Alcorn will find home on the road|[7/20/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Months before the first jump shot is taken and the first lap of practice is run, Alcorn State is facing a long road back to the NCAA Tournament.

Very long.

Alcorn released its 2005-06 men’s basketball schedule on Tuesday, and it doesn’t include a home game in 2005. The Braves open with 11 straight road games – only one of which is in Mississippi. The schedule takes the Braves from one coast to the other, with games in eight different states before their home opener Jan. 7 against Jackson State.

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In all, Alcorn only has nine home dates on a 27-game regular-season schedule.

“It’s hard getting teams to come to campus,” said Alcorn coach Samuel West, echoing a sentiment that is familiar to small schools. “We had two opportunities, but they were during the holidays, around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when nobody is on campus. And it’s not fair to the employees here to have to make them work those games.”

Instead, West will take the Braves, well, west. After opening the season against South Florida on Nov. 18, Alcorn will face Arizona State, Southern Cal and New Mexico before playing its first game in Mississippi on Dec. 30 at Ole Miss.

The Braves will also play at Florida State on Nov. 21 and at Alabama-Birmingham on Dec. 10, with other road dates against Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin and Texas Southern sprinkled in before New Year’s. In all, the Braves will cover nearly 16,000 miles before the first home game.

The Braves have three new starters and are trying to bounce back from a 7-22 season in 2004-05.

“We get a chance to expose these kids and see parts of the country that they wouldn’t normally see,” West said. “And it gives them a chance to bond, is what it really does.”