McNeese men’s basketball team faces scheduling challenges

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Brandon Chambers has the toughest job at McNeese State.

The top assistant to head basketball coach Will Wade is trying desperately to schedule home games for the Cowboys.

It is a challenging task.

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Chambers has been able to get the road games set, including the season opener against South Dakota State on Nov. 4. The Cowboys will travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a game against the Jackrabbits.

There is also a trip planned for the U.S. Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving weekend for three games, a previously scheduled game at Louisiana-Lafayette and a contest against Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The Cowboys will also play at Alabama on Nov. 11. The Crimson Tide reached the Final Four last season and are likely the SEC preseason favorite.

However, getting somebody to play in Lake Charles has not been as easy.

“It was tough to get games last year, but we got nothing this season,” Chambers said. “There is not a school in the country that we haven’t tried.”

That included a call to two-time defending national champ Connecticut that went without a resolution.

“Coach (Will) Wade would play anyone at any time at any place,” Chambers said.

But nobody wants to come to Lake Charles.

Granted, getting UConn on campus isn’t going to happen, but even mid-majors say no.

This isn’t anything new, only now it is for a different reason. In the past college teams tended to avoid McNeese because of the dilapidated home facilities and small crowds. They did, however, come.

Last year McNeese had home games against Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Mississippi and Tennessee-Martin. Getting Division I teams to come now hasn’t happened.

With four vacancies remaining, not one is scheduled for Lake Charles. When trying to extend one contract this offseason, McNeese says the other head coach basically said he didn’t sign up to play Wade.

“We have to get a home game against a Division I opponent,” McNeese Athletic Director Heath Schroyer said. “We may have to pay out some money for that.”

But the Cowboys aren’t in a position yet to buy games on any major level. They seem to be too good to play on their home floor where they went 18-0 in Wade’s first season.

“We will play anybody here,”Chambers said. “We will play Duke, if they will come here.”

Last season the Cowboys hosted three Division I opponents but also were ridiculed for having four non-DI teams on their home schedule.

Chambers said the Cowboys would like to avoid playing non-DIs this time, hoping to be a nationally ranked club, but that might be impossible.

“Nobody wants to face us at home,” Chambers said. “I don’t mind people saying no, it’s people not responding that makes it really tough.

“I get it, coaches have to win games, but you learn who you can trust and who you can’t trust.”

McNeese will have 10 home Division I games guaranteed with the expansion of the Southland Conference this season and will again host the league’s postseason tournament. More could be added depending on if other schools join the league.

However, avoiding games against National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics or National Christian College Athletic Association teams might be hard again.

What would be nice, McNeese says, is if other state schools would understand the benefits McNeese and Wade bring to one game.

It seems the better the Cowboys, the tougher Chambers’ job becomes.