Getting to know you, first task

Cowboys work on chemistry

{{tncms-inline alignment="left" content="<p><span>9 p.m. Wednesday</span></p>" id="b114c738-5fc1-4001-862c-538324c49e22" style-type="fact" title="McNeese at St. Mary’s" type="relcontent"}}

Almost everything about the McNeese State men’s basketball program is new this season.

The coaching staff is new. There are 10 new players. Even the Health and Human Performance Education Complex — the $42 million future home to men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball — still has the new smell to it, as well as the dust from being unfinished.

Cowboys’ head coach Heath Schroyer faces a tall task: get the chemistry right and make them competitive to fire up an apathetic fan base. The Cowboys have not finished the regular season with a winning record since the 2011-12 season. Since the 2001-02 season, McNeese has produced a winning record five times. They were 11-17 last season.

"Having clear expectations, defining roles, just understanding that it’s a process," Schroyer responded when asked how he’s going to get this team to gel quickly. "Not everything is going to be perfect right away. We’re not going to win every single game we play. But I really believe in this team. I like the makeup of our team because they really bought into our culture."

The culture Schroyer speaks of is one that he essentially had to build from the ground up after taking over for Dave Simmons, whose contract was not renewed after a 154-211 record in 12 seasons. When Schroyer was hired in March, he said that just about everything in the program needed changing. It didn’t matter if it was on the court or off.

Guard James Harvey, one of three seniors who have been at McNeese their entire career, said he feels like this season can be a fresh start.

"The last three years haven’t been as good as we had hoped," Harvey said. "We’re just looking forward to the season getting started and having a great season."

From a chemistry standpoint, players say that it’s already there. That could be difficult to achieve with a team that picked up four Division I and six junior college transfers in the offseason. But that does not seem to be the case.

One of those transfers — junior forward Will Robinson — said the chemistry is there off the court and hopes it will lead to on-court success.

"It’s probably the best team as far as being off the court, the type of brotherhood we got," Robinson said. "It’s crazy. We’re always together, we’re always laughing, joking. We talk about basketball a lot, outside of just being on the floor and in a basketball situation. It’s real good."

The team’s chemistry will be put to the test early as the Cowboys start the season with a West Coast road trip. McNeese opens the season Wednesday against St. Mary’s, which won 30 games last season. Two days later, the Cowboys head to Tempe, Arizona, to take on Arizona State of the Pac-12. Last season, the Sun Devils won 20 games and lost in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament.

It is a tough start to the schedule for a team that does not yet know each other, at least in a game setting. But they embrace the challenge.

"I’m excited," said Robinson, who transferred to McNeese from Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida. "Two real good teams. We wouldn’t be who we are and not be led by our coach if we didn’t go try to fight and play real good and compete against some of the better teams. Even if nobody thinks that we can win or anything like that, none of that stuff matters. That’s why we’re here every day. We work hard for hours just so we can compete against what people would think is better competition. We just got to go into it like we know we can win and just play as hard as we can."

<span>9 p.m. Wednesday</span>

Local News

Ronnie Johns announces retirement as La. Gaming Board chairman

life

CYT’s ‘Matilda’ is a story about overcoming in more ways than one

Crime

5/9: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Cassidy: Speaker Johnson doing ‘a fantastic job’

Crime

Homeless man charged in copper wire theft

Local News

Just Imagine: Creating a better, more resilient future for SW Louisiana

Local News

House rejects Greene’s effort to oust Speaker Mike Johnson

Local News

La. House approves bill calling for constitutional convention

McNeese Sports

Cowgirls survive, play again

McNeese Sports

Wade adds ex-Syracuse guard to roster

McNeese Sports

UIW stuns Cowgirls

Crime

5/8: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Louisiana lawmakers reject adding exceptions of rape and incest to abortion ban

Local News

Driver killed in single-vehicle I-10 crash

Local News

Mobile Makerspace: A one-of-a-kind classroom on wheels

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column: Insurance is voters’ nightmare

Business

$2.2 million grant awarded to Coushatta Tribe for high-speed internet access

Informer

The Informer: Pro-Palestinian protesters want schools to pressure Israel

McNeese Sports

Westenburg leads Cowboy onslaught

Local News

Judges say they’ll draw new Louisiana election map if lawmakers don’t by June 3

Business

TikTok sues US to block law that could ban the social media platform

Local News

Oasis A Safe Haven opens for first time since 2020 hurricane

Local News

Stormy Daniels describes meeting Trump during occasionally graphic testimony in hush money trial

Local News

Speaker Johnson delivers address at US Holocaust Memorial Days of Remembrance ceremony