TOUGH TEAMS, ROAD IN FRONT OF ISLANDERS IN 2008-09

With eight non-conference games versus schools from major conferences and a 16-game Southland Conference schedule, the 2008-09 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team finds itself facing a challenging slate.

Six teams on the Islander schedule competed in the postseason a year ago. Georgia and UT Arlington both reached the NCAA Tournament after winning the Southeastern Conference and Southland Conference Tournaments respectively. Florida State and Stephen F. Austin both competed in the NIT. Tulsa won the first-ever College Basketball Invitational with Islander opponent Houston also in the field.

The Islanders will face teams from several of the top leagues in the country. They will take on teams from the Southeastern (Georgia), Big Ten (Illinois and Northwestern), Conference USA (Tulsa, Houston, and SMU), Big 12 (Oklahoma State) and Atlantic Coast Conferences (Florida State).

"Our schedule this season is extremely challenging," said Islander head coach Perry Clark, who is set to begin his second year at the helm. "Our schedule really picks up with the second game when we visit Illinois. We play teams from four or five of the biggest conferences in the country.

"With a team that is as young as ours, the schedule is challenging, but I really think it will help prepare us for the conference schedule down the road."

A&M-Corpus Christi will open the season against neighboring Texas A&M-Kingsville on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on Stripes Court at the American Bank Center. It will be the first regular-season meeting between the two sides.

From there the Islanders hit the road for five straight games including four games in the South Padre Invitational. They open the road trip with a pair of games in Illinois. TAMUCC will face Illinois in Champaign on Sunday, Nov 16 to start play in the Invitational. They will remain in the area to face a second-straight Big 10 school as they visit Northwestern that Wednesday at 7 p.m. before heading to Tulsa for their second game in the tournament on Nov. 23 at 3 p.m.

The Islanders return to the Lonestar State for the final two games of the South Padre Invitational on Nov. 28 and 29. They will face Jackson State that Friday at 2:30 before facing one of two teams from North Carolina – North Carolina Central or UNC Wilmington the following day.

A&M-Corpus Christi returns to the American Bank Center for three of its next four games. They host St. Edwards on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. before heading to Fort Worth for a game with TCU on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. The Islanders return to Stripes Court two days later to face Texas A&M-International on Monday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.

The home portion of the non-conference slate will be highlighted with a visit by Oklahoma State on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. It will be the second visit to the American Bank Center by the Big 12 program. When the Islanders and Cowboys met on Jan. 3, 2005, the two sides played before the largest home crowd in TAMUCC history with 8,431 fans in attendance.

"Although we don't have as many home games as we would like," said Clark. "The Oklahoma State game will give fans a chance to see a quality opponent at the American Bank Center."

Five straight road games for the Islanders will close out the team's non-conference schedule. Prior to Christmas, the team will head East for a pair of games as TAMUCC will visit Savannah State on Thursday, Dec. 18 and defending SEC Tournament Champion Georgia on Monday, Dec. 22. Both games will start at 6 p.m. local time.

The Islanders will finish out the calendar year at SMU on Wednesday, Dec. 31 with a 6 p.m. contest before heading to Florida State that Saturday for an afternoon tilt at 2 p.m. Non-conference play concludes with a visit to Houston to face the Cougars on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.

A&M-Corpus Christi will begin Southland Conference play with a pair of home games. On Saturday, Jan. 10, Central Arkansas comes to town for a 7 p.m. with Texas State coming to town the following Wednesday for a night game.

Five of the next seven SLC games find the Islanders hitting the road. They make the first of three conference trips to the state of Louisiana on Jan. 17 to visit Northwestern State at 2 p.m., before heading to Lamar that Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game at the Montagne Center.

A visit by rival UTSA is next on the schedule with the Roadrunners slated to visit Saturday, Jan. 24. A new date for the game is being worked on as the Shrine Circus is in town that weekend.

The Islanders will visit Sam Houston State at 7 p.m. the following Saturday, Jan. 31 before defending tournament champion UT Arlington comes to the American Bank Center on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.

After a Saturday trip to Nicholls State on Feb. 7 for an afternoon game at 3 p.m., TAMUCC heads to San Marcos to face Texas State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Four of the final seven games are at Stripes Court. The Bearkats visit A&M-Corpus Christi on Valentine's Day (Saturday, Feb. 14, 1 p.m.) before the Islanders make a return trip to San Antonio on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

McNeese State visits the Coastal Bend on Feb. 21 for an early afternoon game at 1 p.m. After visiting Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m., TAMUCC hosts SFA and Lamar for its final two home games of the season. The Lumberjacks visit Saturday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m. with the Cardinals in town on March 4 for a 7 p.m. contest. The regular season concludes on March 7 when the Islanders visit UT Arlington for a 4 p.m. clash.

The Southland Conference Tournament is slated to begin on Thursday, March 10 at the Merrell Center in Katy.

Season tickets are now available for the upcoming schedule call (361) 825-BALL (2255) for more information.