Women's Basketball Unveils Toughest Schedule in School History
Opens With Defending National Champion MarylandJuly 24, 2006 · MT Media Relations
The release of the upcoming women's basketball schedule is full of challenges for the Blue Raiders. It is by far the toughest schedule in school history.
"Yes this schedule is challenging but I also see it as an opportunity," Insell said. "Every night we face a high-caliber team and we have a chance to raise the level of our team, because every night we have a chance to beat one of these teams and that instantly elevates your program. You have to play the best to be the best."
The Blue Raiders will potentially face six teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year, including opening the season in Murfreesboro, on Nov. 10, with defending National Champion Maryland. Other teams Middle Tennessee will face who reached the Big Dance in 2006 include: Minnesota, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida Atlantic and Old Dominion.
"I expect the opening game with Maryland to be huge," Insell said. "I would like to see 7,000 fans in the stands when we play Maryland, and I don't think that is an unrealistic goal."
Middle Tennessee will travel to Knoxville to square off against the University of Tennessee for the first time in 22 years on Nov. 26. The last meeting between the Blue Raiders and the Lady Vols was on March 17, 1984 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Knoxville. UT defeated Middle Tennessee 70-52. Currently, Tennessee holds a 7-0 advantage over Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders hosted the Lady Vols twice in their history - in 1978 and 1979.
"Playing Tennessee gives their fans and our fans a chance to see each others teams and reawaken a rivalry," Insell said. "However, to have a rivalry, you have to have both teams being able to compete and Middle Tennessee needs to win a game or two to make it a rivalry. I think if we can reach that point, the Tennessee and Middle Tennessee game will be a great event to watch because the teams have two very knowledgeable and savvy women's basketball fan bases."
Middle Tennessee's remaining non-conference home games include South Dakota State, Chattanooga, Austin Peay, Old Dominion and North Dakota State. The match-up with Old Dominion is the first between the Blue Raiders and the Monarchs.
Non-Conference road trips include a visit to the University of Minnesota where the Blue Raiders will play in the Golden Gophers' Tournament. Middle Tennessee will play Maine on Nov. 18 and then will either play host Minnesota or Princeton.
Along with the trip to Knoxville, Middle Tennessee will travel to play Tennessee Tech and Georgia.
Realignment highlights Sun Belt Conference play for Middle Tennessee. With the addition of Louisiana-Monroe and Florida Atlantic also comes a shuffling of the divisions. The Blue Raiders are in the East Division with Western Kentucky, Florida International, South Alabama, Troy and Florida Atlantic.
"If you can believe it, the Sun Belt Conference is going to be even tougher this year," Insell said. "Florida Atlantic won the Atlantic Sun last year and reached the NCAA Tournament, they are a good team. Every team on our side is going to be tough, as well as the teams on the West side."
The Blue Raiders will play each team in its division twice, as well as Louisiana Monroe, while it plays North Texas, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock, Louisiana-Lafayette, Denver and New Orleans once.
Middle Tennessee ended the season with a record of 20-11 in 2005-06, winning its third straight Sun Belt Tournament title. The Blue Raiders return four starters for the upcoming season including seniors Krystle Horton and Chrissy Givens. Horton and Givens have never lost in the Sun Belt Tournament. Givens is the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year, Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, and Sun Belt Tournament MVP.
It was just recently announced that Middle Tennessee had the highest attendance increase in the country. The Blue Raiders averaged 2,699 in attendance for the 2005-06 season and had an average of 695 in 2004-05. That is a positive increase of 2,004 in comparison between the two seasons.
"Leading the nation in attendance increase is huge for our basketball team and Middle Tennessee," Insell said. "However, we can't be complacent. We have to build on this and exceed this goal and this amount next year."
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More Women's Basketball NewsJun 7, 2013: Insell slated to appear at coaches' clinic
Jun 6, 2013: Former All-American Clark named Blue Raider assistant coach
May 21, 2013: Ebony Rowe selected to Sun Belt Leadership Team
May 14, 2013: Blue Raiders sign High Point standout Parker
May 8, 2013: Insell set to be inducted into Cannon Courier Hall of Fame
Apr 15, 2013: Rowe named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar