Samford University men's basketball coach Jimmy Tillette released his 1999-2000 schedule on Wednesday, which features a rematch against St. John's University in the season-opener and the first contest against Alabama in more than 30 years.
Samford, which finished 24-6 and captured its first-ever Trans America Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championship last season, will play the Red Storm in the first round of the CoSIDA Classic on Nov. 19 in Albuquerque, N.M. The Bulldogs ended their season with a 69-43 defeat to the Red Storm in the first round of the NCAA South Regional in Orlando, Fla., last March.
"On a positive note, it should allow us to be more focused on our preparation this fall," Tillette said. "The negative thing about it is that they're (St. John's) our first opponent."
The Bulldogs will face Alabama at Coleman Coliseum on Dec. 2. The last meeting between the schools was on Dec. 30, 1968, when Alabama defeated Samford, 87-64, in Birmingham.
Also on the schedule will be a trip to NIT participant Wyoming, a possible date against Iowa State in the Iowa State Tournament in December, and non-conference home dates against Northeast Louisiana, Texas-Arlington and North Georgia. The Bulldogs open their home schedule against NLU on Nov. 23 in a 7 p.m. game at Seibert Hall.
Samford, which finished 15-1 in the TAAC last season, opens league play at Jacksonville (Fla.) University on Dec. 4, before hosting Campbell on Dec. 6. Samford will play a home-and-home schedule against the other nine members in the TAAC for the first time since the 1993-94 season. The 2000 TAAC Championship is scheduled for March 2-4 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Bulldogs return all five starters, including TAAC Player-of-the-Year Reed Rawlings, and 11 letterwinners. Samford's lineup should also be bolstered by the additions of a solid recruiting class, and junior Derrick Jones who will be eligible at the beginning of the season after transferring from Mississippi State.
"We have a chance to be a pretty decent team," Tillette said. "I don't think, however, we'll be overlooked this year."