Cardinals to open 2011-12 season vs. Gators in Florida

Cardinals to open 2011-12 season vs. Gators in Florida

WASHINGTON – Catholic University Head Coach Steve Howes has announced that the Cardinals will take on the University of Florida in an exhibition game on Thursday, November 3 inside the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville.  This marks the second straight year in which CUA will take on a Division I powerhouse after the Cardinals began their 100th season by playing Notre Dame in South Bend in November of 2010. 

"I am extremely excited and proud to be playing the University of Florida this coming season.  I know our players and staff share in that joy," Howes said.  "This is a tremendous honor for our program to take on such a storied and successful program like the Gators."

He continued, "I am very appreciative to Coach (Billy) Donovan and Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley for helping to make this a reality.  To look down the sidelines that night and go up against a future Hall of Fame coach will be an awesome privilege and challenge."

The exhibition will pit two of the most successful basketball programs in the entire nation, albeit from different NCAA divisions, against one another.  CUA has won at least 20 games in 11 of the past 14 seasons, including 2010-11 when the Cardinals rattled off 21 victories and advanced to the championship game of the Landmark and ECAC Tournaments. 

CUA has played in 13 NCAA Tournaments in its history, culminating with the 2001 Division III National Championship, and the Cardinals have advanced to eight conference title games in the last 11 seasons.  Howes, who ranks fourth all-time at CUA for wins, has led the Cardinals to four 20-win seasons, two conference championships, a pair of NCAA Tournaments and six postseason appearances.

Florida is led by Head Coach Billy Donovan, who has been on the Gators sideline for 15 years.  During that time the former Providence standout has registered 359 victories, including 150 within the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Under Donovan's leadership Florida has won a pair of National Championships, which came in back-to-back seasons (2006, 2007).  The Gators have made 16 trips to the NCAA Tournament, including this past season, when they advanced to the Elite Eight and finished with 29 victories; the 29 wins are tied for the fifth most in school annals.  With Donovan leading the way UF has captured four SEC championships and played in three National Championship games.

This will be the first meeting between CUA and Florida and will serve as a homecoming of sorts for sophomore guard Billy Donovan, who played his high school basketball at St. Francis Catholic in Gainesville.  Donovan's father is the head coach of the Gators.