LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Bellarmine is diving into the deep end when it comes to Division I men’s basketball scheduling.
The Knights unveiled a non-conference slate that includes trips to UCLA, Duke, Gonzaga and Mississippi State.
“You look at UCLA and you look at Duke, and you say how does that happen?” Bellarmine head coach Scotty Davenport said. “Well, it’s about relationships.”
Davenport was on the same coaching staff at UofL with Bruins head coach Mick Cronin and has known Duke director of basketball operations Nolan Smith since he was born. Smith is the son of former UofL star Derek Smith.
Those connections also helped the Knights land videos for their schedule celebration.
“To bring that level of basketball now to Division I will make Division I better,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
“Always rooting for the Knights and really just want to say congratulations,” Cronin said. “It’s got to be a very, very special time to be a Knight.”
The ongoing global pandemic could change some dates, but for now, the Knights will open with an exhibition against Kentucky State on Wednesday, November 4 in Knights Hall.
Their first official game is set for November 10 against UCLA in Pauley Pavilion, however, last week the PAC 12 postponed all sports through December 31.
“We will play the game, if at all possible,” Davenport said. “Like for example, if they were to move and start conference play say in the middle of January, we would try to play the game, maybe we’ll do January 1 in L.A., instead of the Rose Bowl maybe it’ll be Bellarmine-UCLA basketball.”
The trip to Duke and Cameron Indoor Stadium is Tuesday, November 17, with a visit to Starkville, Mississippi, and a date with the Bulldogs of Mississippi State on Friday, November 20.
Just before Christmas, the Knights will travel to Spokane, Washington, to battle Gonzaga.
“20, 25 years ago, who was Gonzaga? They were Bellarmine,” Davenport said. “Now your playing one of the preseason Top 20 teams in the country and they have built their program through basketball and their brand.”
Bellarmine will tip off play in the ASUN Conference on Monday, January 4, hosting Liberty.
In state powers UofL and UK are absent from this first schedule but Davenport says he’d love to add them both in future years.
“We’ve tried, I mean obviously we would,” he said. “We’re right here, it’s the greatest college basketball community in the world. So I’m all for those games and we will exhaust ourselves trying to make those things happen.”
He said the Cats were almost on the schedule for this season, but things changed when UK’s game against Michigan was moved from London, England, to Ann Arbor, Michigan.