Saturday, September 14, 2013

JMU in three-game tourney in Florida over Thanksgiving

If you're like us, you're eagerly awaiting the release of James Madison's schedule.

But we get an early glimpse with this news: the Dukes will be one of eight teams participating in the Gulf Case Showcase over Thanksgiving. All games will be played at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla, the southwest part of the state. The games are Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and JMU, a WNIT quarterfinalist last season with a 25-11 record, will play three of them.

The field is an  impressive one with UCLA, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, NC State, Wright State, Grand Canyon (love the Antelopes nickname), Southland and JMU. The Dukes open the tournament against UCLA with the winner of that game meeting either Mississippi State or Grand Canyon.  In case you're wondering, why no Florida Gulf Coast, the Eagles were already committed to the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Mexico during those dates. (A men's tournament at the same site in Estero includes Louisiana Tech and UNC Greensboro.)

Some notes on the others: the Antelopes are in their first season in Division I, while the marquee name in the field is UCLA, which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament behind a 26-8 mark. The Bruins return two starters, including leading scorer Atonye Nyingifa.

We expect a great year from JMU, which returns four starters led by senior Kirby Burkholder (15 ppg, 9.1 rpg). Toia, Precious, Jazmon and a healthy Nikki Newman should make the Dukes the team to beat in the CAA and possibly the tournament champion in this field.

So while we're anticipating the release of the schedule, this news, along with hosting Virginia on Nov. 8 -- gives JMU fans something to feast on until the full deal is revealed.

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