Golden Eagles face NCAA tourney foes, early road stretch in Messer's debut

2009-2010 Schedule

Tech on the road 10 of first 13 contests in 2009-10;
Golden Eagles meet four NCAA Tourney teams

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --  A daunting challenge awaits Sytia Messer, Tennessee Tech’s new women’s basketball coach, as the Golden Eagles face a tough schedule in 2009-2010 including four NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, the always-tough Ohio Valley Conference 18-game slate, and nearly all of the first month on the road.

“This is a tough schedule, but we’re excited about it,” Messer said of the 30-game regular season slate. “Our kids are never going to back down from a challenge.”

The Golden Eagles’ schedule features 15 home games, beginning with an exhibition game on Nov. 5, but the team doesn’t get back to Eblen Center until Nov. 30. In between are a tournament in Corpus Christi, Tex., and road games at Baylor, Louisville and Middle Tennessee.

“We have a really tough stretch in November with Baylor, Louisville, Middle Tennessee, and the tournament,” Messer said. “We’ll have to be extremely determined and focused on the road all year, especially in the month of November.”

After hosting Tennessee Wesleyan in an exhibition game Nov. 5 in Eblen Center, Messer’s young squad opens the regular season Friday, Nov. 13, against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi tournament. Tech will face either the host team or Air Force on the second day.

From there, the Golden Eagles visit Baylor on Nov. 17, Louisville on Nov. 22, and Middle Tennessee State in Nov. 28. All three of those teams reached NCAA Tournament play last season, with Louisville advancing all the way to the championship game. Baylor was a No. 2 seed, UofL a No. 3 seed and MTSU a No. 8 seed.

“We have five games against teams that played last year in the NCAA Tournament,” Messer said. “The most grueling part of our schedule is the month of November, but it doesn’t let up all year.”
The regular season home opener is Monday night, Nov. 30, when Tech hosts Lipscomb at 8 p.m., a game with a late starting time to follow the annual Cookeville Christmas Parade.

“I’m really looking forward to Nov. 30, when we come home off the road and really have our first opportunity to play at home, and I get to make my coaching debut in front of Tech’s great fans,” Messer said.

The Ohio Valley Conference schedule opens with a trip to Jacksonville State on Dec. 5.
“The Ohio Valley Conference has a lot of tradition, and it’s not easy to play at any of the conference schools,” Messer said. “Murray State won the regular season. Austin Peay went to the NCAA. Tennessee State has the Coach of the Year leading them. Every one of the conference games is a tough game. There are no easy ones. It’s especially tough being on the road and not having our fan base with us.”

Five more non-conference games fill up the remainder of December, with road games at Drake and St. Louis, and home contests with Southern Illinois, Belmont and Bluefield.

Once the New Year arrives, Tech settles into a stretch of 16 consecutive OVC games. Six of those are home conference games in Eblen Center in January. The Golden Eagles host four more games in February, including a non-conference game against SIU-Edwardsville, a team that will join the league’s basketball race in a couple years. That comes on Feb. 23, with a visit from Jacksonville State on Feb. 27 to wrap up the regular season.

“It’s an honor to be in a great conference like the OVC because of the tradition,” Messer said. “I’m a fan of the game, so it will be fun to visit each of these schools and watch our team play, and to coach against these teams.”

The OVC Tournament is March 2-6, with the top eight teams playing in the first round and the four surviving squads advancing to the finals in Nashville.

Season tickets for Golden Eagle basketball are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or online at TTUsports.com, or by calling (931) 372-3940.