Husker men have first Pinnacle Arena opponent

2013-05-17T18:30:00Z 2013-08-02T15:12:04Z Husker men have first Pinnacle Arena opponentBy BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Dunk City, welcome to Lincoln.

Florida Gulf Coast, the fast-paced, high-flying, dunk-centric basketball team that captured the nation’s attention at last season’s men's NCAA Tournament and earned the imaginative “Dunk City” moniker, will be Nebraska’s first opponent at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

A source with direct knowledge of Florida Gulf Coast’s schedule told the Journal Star on Friday that the Eagles will christen Nebraska’s new 15,200-seat arena. The source did not know the date or time of the game.

Neither Marc Boehm, the Nebraska executive associate athletic director who oversees basketball, nor Nebraska coach Tim Miles would comment on the matter Friday. Boehm said Nebraska expects to make an announcement in June regarding its plans for the first basketball game in Pinnacle Bank Arena.

FGCU returns four starters from last year’s team that became the first No. 15 seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16, and did so in only its second year of postseason eligibility.

The Eagles’ magical NCAA tourney run included double-digit victories against No. 2 seed Georgetown and No. 7 seed San Diego State, and helped land coach Andy Enfield a new job at USC.

Joe Dooley, who’s no stranger to Lincoln, is the new Florida Gulf Coast coach. He spent 10 years as a Kansas assistant coach under Bill Self, and becomes only the third coach in FGCU program history.

Florida Gulf Coast finished 26-11 last season and was ranked No. 25 in the final USA Today/Coaches Poll for the first ranking in school history. The Eagles, who were 13-5 in the Atlantic Sun Conference and won the league tournament, are the first Atlantic Sun team to finish the season ranked since College of Charleston in 1997.

This will be FGCU’s second trip to Lincoln. Nebraska defeated the Eagles 51-50 on Dec. 7, 2011, and many of those players helped spur last year’s NCAA Tournament run, including Sherwood Brown, the only starter FCGU loses.

Returning starters are guards Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson, and forwards Chase Fieler and Eric McKnight.

Nebraska, which has sold out its first season at Pinnacle Bank Arena, will host at least five teams that made last year’s Sweet 16 — Florida Gulf Coast and Miami in nonconference games, and Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State in Big Ten Conference play.

Other Big Ten teams visiting Lincoln next season are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois and Penn State.

Nebraska will play Wisconsin and Minnesota only once, and play road games at Iowa and Michigan State as part of its single-play schedule.

NU returns starters Ray Gallegos, Shavon Shields and David Rivers from last year’s team that finished 15-18 in Miles’ first season as coach.

Reach Brian Rosenthal at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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