Jim Brunelli’s first game as Gannon University’s women’s basketball coach couldn’t get any tougher.
The Golden Knights will travel to play NCAA Division I defending national champion Connecticut in an exhibition Nov. 1, Gannon announced today.
The game will be played at either Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., or at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
Gannon (31-5) will return all five starters from a 2012-13 team that advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in San Antonio. Former GU coach Cleve Wright took the job as head coach at Miami (Ohio) during the offseason and Brunelli was introduced as the Knights’ coach June 17.
UConn (35-4) won its eighth national title and made its sixth consecutive appearance in the Final Four last season.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play the reigning NCAA Division I National Champion UConn Huskies,” Brunelli said. “Our entire program will always remember this experience. The chance to play against the best team in the country is incredible and we’re definitely looking forward to the experience.”
The Lady Knights beat Kent State (70-61) and the University at Buffalo (63-53) during the 2012-13 preseason, but UConn will offer a big step up in competition.
The Edinboro women’s basketball team played another D-I powerhouse, Notre Dame, last preseason and suffered an 88-28 loss.
• Meanwhile, Gannon announced the hiring of assistant Mike Whitling, who had assisted Brunelli the past three seasons at Anderson (S.C.) University.
The Knox, Pa., native graduated from Clarion University in 2004 and later received his master’s degree in education at Clarion. He served as a graduate assistant for Margaret “Gie” Parsons from 2005-08.