Men's Hoops sets 2011-12 schedule

Eric Griffin
Eric Griffin

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Dates against members of the Atlantic Coast and Big Ten conferences, plus a full slate of Big South Conference games highlight the 2011-12 Campbell University men's basketball schedule.

In addition to trips to North Carolina State and Virginia Tech, the Camels will travel to Iowa as part of the Global Sports Hoops Showcase. 

In-state rivals North Carolina A&T and East Carolina will visit Gore Arena, while Campbell will also travel to Appalachian State and UNC Wilmington during the non-league portion of the ledger.

"This is probably the most entertaining schedule we've put together in the time I've been here," said head coach Robbie Laing, who is entering his ninth year in charge of the program.  "There is a lot of regional appeal to it as our home-and-home agreements with ECU, UNCW and Appalachian continue.  We've also added a couple of exhibition games so our fans can get a preview of this year's team."

After playing closed scrimmages during the pre-season for the last five years, Campbell will face Division II members Wingate (Nov. 3) and Fayetteville State (Nov. 7) in exhibition games to open the 2011-12 ledger.

Campbell then opens the regular season with three-consecutive home dates.  Great West Conference member Houston Baptist visits Gore Arena for the season opener on Friday, Nov. 11.  CU has won five-straight home openers, including last year's 93-77 triumph over Longwood.

On Nov. 14, East Carolina visits Gore Arena for the second time in three years.  Last year at Greenville, the Pirates claimed a 76-63 decision.  Campbell knocked off the Pirates of Conference USA 74-68 on Nov. 17, 2009 in Buies Creek.

Under first-year coach Jeff Lebo in 2010-11, East Carolina posted an 18-16 overall record, 8-8 in C-USA, and advanced to the post-season tournament.

Three days later, the Camels open play in the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, a five-school event co-hosted by Iowa and Creighton.  Last year, the Camels won the event at Auburn, Ala., after defeating Middle Tennessee and the host Tigers.

North Carolina A&T and Campbell square off in the first game of the Showcase on Nov. 17 at Gore Arena.  The Aggies have won seven of the last 11 meetings between the schools, but CU has claimed the last two contests, most recently a 93-72 triumph on Dec. 14, 2005 at Carter Gym.

Last year the Aggies finished 15-17 overall, 9-7 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and claimed non-conference wins over UNC Wilmington (84-79 in OT) and UNC Greensboro (82-70).

"This schedule marks a great chance for everybody to get excited about Campbell basketball.  Counting the exhibitions, we'll be at home five-straight times, including games against ECU and A&T, to open the year," said Laing.

CU continues play in the Global Sports Hoops Showcase with three road games over a five-day span during Thanksgiving week.  The Camels visit the Windy City to play at Chicago State on Mon., Nov. 21.  CU then travels to Iowa on Nov. 23 for a 7:00 CST tip-off against the Hawkeyes in only CU's second-ever game against a Big Ten foe.  Campbell fell at Minnesota 67-57 on Dec. 1, 1997 in its first trip into Big Ten territory.

Last season in its first year under Coach Fran McCaffery, Iowa finished just 11-20 overall and 4-14 in the Big Ten, but claimed league victories over Michigan State and Purdue, while sweeping both contests from Indiana in a season for the first time since 1944-45.

On Nov. 25, CU closes out its Global Sports Hoops Showcase trip in Omaha, Neb., at Missouri Valley Conference member Creighton.  The Blue Jays are coming off a 23-16 season (10-8 in the MoValley) when they advanced to the final round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).

Dec. 1, 2011 stands as the date of Campbell's first Big South Conference regular season game since Feb. 26, 1994.  After a 17-year stint in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Camels re-joined the Big South (of which they were charter members from 1983-94) on July 1, 2011.

Liberty, which defeated Campbell in the 1994 Big South Tournament championship game, visits Gore Arena for the league opener.  Last year, the Flames finished 19-13 overall and second in the Big South standings with a 13-5 record.

