Kuxhausen returns to home state, Cowboys open season at Nebraska

Francis James, Special to the American Press

All during his recordsetting season the family of Dru Kuxhausen would watch McNeese State basketball on the internet, living and dying with every shot.

Wednesday morning they hope to see him and the rest of the Cowboys in person. That is, of course, if they are allowed in the building when McNeese opens the season with a game at Nebraska.

“I’m excited to be going home,” said Kuxhausen, who is from Scottsbuff, Nebraska. “I am looking forward to playing in front of my family, that is if they are allowed in.”

The strangest year of college basketball is set to begin for McNeese at 11 a.m. against the Cornhuskers. The game will tip off on the Big Ten Network.

For Kuxhausen this will be his first game in his home state since he played at Western Nebraska.

Last year Kuxhausen set five school records and one Southland Conference mark. He also led the nation in made three-point shots with 125 for the 15-17 Cowboys. His buzzer-beating three in the regular season finale lifted McNeese back into the SLC tournament.

“We had a lot of growth last year,” said McNeese State head coach Heath Schroyer. “We want to build on that and get back into the top three or four in our conference and stay there.”

Kuxhausen was chosen as a first-team all-SLC player for the preseason. He is joined by fellow backcourt mate A.J. Lawson, who is on the second team.

“Having two experienced and talented guards is a big plus for us,” said Schroyer. “It gives us a solid foundation to build upon.”

But what really has Schroyer excited is the fact that this team seems to have depth, which may be especially important in a year that has so much uncertainty with Covid-19.

“I really like this team, I really like our depth,” Schroyer said. “This is the first year where I really believe we can go nine or 10 deep. We can rotate fresh bodies and we will play a lot of people.”

Last year a seven-game win streak not only lifted the Cowboys but it all seemed to wear them out.

With two inside stars, Sha’markus Kennedy and Roydell Brown, lost to graduation, Schroyer is happy to bring in a pair of new players, Keyshawn Feazell and Carlos Rosario. Feazell is a 6-9, 235-pounder from Mississippi State and Rosario is 6-8, 220 from Pensacola College. They will add size and toughness to McNeese’s inside game.

“We have wanted to get more gurth in the program and size,” said Schroyer. “This pair will help do that.”

That will be tested in the opener against a Big Ten program.

“It is really a good test for us,” said Schroyer, whose team will return for its home opener Monday night at Burton Coliseum against Bacone College of Oklahoma.

But this is like no year before, as teams will try to keep healthy first and foremost. That is never easy when it comes to dealing with college students.

“We have told our kids all along what is at stake,” said Schroyer. “They know what is going on. We try to keep our bubble as tight as we can. We can only control what we can control.”

That has been tough when two hurricanes have left the city of Lake Charles devastated and is keeping the Cowboys from playing in their on-campus gym.

“It has been tough for everybody,” said Schroyer. “Our kids have been displaced twice, but we are happy to be here and happy to be back home.”

He also feels the team is now playing for a new purpose.

“We have a unique opportunity to help a university and a community rebuild,” Schroyer said. “This program is starting to take on the personality of lake Charles with grit and drive.”

That drive begins Wednesday.McNeese State’s Dru Kuxhausen looks for an offensive opportunity as a pair of University of New Orleans defenders force the pass during a game last season.

Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press

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