Cowboys host mid-major round-robin, three-day event tips off today

Published 1:00 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

When an on-campus basketball facility was first considered, it was hoped that out-of-town teams would want to come to Lake Charles to play there.

Four years after it opened, and repaired after two 2020 hurricanes, that is starting to happen.

Over the next three days McNeese State will host a four-team, round-robin event made up of mid-major programs.

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The Cowboys (1-1) will play Western Carolina, Lindenwood and Lamar on successive days starting at 4:30 p.m. today in the Legacy Center.

“It is great opportunity for our program and our community,” said McNeese head coach John Aiken. “It is a great chance for our team to play at home instead of going on the road for most of the first two months.”

McNeese will play four of its first five games on its home court.

“That is a big thing for our program,” Aiken said. “It gives us a chance sleep in our own beds and get some practice time in.”

The Cowboys overpowered non-Division I Champion Christian at home and lost at Tulane. Western Carolina, out of the Southern Conference, is 1-2.

In today’s first game, Lamar (2-1) takes on Ohio Valley foe Lindenwood (1-2) at 2 p.m.

“None of our game plans will be the same so it is a chance to get a lot of different looks for us,” Aiken said. “It is also a chance for us to see how three different teams attack our defense. You don’t get that very often.”

Selling the program is nice, Aiken said, but building a foundation for a winning season is more important. This weekend McNeese looks to take a step in that direction, he said.

“We will see a lot of people get a chance to play either out of fatigue or foul troubles,” Aiken said. “This is a chance to play different lineups and see what works and what doesn’t. It’s also a chance to experience quick turnarounds like we do in tournaments in March.”

Sophomore Christian Shumate leads the Cowboys in scoring (13 points per game) and rebounding (9.5). But Aiken said he is looking for Ty McMillan to get more playing time.

A concussion kept him from the opener and he was limited against Tulane. McMillan is an integral part of McNeese’s inside hopes, Aiken said.

The 6-foot-9 junior transfer from Georgia joins 6-8 Malachi Rhodes as key additions to the front line.

“Ty gives us great length and ability to pass the ball from the post,” Aiken said. “He should be good to go fully this weekend.”

Johnathan Massie’s move from the point has already paid off. The reigning Southland Conference Freshman of the Year is averaging 12.5 points.

“Johnathan’s production will take a big step, I think,” Aiken said. “He is a tone-setter for us both on offense and defense.”

Aiken said McNeese is looking to shoot better on its home floor and find a point guard who protects the ball.

Freshman Donovan Oday might get more of a shot in the tournament after scoring eight points in 9 minutes against Tulane last time out.

“We just have to make sure we get shots and don’t turn the ball over,” Aiken said.

After this weekend the Cowboys will have a better idea what their rotation will look like. And fans will see just where they fit when compared to mid-major programs.

Tournament Schedule


Lindenwood (1-2) vs. Lamar (2-1), 2 p.m.

Western Carolina (1-2) vs. McNeese (1-1), 4:30 p.m.


Lamar vs. Western Carolina, 11 a.m.

Lindenwood vs. McNeese, 1:30 p.m.


Lindenwood vs. Western Carolina, 11 a.m.

Lamar vs. Cowboys, 1:30 p.m.