MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Barry University men's basketball team is a month away from opening the 2013-14 season.
The Buccaneers will play at cross-town rival Johnson & Wales to open the season Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Barry's home opener is Tues, Nov. 12 against Florida Memorial at 7:30 p.m.
Barry, under first-year head coach Butch Estes, will host Belmont Abbey and Nova Southeastern in a Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 29-30.
"We're excited about getting the concept of a Thanksgiving tournament started this year," Estes said. "Belmont Abbey is in a very competitive conference, and I thought it would be a very competitive match for us. Plus, Miami is such a great city, especially in the winter time, so that makes this an attractive place to play at that time of the year. Hopefully we can build this up to four teams next year."
The Bucs open Sunshine State Conference play against Tampa Saturday, Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. Another attractive non-conference game is set for Dec. 17 against Claflin.
"We certainly want to take advantage of our location, and we want a good quality opponent like Claflin to test us and be enjoyable to the student body," Estes said.
Barry will compete in the Lynn University Courtyard by Marriott Holiday Classic Dec. 20-21 in Boca Raton with non-conference games against Clayton State and Livingstone. Both tip-offs are set for 5:30 p.m.
"It's a chance to get on a neutral court, and play competitive teams," Estes said of Lynn's tournament. "We're gonna have to stretch to play those games, just like we're going to have to stretch to play in our conference.
Following a two-week holiday break, the Bucs re-enter league play when they hit the road to Lakeland, Fla., for a date with defending SSC champion Florida Southern. Barry returns home four days later for the home portion of its two-game season series with Palm Beach Atlantic on Jan. 8.
SSC play resumes on Jan. 11 at home against Saint Leo. Barry's regular season home finale is set for Feb. 22 against Rollins on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. The Bucs close the regular season on the road at Florida Tech in Melbourne on Mar. 1.
"We will have Tampa to start (league play), and that'll be a good test for us," Estes said. "It will give us a good barometer. Then when we return from the break, we've got Florida Southern. Might as well play the best early. Our goal is to get to the top of this league."
The SSC Tournament will be held Mar. 5-9 at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla.
"The thing I'm most excited about is being in a league where if you don't win the league, you have another chance," Estes said, thoughts turned to the postseason tournament for an abbreviated moment. "Everybody wants that chance to get that Snicker's bar. Hopefully each day we can improve."
Barry will play an exhibition at NCAA Division I South Florida at the Sun Dome in Tampa at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4.
"I'm excited about it. Our goal is to go up there and give them a competitive game," Estes said. "I think it motivates our guys to get through this preseason. Hopefully we can make them better, and hopefully, they'll make us better.
"I think our schedule's a nice balance. There's never a night off in the conference. Anybody can beat anybody. That'll be a new experience for me. It's great. We're going to have to be sharp every night."