jan. 15), UNCG (Jan. 22), Western Carolina (Jan. 24), Furman (Jan. 31), The Citadel (Feb. 12) and Mercer (Feb. 21). Last season, the Bulldogs completed the year with a 6-10 conference record, but a 5-3 mark when playing in the Pete Hanna Center.
Conversely, Samford finished the 2013-14 campaign with a lackluster 2-15 record on the road. This season, with SoCon title hopes in mind, the Bulldogs will have to be more competitive when playing away from Birmingham. Samford will close out its conference season with key road games at Western Carolina (Feb. 5), ETSU (Feb. 7), Chattanooga (Feb. 14), UNCG (Feb. 26) and VMI (Feb. 28).
The 2015 SoCon Tournament will be held March 6-9, at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.
The Samford University basketball team will begin competitive play in its 2014-15 schedule on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. (CST) as the Bulldogs welcome the Clark Atlanta Panthers to the Pete Hanna Center for an exhibition contest.