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Thursday, June 21, 2007

UAB to Play @ Witchita State - Key RPI Game

From the Witchita Eagle

No headaches for WSU basketball

Hold the usual pain and suffering regarding Wichita State's men's basketball schedule.

It's done. It should be released this week. It went together quickly and somewhat painlessly, a contrast to recent seasons. Last season, WSU didn't add games with Syracuse and LSU until August. Former coach Mark Turgeon dreaded the challenges of mixing home games, good RPI games and road games into a worthy schedule.

"We're complete," coach Gregg Marshall said. "Maybe things just fell into place this year."

They certainly did. Home games against LSU and Wyoming were set in the Turgeon era. WSU travels to Appalachian State and UMKC. Baylor is the opening opponent in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

The newest addition is a game against Alabama-Birmingham in late December at Koch Arena.

Marshall said he could not comment on details of the schedule until it is released.

Scheduling didn't cause Marshall much stress for two reasons. One, associate athletic director Brian Pracht handled much of the work to free Marshall's time during the move to a new job. Second, WSU is a more attractive opponent than in past seasons.

"We're not coming off a Sweet 16 team," Marshall said. "Outside looking in, this would probably be a good time to play Wichita State."

An alliance proposed --Here's how smoothly things went for WSU: UAB is coming to Koch Arena without demanding a return game, according to Blazers athletic director Brian Mackin.

WSU will pay UAB to play at Koch Arena, a practice common for lower-profile opponents.

"We looked at this as an opportunity go on the road and play a good opponent," Mackin said. "We just happened to have this date open. (Coach) Mike (Davis) isn't afraid to go on the road and play anybody."

Mackin, who said he didn't know the amount of the guarantee, said he thinks Conference USA and Missouri Valley Conference schools should do more scheduling.

From his perspective, it is difficult to get an SEC or ACC team to do a home-and-home series. A Valley team, in most cases, will be open to an even series and offer a solid RPI benefit.

The Valley finished sixth in the conference RPI rankings, according to C-USA finished 11th. Six Valley schools ranked in the top 100 and no Valley team ranked lower than No. 139. C-USA had only two (Memphis, Houston) in the top 100 and three 200 or lower.

"There are RPI reasons to play this game," Mackin said. "You have to keep that in mind."

UAB might be the toughest guarantee game in the nation next season. The Blazers went 15-16 last season and are expected to improve dramatically in Davis' second season. They add three transfers, including Robert Vaden, who followed Davis from Indiana. One Internet site ranked UAB's recruiting class No. 9 in the nation.

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