2012 Season Preview – Part 1

There are people who look at a glass as half-empty, and people who look at the glass as half-full.  The half-empty people will tell you that UNC Asheville Men’s Basketball ended their season by losing to a #1 seed after going cold in the second half against one of the best defenses in college basketball.  The half-full people will tell you that UNC Asheville almost became the first 16 seed in history to beat a number 1 seed, went to back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history, set a school record for season wins, won the Big South regular season and tournament titles for the first time in school history, and graduated six seniors in four years.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m a glass-half full person.

It will, however, surprise some that Asheville has a solid chance to return to the NCAA tournament this year.  I’ll get to that over the course of the next month, but I wanted to start with a recap of what’s been happening this summer as well as offer a preview of where UNCAFanBlog will head in the 12-13 season.

  • After a few months of hints and clues from coaching staff and other schools’ schedules, Asheville announced the 2012-2013 schedule on Friday.  Highlights:
  • The Bulldogs will open the season at home against Western Carolina, a game which has rightfully moved to a prominent position on both team’s schedules rather than occurring during the middle of winter break when students and fans are out of town and/or focused on the holidays.  Asheville and WCU already have what passes for a rivalry, and this should be amplified with more student and local media attention.
  • For the second year in a row, the Asheville Bulldogs will be participating in an invitational tournament.  This year, the tournament is the Puerto Rico invitational, a step up from the Battle 4 Atlantis which will feature N.C. State, Tennessee, and five other schools (mostly from major conferences).  Asheville will play three games in Puerto Rico before playing State in Raleigh on the 23rd.
  • In an epic three-game roadtrip, Asheville will play Ohio State, Northeastern, and St. John’s during winter break.
  • Due to the new divisions in the Big South, Asheville will only play teams from the “Northern” division once, while playing teams from the “southern” division twice.  This could either be viewed as a positive or a negative, since the best teams in the conference (historically and recently) are in this division.  It’ll make for a fun January/February, no doubt.
  • Finally, the Big South moved to a “neutral site” home court, with Coastal Carolina hosting the tournament for the next three years.  This amounts to giving a team home-court advantage and is a highly questionable decision.  No doubt the influence of the Myrtle Beach visitors bureau and sponsorship money had a lot to do with it.  While Coastal has a new arena, it pales in comparison to Kimmel or any of the other proposed sites (Asheville, Rock Hill, Winston Salem).  It’s nice to be able to book travel more than one week in advance, but it gives one team a massive advantage over the other teams and shows poor judgment on the part of Big South Conference leadership.  I also really don’t like Myrtle Beach.
  • The Athletics Department, trying to build a brand after a tough start to the year (remember Kimmelgate?) went on a roadshow of sorts with the Coaches Caravan, making stops in WNC as well as Durham and Charlotte.  Credit where credit’s due: this was a great idea by the Athletics and Alumni departments to get students, fans, and alumni excited for the upcoming season.

Now, some home news.  Last season, this blog focused primarily on game previews and recaps, as well as serving as a link repository for media coverage of the team.  This year, we’re going to do that (on a more reliable basis) and also include additional features such as interviews with players and coaches, podcasts, and more live-tweeting of games.  Looking forward to a new season and a new(ish) team.