A familiar face will appear on the visiting team bench in Flames assistant coach Myron Guillory, who spent three years in a similar position at Campbell before leaving Coach Laing's staff to join (now Liberty head coach) Dale Layer's staff at Colorado State in 2005.

Campbell owns a 9-8 edge in the all-time series with the Flames after the teams split a pair of games during the 2007-08 season.

The Camels host High Point (12-19, 7-11 in 2010-11) on Dec. 3 at Gore Arena.  In a series that dates to the 1954-55 season when both schools were junior colleges, the Panthers own a 24-18 all-time edge.  CU and HPU have not met in men's hoops since Robbie Laing took over as head coach prior to the 2003-04 season.

After a week-long break for final exams, Campbell returns to action on Sat., Dec. 10 in a 1:00 p.m. tip-off against Division III member Methodist (10-16, 5-7 in the USA South last season).  The contest will mark the first meeting between the programs since Dec. 13, 1995 when Campbell claimed a 68-50 triumph at Carter Gym.

Campbell opens a five-game road stretch to close 2011 on Dec. 14 at Houston Baptist.  Three days later, the Camels face ACC member Virginia Tech for the third-straight year.  In last season's opening game at Blacksburg, Va., the 21st-ranked Hokies held off CU 70-60 in Campbell's closest contest ever against a nationally-ranked team.  Two years ago, Virginia Tech defeated CU 71-60 at Gore Arena in front of the largest crowd ever to witness a Campbell home basketball game (3205).

On Dec. 19, Campbell and UNC Wilmington will renew a rivalry for the 94th time, easily the most frequent opponent in Camel hoops history.  Last year, the Camels knocked off the Seahawks at Gore Arena 57-56 thanks to Junard Hartley's 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds to play.

Campbell closes its pre-Christmas slate on Dec. 22 at Appalachian State.  The last time the teams met, Campbell posted a 92-63 victory on Dec. 30, 2009 at Gore Arena after converting 19 Mountaineer turnovers into 27 points.

The Camels then make the short trip to Raleigh on Dec. 29 to take on North Carolina State at Reynolds Coliseum during Mark Gottfried's first season as Wolfpack head coach.  On Dec. 4, 1993, Campbell claimed its only victory ever against an ACC school in a 72-69 overtime triumph at NC State.  The last meeting between the schools resulted in a 99-44 victory for then 17th-ranked NC State on Nov. 26, 2004 at the RBC Center.

"A five-game road trip during December will be very challenging, but very important to the growth of our program," said Coach Laing.  "From there on out, however, for the most part, we'll be concentrating on trying to win the league with the exception of a surprise opponent in the ESPN Bracket Busters in mid-February."

Campbell begins a 14-game stretch in league play on Jan. 2 when Coastal Carolina visits Gore Arena.  CU owns a 19-14 advantage all-time against the Chanticleers, most recently splitting a home-and-home series over the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns.

Coastal Carolina finished atop the 2011 Big South standings at 28-6 overall, 16-2 in the league.

The Camels then head on the road in Big South play for the first time with a trip to Charleston Southern (Jan. 5) and Presbyterian (Jan. 7).  Charleston Southern finished last year with a 16-16 overall mark and 9-9 in the league, while PC was 13-18, 7-11.

Campbell holds a 20-19 edge all-time in the series with CSU, but the teams have not played since the 1997-98 campaign when CU defeated the Bucs in the Coca-Cola Invitational at Fayetteville, N.C.

Presbyterian and Campbell have never squared off in men's hoops since the Camels moved to the senior college ranks in 1961.  The Blue Hose knocked off ACC member Wake Forest 66-64 last season at Winston-Salem.  The 2011-12 campaign marks PC's final year in its transition to full Division I membership.

