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CSU men feeling "right at home" for 2009-10 season

From Staff Reports

Clayton State Laker men's basketball head coach Gordon Gibbons officially released his 2009-10 schedule on Thursday. And from the looks of it, the Lakers will feel right at "home" this season.

Out of Clayton State's first 18 games to start the season, 14 will be in the friendly confines of the Athletics and Fitness Center. Overall, the Lakers will play 20 home games, including preseason exhibitions against Martinique (Nov. 6) and Baseline USA (Nov. 14) to start the season. In addition to a more competitive Peach Belt Conference, Clayton State will take on opponents ranging from the Gulf South Conference to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the Northeast-10 Conference and the Sunshine State Conference.

In addition, six NCAA Division II National Tournament teams from last season are on the Laker schedule for 2009-10. That includes four from within the Peach Belt Conference. Clayton State is aiming to improve on a 15-14 overall mark from the 2008-09 season.

"Our schedule features some high-level Division II Basketball with opponents from some of the top conferences in the eastern part of the country," said Gibbons, 155-86 entering his ninth season at the Laker helm. "Our non-conference slate is challenging, and the newly aligned Peach Belt Conference will be a bear!"

Non-conference wise, this promises to be one of the more competitive set of games for Clayton State in recent seasons. The Lakers open the regular season on Nov. 22 at home against Edward Waters, followed by a renewal against in-state rival Valdosta State on Nov. 28 at the Athletics and Fitness Center.

This will be the first meeting between the Lakers and Blazers since 2000. Head coach Mike Helfer's Valdosta State team is coming off an impressive 24-7 record in 2009 with a berth in the NCAA Division II National Tournament. The game is followed by home contests against Carver (Dec. 1) and four-year NAIA newcomer Truett-McConnell (Dec. 3).

The Lakers' first road game of the season will be a short drive up I-75 and an Atlanta-area showdown at neighboring rival Clark Atlanta out of the SIAC on Dec. 12. Despite the close proximity, this will be only the third meeting ever between Clayton State and Clark Atlanta - the first since 1996.

Clayton State will return home for contests against Shaw from CIAA on Dec. 18, and a renewal of an old NAIA rivalry against Southern Polytechnic State on Dec. 21. The Lakers will then venture down to Florida during the Holidays and play in the Winter Park Rotary Tangerine Tournament at Rollins on Dec. 29-30. It will mark the second time the Lakers have played in that annual tournament - the first time was the 2002-03 season.

Clayton State will play Northeast-10 Conference power Massachusetts-Lowell on Dec. 29, and then either host Rollins or Shaw. The Lakers' last non-conference game is set for Jan. 6 at home against NAIA power West Virginia Tech.

With the additions of Montevallo and Flagler this season, the Peach Belt Conference will return to divisional formats this season. Clayton State will be in the PBC West Division with Montevallo, North Georgia, Columbus State, Georgia College and Georgia Southwestern. The PBC East consists of Augusta State, Armstrong Atlantic, USC Aiken, Francis Marion, Lander, Flagler and UNC Pembroke.

Clayton State opens PBC play at home against UNC Pembroke on Dec. 5, followed by an early-season road showdown at defending PBC champion Augusta State on Dec. 15. The other PBC home games for the Lakers include Georgia College (Jan. 9), USC Aiken (Jan. 16), Montevallo (Jan. 20), North Georgia (Jan. 23), Armstrong Atlantic (Jan. 27), Flagler (Jan. 30), Columbus State (Feb. 17) and Georgia Southwestern (Feb. 27).

In addition to Augusta State, Clayton State plays conference games on the road at Columbus State (Jan. 13), Georgia Southwestern (Feb. 3), Georgia College (Feb. 7), Lander (Feb. 11), Francis Marion (Feb. 13), Montevallo (Feb. 20) and North Georgia (Feb. 24).