Lagniappe games, basketball might get four preseason contests

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A possible change in the NCAA basketball preseason rules could give Cowboys fans an early look at this season’s team.

The NCAA is expected to approve a plan to allow teams two exhibition games and two scrimmages, up from previous seasons.

Unlike the past, the NCAA would allow fans and media to watch the games and scrimmages. That would let host schools charge for admission to the events.

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Under the proposal, the exhibitions could be hosted on campus while the scrimmages would likely take place off campus.

“I am for it,” said McNeese State Athletic Director Heath Schroyer. “I think it will happen.”

Schroyer said the Cowboys are having a hard time finishing their home schedule as Division I teams are in no hurry to play in Lake Charles on Joe Dumars Court, where McNeese was 18-0 last year.

However, Schroyer said, “Teams that aren’t willing to play here during the season we might be able to get here for these.”

The events would be another way to continue to give teams needed game-like experiences.

“It would be a great opportunity for our players to play real Division I competition,” Schroyer said. “It would also offer our fans a chance to come out and watch the team. It would allow us to show our team to the community.

“Anytime you can do all that it is a big plus.”

McNeese is four games shy on its home schedule, Schroyer said. The road schedule, however, is locked in.

The Cowboys will open their season on Nov. 4 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as part of an opening-day event. McNeese will take on South Dakota State.

The event is an inaugural three-game showcase of mid-majors.

“We’re really excited to be a part of this Field of 68 event,” McNeese head coach Will Wade said. “Tremendous venue, tremendous opponent, should be a great start to the season. College basketball usually gets off to a slow start, but being in a great event like this, where a lot of the best mid-majors in the country are at the same place, it’s gonna be awesome.”

McNeese’s profile as a basketball program has never been higher after a 30-4 season last year under Wade.

“What a way to start the season, with Will Wade bringing his Cowboys to South Dakota,” said SDSU head coach Eric Henderson.

The extra preseason work could also be a big help to the Cowboys heading into the opener. They will play three games in August during their trip to El Salvador. With a host of new players from the NCAA transfer portal on the roster, the more playing time together the better.

“That is a major part of this,” Wade said. “The game of college basketball is evolving and this is a way to help keep us with that.

“Getting more chances to play together before the season begins is a help to everybody.”

Last year the Cowboys didn’t have their full team until after the first of the year when two players, guard Mike Saunders, and forward/center C.J. Felder, were cleared by the NCAA.

The Cowboys have nine new players on the roster this summer with five returning.

The same can be said for the women’s team, which will debut a fresh roster on Nov. 4 when the Cowgirls open at home against Ecclesia at 11 a.m.

The Cowgirls will play three home games to open the season before going on the road to play Utah and Brigham Young on back-to-back nights on Nov. 18 and 19.

“With the way things are now, getting as many games or scrimmages before the season as you can is a big benefit to everybody,” said women’s head coach Lynn Kennedy.