Defending Big South Tournament champ UNC Asheville visits Gore Arena on Jan. 12 for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.  UNCA was the first Division I school to play in Campbell's new facility on Nov. 22, 2008 when the Camels dealt the Bulldogs a 94-57 setback.  CU most recently claimed an 85-66 victory at UNCA on Nov. 21, 2009 to improve to 19-13 all-time against the Bulldogs.

UNCA finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 20-14 overall mark, 11-7 in the league, and defeated Arkansas-Little Rock in the NCAA First Four before falling to top-seeded Pittsburgh.

Campbell's former A-Sun rival Gardner-Webb will visit Buies Creek for the first time as a Big South member on Jan. 14.  The Camels and Runnin' Bulldogs have squared off in men's hoops at every competitive level, including junior college, NAIA and NCAA Division I.  Gardner-Webb holds a 9-8 advantage in the series after the teams split two games during the 2007-08 campaign.  GWU went 11-21 overall, 6-12 in 2010-11.

The Camels meet Winthrop for the first time since the 2000-01 season on Jan. 17 at Rock Hill, S.C.  Former Camel assistant Randy Peele (1988-91) is entering his 3rd year as the Eagles' head coach and led the squad to the 2010 Big South tourney crown.

Campbell concludes its first segment of the unbalanced, 18-game Big South men's basketball schedule with a game at Radford and first-year head coach Mike Jones on Jan. 19, followed by a home contest against VMI on Jan. 21.  The Camels face RU and VMI just once during the 2011-12 season, while squaring off against all other Big South schools twice.

Radford owns a 17-10 lead in the all-time series after the schools divided two games during the 2007-08 campaign.  Last year, the Highlanders finished 5-24, 2-16.

In the most recent meetings between Campbell and VMI, the Keydets scored 97-92 and 88-76 wins over the Camels during the 2008-09 season.  The Keydets led the country in scoring average (87.9 points per game) last year while finishing 18-13 overall, 10-8 in the league.

The second half of the home-and-home Big South slate begins with trips to Gardner-Webb (Jan. 26) and UNCA (Jan. 28), followed by home games with Charleston Southern (Feb. 2) and Presbyterian (Feb. 4).  After a Tuesday (Feb. 7) contest at Coastal Carolina, the Camels host Winthrop (Feb. 9) in their final regular season home game.

Campbell then participates for the first time in the ESPN Bracket Busters event on Sat., Feb. 18 with a road game at a yet-to-be-determined opponent.  The regular season concludes with games at High Point (Feb. 22) and Liberty (Feb. 25).

The Big South Tournament opens with first-round games on Mon., Feb. 27 with the 10th seed hosting the seventh seed and the 8th seed hosting the ninth seed.  The regular season champion will host the quarterfinals (Feb. 29) and semifinals (Mar. 1) with the semifinal round televised by ESPNU.  The highest remaining seed will host the championship game (Mar. 3 on ESPN2) with the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament at stake.

During its first stint as a Big South member, Campbell advanced to the league tournament final on four occasions (1987, 1989, 1992, 1994) and won the title in 1992.

The Fighting Camels (12-19 overall, 6-14 A-Sun in 2010-11) have produced double-figure victories in six-straight seasons and counted non-conference wins over Auburn, Middle Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington and Western Carolina among its triumphs in 2010-11.

After a 17-year stint in the Atlantic Sun Conference, where it won the 2010 regular season championship, Campbell returned to the Big South Conference (of which it was a charter member from 1983-94) on July 1.

Senior forward Eric Griffin returns after finishing ninth among A-Sun leaders in scoring (13.2), fifth in rebounding (6.9), eighth in field goal percentage (.504), fifth in steals (1.69), second in blocks (2.1), sixth in defensive rebounds (4.72) and 12th in offensive rebounds (2.17). 

Also back is senior guard Lorne Merthie, MVP of last year's Global Sports Hoops Showcase and a pre-season all-league performer in '10-11, who ranked among A-Sun leaders in scoring (11.2), three-point field goals made (55) and three-point accuracy (.420) before suffering a knee injury in mid-January that caused him to miss the last four weeks of the season.

