When one thinks of the Atlantic Sun conference, the teams that come to mind are likely Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida, and rightfully so. The Eagles and Ospreys have been the top teams in the conference over the last few years, but don’t forget about the other teams and players in the conference.
The Stetson Hatters haven’t enjoyed much success over the past few years, including a 2014-15 season that saw them come away with just 9 victories. Despite their sub-.500 finish, they have talented players in place to compete in the future.
Stetson released their 2015-16 schedule a few weeks back, and it’s filled with intriguing non-conference affairs right from the outset. For the young and talented Hatters, they face a tall order in 2015-16, but playing in tough games will only help their development and confidence moving forwards.
Below, we take a look at all 16 non-conference games on tap for the 2015-16 edition of the Stetson Hatters, complete with game times, location, and game notes.
Sunday, November 15th: @ Richmond (5:00pm, Richmond, VA)
The Hatters kick off their season with a tough road game against one of the Atlantic 10’s better teams, the Richmond Spiders. The Spiders won’t be as strong as they were a season ago, as they are without star guard Kendall Anthony (graduation) and Alonzo Nelson-Ododa. However, T.J. Cline, Terry Allen, and company will return a talent-packed roster that will be a tough test out of the gate for the younger Hatters. This game will be crucial for the Hatters to get off on the right foot, as the likes of Divine Myles and Angel Rivera open up their second season, and they sort out just who will man the paint in the middle.
Tuesday, November 17th: @ The Citadel (6:00pm, Charleston, SC)
The season opening road trip continues, as the Hatters pay a visit to The Citadel Bulldogs in their second game of the season. Now, the Bulldogs aren’t as strong as the Spiders, which means Stetson could come away with their first victory of the season. The Bulldogs will be relying on the likes of graduate players like P.J. Boutte and Derrick Henry, alongside returnees like Brian White, as they look to build off their 11-win season a year ago. The back court battle between Boutte and Myles/Rivera should be exciting to watch.
Friday, November 20th: @ West Virginia (7:00pm, Morgantown, WV)
The third game of the season-opening three game toad swing will be the toughest for the Hatters. Travelling to Morgantown to take on Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers is a tall task for any team, let alone a rebuilding mid-major looking to bounce back after an off year. Seniors Jonathan Holton and Jaysean Paige will look to lead the charge for the Mountaineers in what will be a tough game for the Hatters to come away victorious.
Monday, November 23rd: v. Fort Valley State (8:00pm, Deland, FL)
The 23rd of November marks the home opener for the Hatters inside the Edmunds Center, and could also lead to their first win of the year. The Hatters take on Fort Valley State, whom reside in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Last season, the Wildcats lost all three of their games against Division I opponents, and only won four game all season. Barring a letdown, the Hatters should come away victorious in front of their home crowd.
Thursday, November 26th: v. Bethune-Cookman (9:00pm, Las Vegas)
The Hatters travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to take part in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, and draw in-state rival Bethune-Cookman in their opener in Sin City. Last season, the Hatters knocked off the Wildcats on the road, 77 – 72, giving them two straight wins in the head-to-head battles over the last five seasons. This game will be the first of two meeting between the schools on the year, meaning bragging rights and pride are on the line in the opener. The result of the game will determine who the Hatters play in the second game the next night.
Friday, November 27th: TBD (Time TBD, Las Vegas)
Depending on the result in Thursday night’s game, the Hatters will either take on the East Carolina Pirates or the Sam Houston State Bearkats. Neither the Pirates or Bearkats will be easy contests for the Hatters, so pick your poison if you’re a Stetson fan. The Bearkats are arguably the best team in the Southland Conference not named Stephen F. Austin, and East Carolina is battle-tested after playing in the American Athletic Conference. Both games would provide the Hatters with the opportunity to pull off an upset and build some momentum as the calendar moves towards December and the start of conference play.
Monday, November 30th: @ Florida Int’l (7:00pm, Miami, FL)
After their trip to Las Vegas, the Hatters stay on the road to take on the Florida International Golden Panthers. The Panthers are led by big man Adrian Diaz, who is likely one of the better mid-major players who you have never heard of. Take a moment, look him up, and be prepared for what he brings to the table. The Golden Panthers will focus on his experience in the paint, and try to take advantage of less experienced bigs for the Hatters, making things tough for Stetson on the road. It’ll be interesting to see how the likes of Kevin Ndahiro and others have developed since the start of the season, and see how they hold up against the experience and talent of Diaz
Wednesday, December 2nd: v. UCF (8:00pm, Deland, FL)
Stetson’s second home game of the season is against another in-state rival, this time being the Central Florida Knights. Equipped with big men like 6’10” Justin McBride and 7’6” Tacko Fall, and guards like Adonys Henriquez and company, the Knights will be a tall order for Stetson for the second game in a row (no pun intended on the “tall” order…). The forwards of Stetson will be thrown to the fire once again, and will be looked upon to hold their own inside while the guards go to work on the outside.
