Spartanburg, S.C. – Spartan fans will get their first look at the renovated G.B. Hodge Center on Nov. 29 when USC Upstate plays host to UNC Asheville, and will renew its rivalry with in-city foe Wofford at the Charleston Classic as head coach Eddie Payne announced the 2010-11 Upstate men's basketball schedule Monday.
Work continues on the renovations to the Hodge Center, a project made possible by the generous $4 million gift from Mrs. Dodie Anderson, a 1981 graduate of Upstate. Progress on the renovations can be viewed via the official website of Upstate Athletics at www.upstatespartans.com where weekly pictures are added to the Hodge Renovations section of the site. Despite opening the new Hodge Center on Nov. 29 against UNC Asheville, the Spartans will officially dedicate the arena on Dec. 5 against A-Sun rival East Tennessee State.
Upstate is one of eight teams participating in the Charleston Classic, a tournament owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television. It marks Upstate's first appearance in a tournament owned and operated by ESPN. The tournament will be played at the Carolina First Arena Nov. 18-21 on the campus of the College of Charleston. The field consists of Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, George Mason, Georgetown, N.C. State, Upstate and Wofford. The Spartans open the tournament against Wofford on Nov. 18 and will play either Georgetown or Coastal Carolina on Nov. 19. Upstate's third game of the tournament will be determined based on the results of other games in the bracket. The two semifinal games of the winner's bracket will be broadcast on ESPNU, while the the championship games of the winner's and consolation brackets will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, Nov. 21.
Four of the teams in the Charleston Classic advanced to postseason play a year ago with Georgetown and Wofford participating in the NCAA Tournament, N.C. State playing in the NIT and George Mason playing in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Upstate will face Wofford for the first time since 1988, a span of 22 years. Rivals when both schools were members of NAIA District Six, the teams last played on Jan. 25, 1988 in the Benjamin Johnson Arena at Wofford. The Terriers took a 52-49 win over the Spartans, though Upstate owns a 15-7 lead in the all-time series.
Upstate will make its fourth appearance in an early season exempt tournament since joining Division I in 2007. The Spartans traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska, to play in the BP Top of the World Classic and to El Paso, Texas, to play in the State Farm Sun Bowl Classic in 2007-08, and played in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic in 2008-09. Upstate did not play in a tournament last season.
Upstate will play a 20-game A-Sun slate and will continue its theme of playing a demanding non-conference schedule against some of the top programs in all of Division I basketball. The Spartans played the 16th-toughest non-conference schedule a year ago. This year's schedule features seven teams which advanced into postseason play last year with ETSU representing the A-Sun in the NCAA Tournament along with Georgetown and Wofford, while N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Jacksonville earned spots in the postseason NIT, and George Mason advanced into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Upstate will open the season with a two-game road swing, playing at Michigan on Nov. 13 and at Virginia on Nov. 15. The game at Michigan will air on ESPN3, the network's online broadcast station through ESPN.com. Upstate will also visit South Carolina for the second time in three years, N.C. State, Auburn and Virginia Tech in addition to its three-game appearance in the Charleston Classic. The Spartans will play host to UNC Asheville in non-conference action in the Hodge Center.
Upstate will open A-Sun play at home on Dec. 5 against reigning conference tournament champion East Tennessee State. The game will mark the official dedication of the newly renovated Hodge Center and will honor the tremendous support of Mrs. Anderson to the University, Athletics Department and basketball program. The Spartans will also face Campbell in a home A-Sun game prior to the holiday break on Dec. 16. Upstate opens its conference road schedule at Kennesaw State on Jan. 3. The Spartans will be featured in the A-Sun Game of the Week on CSS when it travels to DeLand, Fla., to take on Stetson on Feb. 4. It marks the second time in four seasons that Upstate will have been featured in the Game of the Week against Stetson in the Edmunds Center.
"With 10 new, young and inexperienced players, the schedule is going to be tremendously challenging," said Payne. "Along with our difficult A-Sun schedule, we have teams from the ACC, SEC and Big Ten on our non-conference schedule. It will test our young people in ways they have not experienced thus far in their careers. Given time, the tough schedule will help us. We just need to get through it. The schedule will test our players' toughness and we hope to use it to improve our team."
Upstate will play its fourth year on the Division I level and as members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Spartans are in their final year of provisional status and will be eligible for postseason play next year. Upstate returns four players who saw time on the court and another who was a redshirt.
Seniors Mezie Uzochukwu and Josh Chavis will provide key leadership. They have been in the starting lineup since their freshman campaign in 2007-08. Uzochukwu, from Greensboro, N.C., was the second-leading scorer and rebounder on the team last year, averaging 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Chavis, also from Greensboro, averaged 7.9 points per outing and led the Spartans with 90 assists and 53 three-pointers. Junior Carter Cook, from Clemmons, N.C., turned in a solid sophomore season in 2009-10, averaging 6.8 points and 3.4 rebounds while hitting 37.3 percent of his three-point attempts. Chalmers Rogers, a junior from Fort Mill, S.C., was solid as a role player and back-up in the post. Ricardo Glenn, from North Augusta, S.C., sat out last year and will be a redshirt freshman this season.