By Colby Gable
On November 5, the App State basketball team will kick its season off against the Wolverines of Michigan. While the short history of these athletic programs facing off against one another usually centers on the historic win from Appalachian’s football team at the Big House in 2007, this year, App is hoping to recapture a similar upset only this time on the hardwood.
For both teams, this will be the first opportunity for newly hired coaches Dustin Kerns of Appalachian, and Juwan Howard of Michigan, to set a standard for the rest of the season, and establish the beginning precedents of what their team’s identity is all about.
As Coach Kerns mentioned on Media Day, “I’m going to make adjustments based off our players, not our system…our identity wants to be on the defensive end of the floor. And that’s something we’ve got to continue to get better at. I want to be a defensive team that can score. Based off the personnel we’ve lost from last year, we lost 79 threes. We’ve returned some guys that can make some shots, but I think a strength of ours is bigger guards that can attack the rim and get to the free-throw line and find ways to score that way. Especially with the three-point line being moved back a little bit.”
Howard, who come back to Ann Arbor for his first collegiate head coaching job after spending his last six years after working under Miami Head Coach, Erik Spoelstra, and helped the Heat win three division titles (2014, ’16 and ’18) and one Eastern Conference championship (2014). As Steve Behr reports, “We have put together a very challenging and balanced non-conference schedule,” Coach Howard said in a statement. “These 11 games give us not only 11 opportunities to grow and get better as a team, but it also helps to face several high-caliber opponents prior to getting into the Big Ten schedule. I am looking forward to seeing how we progress.”
In the history of the two schools, this will be the first time they have played against one another in basketball, and Appalachian will be facing a Wolverines team coming off a strong 30-7 record overall and going 15-5 in conference play last season. It is safe to assume the Mountaineers will have their hands full in Ann Arbor, especially coming a season after losing one of their most prominent go-to scorers, Ronshad Shabazz. As Behr went on to report, Coach Kerns welcomes the opportunity and mentioned, “These are games we want to be a part of,” citing national prestige of Michigan’s historic Athletic Department and the increasing recognition the game gives to App’s basketball “profile,” The game versus Michigan will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m.
Appalachian’s next game after Michigan will be their first home game on November 7 versus Ferrum University at 7 p.m. at the Holmes Convocation Center. With the return of eight veterans from the 2018-19 season, which finished 11-21 overall, and 6-12 in the Sun Belt Conference, Coach Kerns and co. will look to begin a new culture in Boone. Promotional additions for November 7’s game will include key-tag giveaways and a Postgame Meet and Greet where those in the audience will have a chance to talk to players and sign autographs after the game.
Fans wishing to purchase single-game tickets for the upcoming season can do so by calling the Appalachian State ticket office at 828-262-2079. Students are given free admission and General Admission tickets are $15/adult and $10/Youth (ages 3-12), with lower-level reserved tickets currently going for $10-&15 for November 7th as well. For tickets vs. Ferrum, click here.
Season tickets are still on sale and can be purchased here.