Cardinals face Gators on Thursday evening in Gainesville

Cardinals face Gators on Thursday evening in Gainesville

WASHINGTON - CUA opens its 2011-12 season on Thursday evening when the Cardinals take on Division I power Florida in Gainesville.  The Cardinals are coming off their 11th 20-win season in the last 14 years after posting a 21-9 record a season ago that saw them advance to the Landmark Conference and ECAC Tournament championship games.  CUA returns three starters off last year's team and also welcomes in a strong five-member freshman class. 

The Gators won 29 games a season ago and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.  The 29 wins are tied for the fifth most in school history.  Thursday will mark the first time CUA and Florida have ever met.

CUA's Billy Donovan returns to his home state on Thursday to face his father Billy Donovan, the head coach of the Gators.  The younger Billy went to high school at St. Francis Catholic where he was a 1,000-point scorer, while the elder Donovan has led Florida to a pair of national championships during his time in Gainesville.

The Cardinals led the Landmark Conference in scoring defense (60.2) and scoring margin (+10.8) last season.  Those two marks ranked 17th and 21st, respectively, in the nation.  CUA held 18 teams below 60 points and five teams to less than 50 points, including a 32-point performance by Juniata.  It was the fewest points CUA has allowed since 1964.

CUA boasted a rebound margin of +8.0 a season ago, which was good for eighth in America.  The Cardinals had a positive rebound margin in 24 contests, with a season-high +27 in a win over Drew.

CUA Head Coach Steve Howes enters this season with 131 career victories, which places him fourth all-time in school history.  Howes needs just four victories to pass Tom Young for third place with Fred Rice sitting in second with 176 wins.  Howes' career win percentage of 66.5 is second best all-time behind only Mike Lonergan's 74.0.  Lonergan is now the head coach at George Washington University.

Following a 29-win season and appearance in the Elite Eight, Florida enters this year ranked eighth in the AP poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.  The Gators return two starters and seven letterwinners off that team from last year, which went 13-3 in the SEC.  Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton were both named to the media's preseason all-conference team after averaging 14.6 and 14.2 points per game, respectively, last season.  Florida averaged 72.1 points per game and held opponents to 63.3 points, while knocking down 233 3-pointers in 2010-11.

While CUA and Florida have never met before, the Cardinals have played three current SEC schools in their history. CUA is 0-2 vs. LSU, 0-1 vs. Mississippi State and 1-1 vs. South Carolina.  The lone win came during the 1922-23 season vs. South Carolina.

CUA and Florida will tip-off their exhibition game at 7 p.m. on Thursday from Gainesville.  Florida is offering live video and audio of the game.

For more information on the Cardinals matchup with the Gators, check out the CUA game notes.

Click here to read an article on the two Donovans facing one another on Thursday evening.