FAU's basketball program could find life difficult in Conference USA, which is a much tougher league than the Sun Belt.
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BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic plays South Alabama in its Sun Belt Conference opener at 7 p.m. Thursday, but it's hard not to think about the Conference USA basketball opener in 2014.
After FAU announced Thgursday it will be leaving the Sun Belt for Conference USA, Owls coach Mike Jarvis' job became more difficult.
“It's going to be tougher because you are going against more schools who have made the commitment to getting to the NCAA in basketball,” Jarvis said. “It's going to take a huge commitment from the university, but it's one I'm sure they are willing to make.”
FAU President Mary Jane Saunders said improving facilities is important as the schools makes the move to Conference USA.
“Facilities improvement is definitely going to be a part of it,” Saunders said.
Conference USA had the 10th highest RPI last season, while the Sun Belt was No. 20. C-USA had two teams in the NCAA Tournament last season when Southern Mississippi earned an at-large bid – a rare occurunce in the Sun Belt.
The Owls won the Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship in 2010-11, but haven't won a game in the conference tournament in five seasons.
Jarvis said FAU will need to upgrade its basketball facilities to be competitive in the tougher league.
FAU Arena seats around 2,500 and doesn't measure up to the arenas of Conference USA schools,
“Whether we stayed in the Sun Belt or not, it's time to upgrade our facility,” Jarvis said. “Our facility in Conference USA would be considered to be a great practice facility, so yes, we need to upgrade.”
Need to Knows: Jaguars @ Owls
South Alabama (2-3, 0-0 Sun Belt)
at FAU (2-3, 0-0 Sun Belt)
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: The Burrow, Boca Raton
- Tickets: 1-866-FAU-Owls or FAUSports.com
- Radio: 760-AM
- Streaming audio: FAUSports.com, ESPN760.com
- Scouting the opponent: USAJaguars.com
- About the Jaguars: South Alabama is looking for the programs's 300th victory in Sun Belt play. ...Jaguars coach Ronnie Arrow needs one win to tie former UAB coach Gene Bartow for the most Sun Belt wins in league history. Arrow is 110-84 in conference play in 14 seasons at South Alabama. ...Junior Augustine Rubit has scored 20 or more points over the last four games
- About the Owls: With a victory vs. South Alabama, Mike Jarvis will win his 55th game at FAU, the most since the Owls moved to Division I. ...FAU is 1-3 under Jarvis in Sun Belt openers. ...South Alabama won both of last season’s meetings, including a 79-76 overtime loss in Boca Raton despite 21 points from G Greg Gantt.
- Projected Starting Lineups
Coach: Ronnie Arrow
G Freddie Goldstein 5-10 Sr. (5.0 ppg)
G Dre Connor 6-0 Jr. (2.3 ppg)
G Mychel Ammons 6-6 So. (12.6 ppg)
F Augustine Rubit 6-7 Jr. (20.8 ppg)
F Javier Carter 6-7 Sr. (5.6 ppg)
Coach: Mike Jarvis
G Jackson Trapp 6-4 Fr. (8.0 ppg)
G Pablo Bertone 6-2 Jr. (6.4 ppg)
G Greg Gantt 6-2 Sr. (15.2 ppg)
F Jordan McCoy 6-6 Sr. (6.2 ppg)
C Dragan Sekelja 7-0 Jr. (4.4 ppg)