Two trips to New York City, a couple days in Mexico and plenty of nights sleeping in their own beds are the highlights of the USC mens basketball team schedule, released on Wednesday.
The Gamecocks will open their first season under head coach Frank Martin with an exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan on Oct. 30. The regular season will begin with a home date against Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a part of the Hoops for Hope Classic on Nov. 11.
USC also will play Rider on Nov. 19 as a part of the classic before heading to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Nov. 24-25 to play Missouri State then either SMU or Arkansas-Little Rock.
The Gamecocks will see the Big Apple for the first time on Nov. 29 when they travel to St. Johns as a part of the SEC/Big East challenge. They will return on Dec. 22 to play Manhattan in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational.
There also will be plenty of in-state home cooking with Colonial Life Arena dates against Clemson (Dec. 2), Presbyterian (Dec. 29) and S.C. State (Jan. 5).
The schedule was delayed for some time by a game date that caused a ripple effect down the schedules of many teams. While USC was fine with the date, the other team had to move games around on its schedule to accommodate.
Scheduling is a lot more difficult than some people think, Martin said. You have certain events you cannot move, so you have to eat it. And then you have other games where you have flexibility to move the date. The problem is that its not just your schedule thats impacted, its the schedule of the team youre playing, which impacts the schedule of the team that team was playing, and so on.
When it comes to putting together a schedule, Martin said his chief priorities are increasing his programs national exposure, expanding his recruiting base and rewarding his players and their families.
Pretty much when we travel in the non-conference it will be to take a kid home or get on national television, Martin said. If you can get on national television, you travel to play the game.
While the trip to St. Johns is league-mandated, the return trip to New York City to play Manhattan was a bonus opportunity to expose the program to a rich recruiting ground that traditionally has funneled players to Columbia.
At Kansas State, we had the opportunity one year to play the Jimmy V in New York. That was a home run for us because we got on national television, but it also was an area we wanted to recruit.
While at Kansas State, Martin scheduled games in Cincinnati, Chicago and Washington, D.C., to take players home.
If youve got a kid on your roster that is not from SEC country, you have a duty to take that young man home to play during his time on your campus, Martin said. If were not taking a kid home and its not on television, then were probably not playing the game away from our arena.
The SEC portion of the slate will begin Jan. 9 at Mississippi State. The Gamecocks make their home SEC debut on Jan. 12 vs. Auburn.