Sept. 13, 2011
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - SIUE men's basketball Head Coach Lennox Forrester has announced his team's schedule for the upcoming season.
The 27-game regular season schedule includes 13 regular season home contests and two exhibitions, Blackburn College Nov. 3 and MacMurray College Nov. 10.
The schedule also includes, for the first time, a full Ohio Valley Conference schedule. The Cougars will play 16 games against OVC competition. SIUE will play home-and-home series with Eastern Illinois, SEMO, Tennessee Tech, Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State. SIUE will host Murray State and Austin Peay, while playing road games at Tennessee State and UT Martin. The Cougars' first OVC schedule begins Dec. 29 when they host Tennessee Tech.
"It's been three years since leaving the GLVC," Forrester said. "It will be nice for our guys to look at the standings and understand positioning ourselves to compete for a championship."
"I think it will help to keep our guys focused," he continued. "There's nothing like playing 16 games where everyone is jockeying for position."
The slate features seven, and perhaps as many as nine, games against teams that advanced to the postseason in 2011. That includes at least three, and as many as five, teams that played in last season's NCAA tournament. SIUE could face Hampton in the Cancun Challenge. The Pirates were NCAA tournament participants last season. SIUE could also face an NCAA team in the Bracketbuster game in February.
The Cougars open the regular season Nov. 14 at Illinois in Champaign as part of the Cancun Challenge, which was previously announced. Three days later SIUE travels to Normal for a matchup with Illinois State, also part of the tournament. The Cougars will then travel to Mexico for the final two rounds of the Cancun Challenge. SIUE will face Lipscomb in a semifinal on Nov. 22, while the other semifinal features Sacred Heart and Hampton. The championship and consolation games are slated for the following day, Nov. 23. The Challenge represents the fourth consecutive in-season tournament in which SIUE has participated. The Cougars won Upper Division at last year's IBN Sports Las Vegas Classic. In 2009 SIUE captured the title at the Drake Hy-Vee Challenge. SIUE began its foray into Division I by participating in the inaugural Charleston Classic in 2008.
"It is definitely going to be a great experience for (our team)," Forrester said of the Cancun trip. "Not just from a basketball standpoint, but it will give them something they can take away from their college experience."
For the first time since 2010, the Cougars will be a part of the ESPN Bracketbuster series in February. The Bracketbuster games match smaller conference teams against similar opponents with the hopes of boosting those teams' visibility in regards to the NCAA tournament. SIUE's opponent will remain unknown until later in the season.
"It will be good for us to get that Bracketbuster game as a home game," Forrester said. "This time we're not worrying about who we're going to play and where we're going to play. At least we know we're at home."
Other non-conference games on the Cougars' schedule include home games with Robert Morris-Springfield Nov. 30, Cal State-Fullerton Dec. 3 (a return from 2010's Bracketbuster game), Ball State Dec. 6, and Hannibal LaGrange Dec. 10. SIUE will close the 2011-2012 season at Chicago State Feb. 29.