CHARLOTTE — The Big South Conference has released its 2016-2017 men's basketball schedule, which features a full 18-game round robin format for the first time since the 2010-2011 season announced League officials Thursday. The 90-game slate will span nine weeks beginning Thursday, December 29.
Gardner-Webb enters the 2016-2017 campaign with high hopes, as the Runnin' Bulldogs return a deep and talented roster led by senior forward and 2016 Big South All-Conference Second Team selection Tyrell Nelson (Charlotte, N.C.). The Runnin' Bulldogs compiled a 17-16 overall record, and advanced to the Big South Tournament semifinals for the third time in the last four years last season.
Nelson and the Runnin' Bulldogs will open Big South play in the friendly confines of Paul Porter Arena on December 29 against defending regular season co-champion High Point, before making the short trek to Asheville on New Years Eve to take on defending Big South Tournament champion UNC Asheville. A January 4 road trip to Radford will precede a pair of home contests against Charleston Southern (January 7) and Campbell (January 11), followed by back-to-back away tilts at Longwood (January 14) and Liberty (January 19).
The Runnin' Bulldogs will then host Presbyterian on January 21 and Winthrop on January 26 ahead of a two-game swing at Charleston Southern (January 28) and Campbell (February 1). A two-game home stand will follow with Longwood and Liberty coming to Paul Porter Arena on February 4 and February 9, respectively, before Gardner-Webb makes the short trip to Rock Hill, South Carolina to battle Winthrop on February 11.
Radford comes to Paul Porter Arena on February 15 ahead of Gardner-Webb's quick trek to Presbyterian on February 18. The Runnin' Bulldogs will close out their home slate with a February 23 matchup against UNC Asheville, before finishing the regular season on the road at High Point on February 25.
Returning alongside Nelson are junior center L'Hassane Niangane (Chalon, France), redshirt junior guard Jamaal Robateau (Queensland, New South Wales, Australia) and sophomore point guard Laquincy Rideau (West Palm Beach, Fla.) - all of whom are expected to step into significant on-court roles this season.
Redshirt sophomores Brandon Miller (Orlando, Fla.) and David Efianayi (Orlando, Fla.) will both be called upon to play extended minutes as well, while sophomore forward DJ Laster (Pensacola, Fla.) hopes to play his way into a key role inside. Sophomore guards Justin Jenkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Eric Jamison (East Point, Ga.) are expected to provide a significant boost as well in their first season on the court for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Highly touted guard Christian Turner (Atlanta, Ga.) headlines an exciting recruiting class that also features 6-foot-7 freshman forward Patrick Zeck (Atlanta, Ga.), junior transfer Liam O'Reilly (Austin, Texas), and freshman guard Nate Johnson (Hollywood, Fla.).
Gardner-Webb opens the 2016-2017 season on Friday, November 11 in Dallas, Texas against Southern Methodist University as part of the 22nd annual 2K Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.