Saturday, December 5th: @ Tennessee State (3:00pm, Nashville, TN)
December 5th marks the start of a home-and-home series between the Hatters and the Tennessee State Tigers. This is the perfect opportunity for the Hatters to claim two much-needed victories, as the Tigers aren’t one of the NCAA’s strongest teams. Last season, Stetson only scored three non-conference wins against Division I opponents, and two came against the same team (Florida A&M). The Hatters can score two wins against the same team in the span of 10 days if they can bring their A-game against the Tigers in the Music City.
Monday, December 14th: v. Tennessee State (7:00pm, Deland, FL)
The back end of the home-and-home series with the Tigers will be played on the Hatters’ home floor, and that could be a blessing. If Stetson were to lose the front half, they would have home-court advantage as they look for a split. Or, it could give them the boost they need to come away with a two-game sweep.
Saturday, December 19th: @ IPFW (1:00pm, Fort Wayne, IN)
The Hatters embark on a mini two-game road swing before a break for Christmas, and the first contest is against a perennial Summit League contender in the IPFW Mastodons. Led by Mo Evans and Max Landis, the Mastodons return a roster full of experience and talent, as they have 10 upperclassmen on their squad. Stetson will be battle-tested from their tough start to the season, and could make this a close game or even score the upset victory.
Tuesday, December 22nd: @ Georgia Southern (Time TBD, Statesboro, GA)
The road doesn’t get any easier for Stetson as they enter the Christmas break, as they have to deal with the Georgia Southern Eagles in their next bout. The Eagles were one of the top teams in the Sun Belt last year, and will look to contend once again. With the likes of Devonte Boykins returning, and DeVince Boykins transferring from Marshall, the Eagles will have a duo of experienced players to lead their insurgence of youth in 2015-16. Stetson will have another great opportunity to score a big road win, if they can capitalize on the overall level of inexperience of the Eagles.
Wednesday, December 30th: v. Florida Tech (1:00pm, Deland, FL)
Back on their home floor to close out 2015, the Hatters take on their second of three non-Division I opponents in non-conference action when they welcome Florida Tech to town. Stetson should be able to come away with an easy victory in this contest, barring any major letdown. This is the first of two straight relatively easy contests for Stetson before they embark on their trek through Atlantic Sun action, meaning they should gain some much-needed momentum.
Saturday, January 2nd: v. Webber Int’l (1:00pm, Deland, FL)
The third and final non-Division I opponent for the Hatters is Webber International, and the two teams face off to open up the 2016 calendar year. Stetson will have a great opportunity, as mentioned above, to gain some much-needed momentum in this game as they push towards the grind of conference play. If they can avoid a letdown by looking ahead to their match-up against North Florida on the 6th of January, the Hatters should come away with the victory with relative ease.
Wednesday, January 27th: @ Marquette (9:00pm, Milwaukee, WI)
As if the daily grind of conference play wasn’t tough enough, the Hatters have to go on the road to play a mid-week game against one of the Big East’s top teams, the Marquette Golden Eagles. The game is the third on a five-game road swing that sees the Hatters away from the familiar grounds of the Edmunds Center for close to three weeks. Stetson will look to hang tough with the Golden Eagles in this one, but that will be a tall order considering the talent the Eagles have this season. Steve Wojciechowski will benefit from having the likes of Jajuan Johnson, Duane Wilson, and Luke Fischer return, along with the duo of Henry and Wally Ellenson on the squad. Playing a team like Marquette in the middle of conference play would be tough for any team, let alone in the midst of a lengthy road trip.
Monday, February 22nd: v. Bethune-Cookman (8:00pm, Deland, FL)
To close out non-conference action, the Stetson Hatters take on their in-state rivals for the second time on the year when they welcome the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats to the Edmunds Center. In this contest, the Hatters will either be looking for redemption or a season sweep over the Wildcats. The teams squared off in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic back in November, and both teams will be looking for another impressive showing in this one. This one marks the second-last regular season contest for the Hatters, and they will be looking for positive momentum as they make their way towards the Atlantic Sun tournament. Plus, a win over your in-state rival is always a good thing. (separated by a 30-minute drive down the highway).