Gardner Webb – Three kids left the program: Nate Blank (University of Indianapolis), Dillon Boggs and Roy Hinson II (Landry University). Rick Scruggs’ team will play non-conference games against North Carolina, Texas, Penn State, and Charlotte.
I think it’s safe to assume that this is a guarantee home game.
Gardner-Webb is coming off their first season in the Big South Conference. The Bulldogs have actually only been a D-1 program for 9 years. Coach Rick Scruggs has held his position for the last 14 seasons, so he has been the primary leader of Gardner-Webb’s growth as a program. After two seasons as an Independent, G-W spent 6 seasons as a member of the Atlantic Sun conference until they joined the Big South. Scruggs turned his program from a 5 game winner to an 18 game winner in the A-Sun, but it seems like he hasn’t been able to get the Bulldogs over the hump the last 5 years.
|08-09||Big South||13-17 (9-9)||218|
|07-08||Atlantic Sun||16-16 (9-7)||200|
|06-07||Atlantic Sun||9-21 (7-11)||265|
|05-06||Atlantic Sun||17-12 (13-6)||157|
|04-05||Atlantic Sun||18-12 (12-7)||156|
The Bulldogs’ recent history shows they really shouldn’t be an RPI plague next season. With numerous departures throughout the Big South (the Holmes twins at VMI, Seth Curry left Liberty, etc.), G-W appears on paper to be in position to contend in the league once again. They lose two key seniors from last year’s squad along with Blank, who was a major contributor. But they return 6 of their core 9 man rotation last season, while adding 6 players in their incoming recruiting class (3 JuCos and 3 prep players). The other two transfers mentioned by Goodman did not play much at all last season.
Obviously Gardner-Webb will not appeal to the casual PSU fan base, but I think this is a pretty good team to schedule as a guarantee game. They most likely won’t bolster PSU’s tourney resume next season, but if they finish with an RPI around 200 like their past history has shown, they won’t hurt us. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re playing UNC and Texas, as well. Yes this is nit-picking, but inheriting Texas’ and UNC’s records in our Opponents’ Opponents’ winning % is a good thing, regardless of how miniscule the overall effect is.
It also should be noted that Gardner-Webb could very well surprise us. This past season, they lost @ Virginia Tech by only 3 points in their season-opener and @ Oklahoma by just 4 points a week later. Two seasons ago, they went into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky in November. So they’ve played surprisingly well in the first weeks of the last 2 seasons. Hopefully this game is scheduled in December.
With the Charleston Classic providing us 3 games, PSU’s non-conference schedule will total 12 contests. As of right now, 7 games have been announced with 4 concrete opponents (@ Temple, @ Virginia, UPenn, Gardner-Webb). That leaves 5 remaining games (I would bet right now they’ll all be at home). My gut feeling after reading some quotes from DeChellis in May tells me that the negotiations with Va Tech on a Home-and-Home were finalized, and they will be our marquee home opponent this season (this hasn’t been announced). If that is the case, I really like how our schedule is shaping up. The Charleston Classic is comprised of competitive teams that could beef up our resume (especially South Carolina with Downey returning). We have two good road contests with Temple and Virginia, both winnable games. If Va Tech is indeed scheduled and we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with the remaining home games, I really think our schedule could be top 100 in terms of SOS. At the very least, it will be much improved over last year’s travesty and it will probably be DeChellis’ toughest in his 7 years here.