JMU will usher in a new season of hoops action with a pair of games at the Convocation Center on Friday, Nov. 14 as women’s basketball hosts UCLA at 1 p.m. while the men host Virginia at 7 p.m. It will be the first time that both teams open the season at home on the same date since Nov. 26, 1983.
“We’re very excited about UCLA coming into the Convocation Center to play us in our home opener,” Head Coach Kenny Brooks stated. “The Bruins are coming off of a season in which they had a lot of injuries, so they get those young ladies back and add the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, so it’s going to be a team that will have expectations to go far into the NCAA tournament. It is a great way to challenge ourselves at the start of our season. If you want to be one of the best teams in the country, you have to play the best and that’s what we strive to be. ”
JMU women’s basketball is 3-0 all-time against UCLA, including a 77-67 win against the Bruins last season in the quarterfinal round of the Gulf Coast Showcase. The Dukes went 29-6 overall and 15-1 in league play in 2013-14, winning both the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season and tournament titles. They won their first NCAA tournament game since 1991, defeating No. 6 Gonzaga 72-63 in the round of 64. JMU returns senior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) and junior guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School), 2014 All-CAA Second Team honorees, as well as redshirt junior guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty H.S.), a 2014 CAA All-Defensive Team honoree.
“The goal for our team in our non-conference schedule is to play against teams that will be participating in the NCAA tournament,” noted Matt Brady, head coach for men’s basketball. “By opening our season against Virginia, JMU will be playing perhaps the best team to visit the Convocation Center in 25 years. We believe that this caliber of game can be the catalyst for a new ‘Electric Zoo’ at the Convo.”
JMU’s men return two starters from last season in junior guards Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) and Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI). Nation led the team with 15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association Third Team, while Curry contributed 12.1 points per game and dished out a team-best 3.4 assists per outing. In six seasons with Brady at the helm, the Dukes have produced three 20-win seasons and three postseason appearances, including a trip to the 2013 NCAA Championship after capturing the CAA postseason crown. JMU is 0-9 all-time vs. Virginia, but the teams have met just twice since 1983 (2003) with the last Harrisonburg matchup in 1982. Virginia won last year’s opener in Charlottesville 61-41 before going on to win the ACC.
The games will be treated as separate admission events with the Convocation Center being cleared after the UCLA game to prepare for the 7 p.m. men’s game, which is expected to sell out. Both games will operate according to their separate reserved parking allocations, and fans must relocate their cars to the appropriate lots following the first game. The Duke Club will host hospitality for both games and the men’s game vs. Virginia will be a “Purple Out” with all fans encouraged to wear purple. Renewals and new sales for season tickets will be available beginning Sept. 1 and individual game tickets will be on sale Nov. 1. More specifics on ticketing, parking and promotional aspects will be available at a later date.