DEMOREST -- Piedmont College men's basketball coach Greg Neeley released the Lions' 2013-14 schedule on Wednesday.
The road ahead for Piedmont includes several nationally feared foes as well as the Lions' first taste of USA South Athletic Conference action beginning Jan. 10 with a road test at William Peace.
Piedmont opens 2013-14 with an exhibition at Kennesaw State University, a member of NCAA Division I, for the second straight year after visiting the Owls to begin 2012-13. KSU is led by third-year Head Coach Lewis Preston who spent the three seasons previous at Penn State while also serving two years as an assistant to Billy Donovan at the University of Florida and owning six seasons on the bench of Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey's staff. With Brey, Preston was a part of the Irish's run to the Sweet 16 in 2002-03 before joining Donovan to be a part of the Gators' second of back-to-back National Championships.
Following that exhibition, Neeley takes his Lions up to Marietta, Ohio, site of the Shrine Tournament hosted by Marietta College where Piedmont opens tourney play with Earlham College, the first Division III opponent on the slate and first regular season game. Piedmont will then take on either Marietta or Ohio Christian the following day depending on the results of the tourney's first two games.
Three days later, Piedmont renews its series with local foe Toccoa Falls College, as the Eagles make the short trek over on Nov. 19 for an 8 p.m. start in the Cave representing Piedmont's home opener for the 2013-14 season. After not facing each other in 2012-13, the two northeast Georgia rivals play the first of two season meetings with the November contest. The two split a pair of regular season meetings in 2011-12 with each winning at home as Piedmont rolled to a 107-59 result on Nov. 22, 2011 before falling to the Eagles in Toccoa by three less than two months later.
Facing three more Georgia opponents in as many games following the Toccoa game, the schedule starts to bulk up with two of three Piedmont opponents representing nationally respected competition. Both Transylvania and Emory were receiving votes in the final D3hoops.com poll of the 2012-13 season, and both will see Piedmont come to its home gym in 2013-14. Transylvania hosts the Lions in the first of two tournament games at the Kentucky school with Piedmont participating in the Don Lane Classic just before the Christmas break. Upon returning from the holidays, Piedmont then turns around for a Jan. 3 contest at Emory University in Atlanta, a team that took a 109-70 decision from the green and gold just one season ago.
On Jan. 7, Piedmont hosts just its third home game of the season when Sewanee comes to town for the second-to-last non-conference game for the Lions on the season. Three days later, PC officially plays its first-ever USA South contest traveling to William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina after the Pacers added men's basketball to its list of intercollegiate offerings in 2012-13.
Getting into the heart of its conference schedule over the next few weeks, three of Piedmont's next four opponents sported winning records in 2012-13 though PC does get two of those three at home. Both NC Wesleyan and Ferrum visit the Cave as the two each tabbed winning seasons last year. NC Wesleyan is the Lions' first official USA South game at home in front of the Cave Crazies with the Bishops coming to Demorest on January 12th.
In conference play, Piedmont will play three weekends of back-to-back basketball traveling to play Methodist and Greensboro on Jan. 18 and 19, respectively, Covenant and Maryville on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, respectively, and LaGrange and Covenant on Feb. 15 and 16, respectively. Including Averett University, which visits the Cave on Jan. 26 of 2014, the remaining home games on the 2013-14 Piedmont men's basketball schedule are Piedmont's four former conference mates from its days in the Great South -- LaGrange, Covenant, Huntingdon, and Maryville all return to the campus in Demorest as conference opponents following a year of conference transition for all five schools as Covenant and Huntingdon represent the newest USA South members.
The regular season is wrapped up by what's sure to be a highly anticipated second of two season matchups with local rival Toccoa Falls as Piedmont repays the home-home visit on Feb. 22. The Lions are looking to avenge a three-point loss from 2012, a game in which Piedmont never trailed by more than seven.
The USA South Conference Tournament Championship is set to take place over a three-day period from Feb. 27 to March 1 at the home court of the regular season champion. Eight teams will make the championship field and 2013-14 will for sure see a new champion crowned as 2012-13 title holder Christopher Newport departs the league this season.
Piedmont Head Coach Greg Neeley embarks on his first season leading the Lions this year after coming back to the school where he served as an assistant for three campaigns under then-Head Coach Lee Glenn. Neeley is fresh off winning a USCAA National Championship as the Head Coach at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina and brings a bevy of experience to a young program hungry for success.