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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 10:00 pm

Coffman talks IPFW men's basketball schedule

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

IPFW's Jon Coffman's excitement for the upcoming men's basketball season was emphasized with Tuesday's release of the program's 2017-18 schedule.

Here's what he had to say about key points of the schedule:

Coffman on the Adolph Rupp Classic (Delaware State, at UIC, at Kentucky, at East Tennessee State): "I love tournament settings because sometimes you're able to schedule some games that you wouldn't otherwise schedule. I'm not saying that's the only way to schedule Kentucky. That was the way we were able to get IU at home last year and, again, that's a big opportunity to get at Rupp Arena. To ability to play at IU and at Kentucky, what an experience.

"They're both going to test us at the nth degree. Kentucky, year in and year out, seems to figure out a way to take the No. 1 recruiting class in the country and have an elite team out there. They have five McDonald's All-Americans in this year's recruiting class. We're going into a challenging arena and environment with our guys."

On the IU game at Assembly Hall (Dec. 18): "I'm not sure that we can schedule a tougher game. The fact that you don't think those guys are anxious to get that game behind them and to come after us. They're going to want to beat us by 40.

"They're sick of people talking about the loss and they're sick of Purdue fans talking about the loss. They're going to be anxious to suit up again. I think our guys are anxious for that challenge, as well. We have Indiana guys on the roster, as well, they're going to be excited.

"For our program, pushing it up a year will be an opportunity for us to get a little bit of rehash while it's still relevant in the media. I would be surprised if we get some really good TV coverage with a year after we had that upset, being one of the biggest upsets in college basketball."

On losing IUPUI: "That's been a great rivalry for us. Fans come out for that game. They've all been competitive. We beat them pretty good at Gates but it's been competitive over the course of the series. I love playing the mid-major games in our state. I love the Valpo series, CIT game against BSU, IUPUI. I want to create the most competitive schedule that's attractive to our fan base. I think IUPUI is an exciting game.

"We have six Division I games in non-league that are within 3 1/2 hours which are really good games. UIC, Oakland, Akron this year. Games that are going to challenge us and our fanbase can get on the road and see us play against the best in our region. That's a game (IUPUI) I'm going to aggressively go after to add to our non-conference game."

On the New Orleans Classic (Dec. 21-22): "We were able to track Liberty through the CIT. There were chances we were going to match-up with them in the CIT. They built a really successful program. We know about them. The head coach at Louisiana Tech is a close friend of mine. I know about their program. I was anxious to maybe face off with them at the New Orleans Classic.

"A lot of our guys haven't seen New Orleans. That's exciting, too. Go to a different region, educate your guys, New Orleans has some great history, some great ethnic history and some history of Katrina which we'll get to talk to our guys and give back and talk a little history. It's something that's relevant with Houston."

On 10 games at the Coliseum: "It doesn't happen overnight with the Coliseum. They book years out so that's our goal. It's tricky scheduling there. I love both facilities and I think the Coliseum is a Division I-caliber place. A lot of tradition. How can you not love playing in a place with NBA finals, NBA All-Star, Mad Ants, high school games, the opportunity to play, room for growth in terms of seating where we run out of growth in the Gates Center with sell-out crows. I think the opportunity for growth is there, the tradition is phenomenal, it's an arena where our fans are comfortable.

"(The Gates Center) is an arena where we practice every day, it gets loud, our fan base is right on top of you, there's an excitement on both settings. As we grow our fan base, I want to play in both sites even though It creates more challenges. You don't have the comfort of the same game-day routine. You have the suites at the Coliseum, corporate opportunities, students. Our track record is that we've grown our fan base when we play games at the Coliseum."