STANDISH, ME – The 2012-13 Saint Joseph's College men's basketball schedule has been released. The Monks will play 25 games this winter with a docket that features 18 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) contests and seven non-conference tilts.
St. Joe's, the most successful GNAC program over the last five years under the guidance of Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99, heads into the new season with something to prove after suffering an early exit from the conference tournament last winter.
Sanicola, about to begin his 10th season at the helm, has established the men's basketball program as a GNAC powerhouse and perennial championship contender. Under his watch, the Monks have gone 92-45 (.672) overall and 65-25 (.722) in GNAC play since joining the conference five years ago, with both win totals and victory rates counting as conference-highs during the span.
The challenging non-conference slate includes games versus Bowdoin, Southern Maine, Bates, Husson, Becker, WPI and Maine-Farmington. Overall, the Monks' 17 opponents combined to post a 321-340 (.486) record last season and Saint Joseph's owns a 271-167 (.619) collective winning percentage against the group.
The 2012-13 campaign begins at home, as the Royal Blue plays host to Bowdoin College on November 20th in a 7:30 PM tip-off. The Monks are just 7-12 versus the Polar Bears in the history of the matchup, but have fared better of late with victories in three of the last four meetings dating back to the 2008-09 season.
St. Joe's goes on to face another in-state rival five days later, as the team travels to Gorham for bout with University of Southern Maine in the annual battle for the Costello Cup. The Monks have claimed the coveted Cup, named in honor of the late "Doc" Costello, former USM Athletic Director and longtime basketball coach, for the last four seasons and own a 14-9 record versus the Huskies during the 23-year history of the Cup series.
Saint Joseph's hosts Bates College two days later and continues the in-state theme with a game at Husson University on November 29th. The Monks' GNAC-opener takes place on the road when the Royal Blue travels to Suffolk University on December 1st.
The Monks then host GNAC-rival Rivier College on December 6th before returning to Boston to face Emerson College on December 8th. After final exams and a truncated Christmas Break, the Royal Blue hosts a pair of tough non-conference New England opponents in a matter of four days, as 2012 NCAA Tournament participant Becker College comes to the Alfond Center on December 30th and perennial NEWMAC contender WPI travels to Standish on January 2nd.
St. Joe's then enters the crux of the conference schedule with 10 GNAC tilts over a three-week span. The stretch starts with a trip to Norwich University on January 5th and, three days later, the Monks host reigning conference champion Albertus Magnus College in what should be one of the best games of the season. The Falcons, 28-2 overall last winter, breezed through the GNAC last season with a perfect 18-0 record in conference play and went 1-1 in NCAA Tournament play in early March.
Following a pair of road games versus GNAC foes Johnson & Wales University and Rivier on January 10th and 12th, respectively, Saint Joseph's returns to Standish for the team's only three-game homestand of the year. The home stretch begins on January 15th with a contest against Mount Ida College and continues with contests versus Anna Maria College and Johnson & Wales. The game with the Anna Maria on January 19th promises to be one of the best of the season, since the AMCATS upset the Monks in all three meetings last year, including a shocking defeat in a GNAC Tournament semifinal matchup, a loss that effectively ended the Monks' 2011-12 campaign.
The string of conference games ensues, as the Royal Blue plays at Emmanuel College on January 24th and hosts Lasell College two days later. St. Joe's travels to Mount Ida on January 28th and hosts University of Maine-Farmington in the team's final non-conference game of the regular season on January 30th.
Five GNAC games remain, and the last leg of the season begins with a home contest against Emmanuel on February 2nd. The Monks play at Lasell three days later and take to the road again with a game at Albertus Magnus on February 9th. The final two games of the year both take place at home, as Norwich and Emerson hit the Alfond Center hardwood on February 12th and 16th, respectively.
The GNAC Tournament begins with a quarterfinal round on Tuesday, February 19th and continues with the semifinals to be played on Thursday, February 21st. The conference championship takes place on Saturday, February 23rd and the GNAC Champion advances to the NCAA Tournament, which begins on Saturday, March 2nd.
Saint Joseph's went 18-9 overall and 13-5 in GNAC play en route to claiming the #2 seed in the conference tournament last winter. The Monks walked past Mount Ida in the GNAC quarterfinal round but saw the season come to a premature close with a one-point loss at the hands of #6 Anna Maria in a semifinal matchup on February 23rd.