Senior Amir Celestin has scored 495 points in 90 career games (7.2 ppg in '10-11).

2011-12 Campbell University Men's Basketball Schedule

Date           Day            Opponent                                                                           Location                          Time
Nov. 3        Thurs.        WINGATE (EXHIBITION)                                                     BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Nov. 7        Mon.          FAYETTEVILLE STATE (EXHIBITION)                                  BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Nov. 11       Fri.             HOUSTON BAPTIST                                                           BUIES CREEK                    7:30
Nov. 14       Mon.          EAST CAROLINA                                                                BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Nov. 17       Thurs.        NORTH CAROLINA A&T $                                                   BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Nov. 21       Mon.           at Chicago State $                                                               Chicago, Ill.                  7:05 CST
Nov. 23       Wed.          at Iowa $                                                                             Iowa City, Iowa             7:00 CST
Nov. 25       Fri.             at Creighton $                                                                      Omaha, Neb.               7:05 CST
Dec. 1        Thurs.        LIBERTY *                                                                          BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Dec. 3        Sat.            HIGH POINT *                                                                     BUIES CREEK                    1:00
Dec. 10       Sat.            METHODIST                                                                       BUIES CREEK                    1:00
Dec. 14       Wed.          at Houston Baptist                                                               Houston, Texas            7:05 CST
Dec. 17       Sat.            at Virginia Tech                                                                    Blacksburg, Va.                   4:00
Dec. 19       Mon.           at UNC Wilmington                                                              Wilmington, N.C.                 7:00
Dec. 22       Thurs.         at Appalachian State                                                            Boone, N.C.                        7:00
Dec. 29       Thurs.         at North Carolina State (Reynolds Coliseum)                          Raleigh, N.C.                       7:00
Jan. 2         Mon.          COASTAL CAROLINA * (DH)                                               BUIES CREEK                    7:45
Jan. 5         Thurs.         at Charleston Southern *                                                       Charleston, S.C.                  7:30
Jan. 7         Sat.            at Presbyterian *                                                                  Clinton, S.C.                       7:30
Jan. 12       Thurs.        UNC ASHEVILLE *                                                              BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Jan. 14       Sat.            GARDNER-WEBB *                                                             BUIES CREEK                    1:00
Jan. 17        Tues.          at Winthrop *                                                                       Rock Hill, S.C.                    7:00
Jan. 19        Thurs.         at Radford *                                                                         Radford, Va.                        7:00
Jan. 21       Sat.            VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE * (DH)                                BUIES CREEK                    3:30
Jan. 26        Thurs.         at Gardner-Webb *                                                               Boiling Springs, N.C.            7:00
Jan. 28        Sat.            at UNC Asheville *                                                                Asheville, N.C.                     4:30
Feb. 2        Thurs.        CHARLESTON SOUTHERN *                                               BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Feb. 4        Sat.            PRESBYTERIAN * (DH)                                                        BUIES CREEK                    3:30
Feb. 7         Tues.          at Coastal Carolina *                                                            Conway, S.C.                      TBA
Feb. 9        Thurs.        WINTHROP *                                                                      BUIES CREEK                    7:00
Feb. 18       Sat.            at Bracket Busters                                                               TBA                                    TBA
Feb. 22       Wed.          at High Point *                                                                     High Point, N.C.                  7:00
Feb. 25       Sat.            at Liberty *                                                                          Lynchburg, Va.                    TBA
Feb. 27       Mon.           Big South Tournament First Round                                        Campus Sites                     TBA
Feb. 29       Wed.          Big South Tournament Quarterfinals                                       Top Seed                            TBA
Mar. 1         Thurs.         Big South Tournament Semifinals (ESPNU)                            Top Seed                            TBA
Mar. 3         Sat.            Big South Tournament Championship (ESPN2)                       Highest Seed                      TBA

All games aired on WCLN 107.3 FM / * Big South Conference opponent / $ Global Sports Hoops Showcase