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Basketball schedule out of conference proves tough

Robert McCullum’s first season as the USF men’s basketball coach won’t be easy. The Bulls’ 2003-04 non-conference schedule, released Wednesday, features five teams that played in the 2003 postseason.

“I think it is a very challenging schedule, and we intend to play a challenging schedule each year,” McCullum said in a news release.

Dates at Michigan State on Dec. 10 and Colorado State on Dec. 22 put the Bulls against teams that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2003.

Along with NCAA Tournament teams, the Bulls will also face NIT teams Providence, Dec. 2 at Rhode Island, Richmond at USF on Dec. 6, and will make the trip to Valparaiso on Nov. 25.

“We have Richmond and Colorado State coming here, and they are two teams that perhaps our fans won’t be quite as familiar with,” McCullum said. “But Colorado State has a good basketball program and they play in a good league, the Mountain West, and won the league tournament last season. Richmond is always very competitive in the Atlantic 10, and coach Jerry Wainwright is going into his second year there after building an outstanding program at UNC Wilmington. Those are two very good non-conference opponents that will be coming to the Sun Dome.”

A team that USF fans will be familiar with is Michigan State, whom the Bulls lost to on the road last season 65-56.

“There are several opponents that we play on the road that we would like to have had here but it’s not that way this year,” McCullum said.

The Bulls also announced their schedule for the USF Holiday Classic. In the opening round, the Bulls will face UNC Greensboro and Texas Arlington on Dec. 29. The Bulls non-conference schedule, coupled with its Conference-USA schedule, possibly pitting them against teams such as Cincinnati and Memphis, will give McCullum a healthy challenge during his first season in Tampa.

“On the other hand, Conference-USA has several parameters. Scheduling-wise, they want each conference member to meet and we’ve certainly done that,” McCullum said.