Basketball schedule finalized

TUSCALOOSA -- The University of Alabama has released its 2003-04 men's basketball schedule and it will be among the toughest any college basketball team will face this season.

Ten of the teams Alabama will play advanced to the 2003 NCAA tournament, including four in the Sweet 16, and another two teams played in the 2003 NIT Championships.

Alabama will travel to Lexington to play 2003 Elite 8 team Kentucky, hosts Sweet 16 team Wisconsin in Tuscaloosa on December 30, plays Sweet 16 team Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden and plays Sweet 16 team Auburn twice during the upcoming season.

Alabama's schedule includes two premier national events, the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Madison Square Garden where Alabama will play Pittsburgh on November 14 and the Las Vegas Showdown where it will play Oregon on December 20.

It's a schedule so attractive to television that four games will be carried on ESPN, two on ESPN2, one on CBS, five on FoxSportsNet, four on Jefferson-Pilot, three on Comcast Sports South and five more locally in Tuscaloosa on WVUA. In fact all but two of Alabama's regular season games are expected to be televised, road games at Georgia and South Carolina. "I think our schedule will be as difficult as anyone's in the country," said Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried who has taken Alabama to back to back NCAA appearances in 2002 and 2003. "It may be a schedule that challenges this team, which is replacing four starters, more than they are ready.

"It's also important to recognize that we're being invited to the top marquee national events for the third year in a row with our inclusion in the fields of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Las Vegas Showdown."

Alabama was invited to the prestigious Coaches vs. Cancer field last season as well and, in the past three years has been included in coveted national events like the Jimmy V. Classic, The John R. Wooden Classic, the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, the Guardians Classic and the Sugar Bowl Classic.

"We looked closely at the RPI of every team we have scheduled," said Gottfried who is in his sixth season as Alabama's coach in a tenure that has included a Southeastern Conference Championship in 2002 and four postseason tournament appearances. "We are playing a dozen teams that were in the NCAA or NIT tournaments last year. It's going to be a tremendous, tremendous challenge for our team."

Fans can get a couple of early glimpses at the Crimson Tide in action. On Saturday, November 1 at 6 p.m. Alabama will hold the Crimson & White game, an intra squad event. Fans in town for the October 25 Tennessee football game in Tuscaloosa can get the first peek at the Tide basketball team. It will hold its annual "Fan Jam" that day. The time has not been set as the football game time has not been set and the "Fan Jam" will be played either before or after the football game.

In addition to being treated to shootouts and dunks, Alabama fans can get their pictures made and the autographs of the 2002-03 Tide basketball team and coaches that day.

Tickets for Alabama's home basketball games may be purchased on line as the season gets closer through Alabama's official website, www.rolltide.com or by calling the ticket office at 205-348-BAMA.


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