Southern Miss Basketball Eagles Face Strong 2001-02 Schedule
Hattiesburg, Miss. - An appearance in a strong Hispanic College Fund Classic Tournament, a slate of quality regional games and the always-tough 16-game Conference USA schedule highlight the 2001-2002 basketball schedule released today by Head Coach James Green and Athletic Director Richard Giannini.
The Golden Eagles are coming off an outstanding 22-9 season that included a C-USA National Division championship as well as a conference co-championship, sharing the title with Cincinnati, and the second NIT appearance for a Green-coached Southern Miss squad. For that success, Green was honored as the league's coach of the year last season, and his outstanding center, Vandarel Jones, was named defensive player of the year.
The Golden Eagles open the season with a pair of exhibition games (Nov. 7 and 14), and host intrastate rival Jackson State, Nov. 17, before heading to the Albuquerque, N.M., tournament with a field that includes first-round opponent West Virginia, along with Pacific and host New Mexico, in addition to Southern Miss. Other non-conference opponents include Alcorn State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Arkansas State, Auburn, Millsaps, Morris Brown, South Alabama and Western Kentucky.
Southern Miss opens the conference season with a Jan. 5, game at Memphis and will play home and home series with the Tigers and other National Division opponents, Houston, South Florida, TCU, Tulane and UAB, along with crossover single games against America Division opponents Saint Louis, Marquette, East Carolina and Cincinnati. The C-USA Tournament is scheduled for Mar. 6-9 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"Given the quality players we lost from last season's team, the experience, scoring and rebounding, we'll have to mature quickly this season," said Green. "We'll miss Vandarel (Jones), Mel (Cauthen), David (Wall) and Carl (Henderson). They made significant contributions to our program.
"We'll also be without the services of Kilavorus Thompson who suffered a knee injury in summer league play and will spend the season rehabbing that injury. We had counted on having him back with us after he graduated on time and qualified to receive another year of eligibility from the NCAA, as did Vandarel last season. We'll miss having his experience and ability on what will be a very young team.
"I think we have added players who are capable of making us an even better team than we were last season. It's just a matter of how quickly we can make the progress we will have to make. I personally look forward to working with the group of players we have this season and to competing against a quality non-conference schedule as well as a much-improved C-USA. It should be fun for our fans to see the new faces we'll have and to watch our team grow."
The tournament in which the Golden Eagles will play is an exempt event, counting as only one game, and Green has one spot still available on the 2001-02 schedule and continues to try to fill that opening.
The complete 2001-02 schedule includes
Nov. 7, Global Sports (Exhibition); 14, Spirit Express (Exhibition); 17, Jackson State; 23-24, at Hispanic College Fund Classic (West Virginia, New Mexico and Pacific); 27, Alcorn State;
Dec.1, at Arkansas State; 5, at South Alabama; 15, Morris Brown; 18, Millsaps; 22, Western Kentucky; 29, at Auburn;
Jan. 5, at Memphis; 8, at South Florida; 12, UAB; 15, Tulane; 18, Memphis; 23, at Houston; 26, at TCU; 29, Saint Louis;
Feb. 2, at Tulane; 5, Houston; 9, Marquette; 12, at East Carolina; 15, at Cincinnati; 19, at Arkansas-Little Rock; 23, TCU; 26, at UAB;
Mar. 2, South Florida; 6-9, at C-USA Tournament (Cincinnati, Ohio).