One thing is certain for Northwestern State men’s basketball, whoever sits in the head coaching seat will formulate a challenging non-conference schedule.
As the Demons prepare for their third coach in as many seasons, Rick Cabrera’s squad will continue the NSU tradition of strong out-of-conference opponents in its 13 non-Southland games.
“The non-conference schedule is not easy, nor was it intended to be,” Cabrera said. “A few of these games are part of series we have, but we feel good about it. Just because another school is a ‘bigger’ conference, they play on rims the same as ours and the court dimensions are the same as ours. We’re going to suit up and play to win. The whole point of the 13 non-conference games is to prepare us for the 18 conference games.”
NSU opens the Cabrera era at home against Dallas Christian on Nov. 6, marking the first time since the 2019-20 season the Demons will lid the lift on the season in Prather Coliseum.
Two of Northwestern State’s first three games are in the friendly confines of their home arena as the Demons will sandwich a Nov. 13 home meeting with Stephen F. Austin around a Nov. 9 trip to Tulane.
“A little bit of both,” Cabrera said of his preference as a first-year head coach starting at home against starting on the road. “It’s so hard to get home games in this business, so you take what you can get. You always try to make the comfort for your players as strong as possible, so if they can sleep in their beds the night before, then I’m fine with that.”
Following the visit from the Lumberjacks, the Demons hit the road for seven straight road or neutral-site games before returning home for their lone non-conference homestand – a two-game set against Rice (Dec. 16) and Southern-New Orleans (Dec. 19).
In between, the Demons start their nation-wide odyssey with three games in a multi-team event at North Florida from Nov. 16-18 before playing road games at ULM (Nov. 28), at Baylor (Dec. 2), at Southern Miss (Dec. 9) and at Boise State (Dec. 12).
The first three teams in the road swing are repeat opponents from Northwestern State’s 2022-23 schedule as is Stephen F. Austin.
The Demons are playing in a single-site, multi-team event for the fourth straight season – the first of which will be a three-games-in-three-days schedule.
“That was part of the process in scheduling – get an MTE where you’re playing consecutive days, and that’s what we got,” Cabrera said. “Those games are always beneficial because it’s not normal. It’s unusual to play three games in three days. It allows these guys to get a feel and develop a mental approach. There is a lot of detail, a lot of scouting involved, so when we get to Lake Charles in March (for the Southland Conference Tournament), I can revert to those games.”
The Demons start and end Southland Conference play with road games – opening at Lamar on Jan. 6 before closing league play two months later at Texas A&M-Commerce.
NSU has a three-game homestand from Jan. 8-15 against McNeese, UIW and HCU while the Demons’ lone three-game road SLC swing comes Feb. 17-24 at UIW, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and HCU as the league returns to a Saturday-Monday schedule for men’s league games for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
“The way they’re doing the scheduling, it looks balanced,” Cabrera said. “You don’t have four on the road or anything like that. We know we’re getting nine home games and nine road games no matter how they slice and dice it. We’ll go out, play and try to win them all.”
The Southland Conference Tournament will be held at McNeese’s Legacy Center in Lake Charles from March 10-13.
Northwestern State basketball season tickets and single-game tickets will be available Monday by visiting NSUTickets.com or by calling 318-357-4268.