Florida Tech Men’s Basketball Releases 2012-13 Schedule
By Florida Tech // October 31, 2012
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA — One year removed from its first-ever outright Sunshine State Conference Championship, Florida Tech returns to action Nov. 16 against the University of Puerto Rico – Bayamon, head coach Billy Mims announced on Friday.
Bayamon is the first of three Puerto Rican opponents the Panthers will face in their opening four games of the season.
Wanted A Tough Schedule
“We have a very tough schedule this year and that’s what we wanted,” Mims said.
“We are the defending Sunshine State Conference Champions. With that, there is a responsibility. So we have one of the tougher schedules we’ve put out in quite a while.”
The second will come in the Hooters of Melbourne Thanksgiving Tournament, hosted at the Clemente Center gym on the FIT campus, as the team faces Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras.
“We have a very good Thanksgiving tournament this year,” Mims said.
“We have the University of Wisconsin Parkside coming to the tournament. That’s a very big university up in Wisconsin. They play in one of the best Division II leagues in the country.”
Night in and night out they are playing against teams that could win the Division II National Championship.
“We have a famed, historic program in Morehouse College. Morehouse has been a big name in Division II. They are a SIAC program and they have always been one of the cream of the crop in the SIAC.”
NCAA Division I UCF Exhibition Game
The Panthers will end the four-game home stretch with a matchup against Puerto Rico – Mayaguez before heading to Orlando, Fla. to take on NCAA Division I opponent UCF in an exhibition game.
“Although that counts as an exhibition game on our schedule, it will be a regular-season game for UCF,” Mims said of taking on the Knights.
“They are moving in to the Big East. In essence, we are playing a Big East program in Orlando. They have one of the most beautiful arenas in all of college basketball. It’s exciting for our guys and our fans to go over there.”
After another one-game stint at home against DeVry University on Dec. 8, FIT will pack its bags for Las Vegas, Nev. to participate in the Las Vegas Desert Classic, a two-game stretch against Cameron University and Abilene Christian. The two-day event will begin Dec. 15.
“That is just an outstanding opportunity for us,” Mims said.
“Everybody thinks, ‘well yes you’re going to Vegas. That’s what is exciting.’ Sure that’s exciting. But we’re excited for what it is. It’s a conference challenge between the Sunshine State Conference and the Lone Star Conference. The Lone Star Conference is based mainly in Texas and Oklahoma and it is a tremendous conference.”
The New Year brings with it the start of conference play.
The Panthers will open up the SSC schedule in Miami Shores, Fla. at Barry on Jan. 2.
FIT split the series with the Buccaneers last season.
Three days later the Panthers will quickly exit conference play for the first of a two-game home-and-home series against Palm Beach Atlantic. PBA will host the Jan. 5 matchup before Florida Tech returns the favor on Feb. 6.
“We have 16 tough Sunshine State Conference opponents, as always, along with two games against Palm Beach Atlantic,” Mims said.
“Those 18 games are all Division II, all regional games and all challenging.”
The Clemente Center gym will welcome FIT’s first conference foe, Rollins, on Jan. 9. The Tars finished last season in fifth in conference play.
The Panthers will remain at home for two more games including a marquee matchup with Eckerd on Jan. 12. Eckerd ended last season just one game out of first place in the conference.
The month of February is filled with key conference matchups including a return visit to Eckerd on Feb. 9 and a trip to another top opponent in Florida Southern on Feb. 23. Saint Leo and Nova Southeastern will travel to Melbourne on Feb 16 and 27, respectively.
Very Young Squad
“We are one of the youngest basketball teams in America this year,” Mims said.
“Four starters are gone and we lost two of our top subs. So we bring in a lot of young kids. We have 15 kids on the roster this year and 12 of those kids are freshman or sophomores. That’s why I’m glad we have a tough buildup in November and December. We have all of those games to hopefully mature these young players and develop some chemistry.
“By the time we start conference play in January, the freshmen better not be freshmen any more. The sophomores better be playing like juniors. Because when we start Sunshine State Conference play, it’s going to be tough night in and night out.”
The season will close out with Senior Day in Melbourne on March 2 against Tampa. Four days later, the Florida Blue SSC Championship begins with a matchup of the No. 8 and No. 9 teams in the standings.
For the first time since 2001, the tournament will be hosted at a neutral facility, the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. It also marks the first time since 2007 that all nine member schools of the SSC will compete in the tournament. The championship game will be played on March 10.