Pat Knight announces first basketball schedule as LU head coach
Sept. 14, 2011
BEAUMONT - Home games against long-time rivals Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, road games at perennial powers Louisville, Kentucky and Ohio State and an ESPN BracketBuster game highlight Lamar University's 31-game men's basketball schedule for 2011-12.
New head coach Pat Knight inherits a team that returns four starters and 10 letterwinners off last year's 13-17 squad. The Cardinals are looking to return to the Southland Conference Tournament for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Including Southland Tournament champion UTSA, Lamar will face four teams that played in last year's NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals will take on 2011 Final Four participant Kentucky on Dec. 28 in a game that is scheduled to be televised nationally on ESPNU.
"This is a really tough preseason schedule," said Knight. "Fans have to understand that at smaller schools, you have to make some money by playing these road games. Plus, what better way to get prepared for league play than with tough road games, and our kids want the opportunity to go against big-time opponents.
Lamar's other games against NCAA Tournament teams will be at Louisville on Nov. 13 and at Ohio State on Dec. 20. The Louisville game is part of the Global Sports Invitational, which includes a road game with Ohio and the home game with Arkansas State.
The Cards open the season at home on Nov. 11 against the Red Wolves, who escaped with a 78-75 home win over Lamar last season. This will be the 90th meeting between the former conference opponents.
The Cardinals will be participating in ESPN's BracketBusters, scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 17-19. The 10th annual event pits teams from mid-major conferences against each other to build the school's postseason resume. Lamar's opponent will be announced approximately three weeks before the game.
"This is a great opportunity to get national exposure for the program," Knight said. "I'm for anything that gets Lamar's name out there."
In another long-standing series, the Cardinals will take on former conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 3 in the Montagne Center. The Ragin' Cajuns picked up a 68-65 home win over LU last season to take a 41-40 lead in the series.
Lamar will also host UNC Charlotte of the Atlantic 10 Conference on Nov. 19. This will be just the second meeting between the two schools with the 49ers winning the first meeting 91-86 during the 1976-77 season.
"I promised when I got hired that we would try to get to an all Division I schedule," said Knight who was named to the position on April 5. "I want to schedule some really good home-and-home series so that we can host games that our fans want to come out and see."
Lamar will play a pair of in-state road games prior to the conference season, taking on TCU (Nov. 30) and Rice (Dec. 17). This will be the seventh straight season that Lamar has squared off against the Owls, and will be the first meeting with TCU since 1989. Lamar will also play road games at Tennessee-Martin (Nov. 22) and Tennessee Tech (Nov. 25).
The Cardinals' other non-conference home games will be Huston-Tillotson on Dec. 15 and Lyon College on Dec. 31. Lamar will also host St. Gregory's (Nov. 1) and Louisiana College (Nov. 7) in a pair of preseason exhibition games.
Lamar will open the Southland Conference season on the road with a Jan. 4 contest at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Cardinals knocked off the Islanders 73-56 in Beaumont last season.
Central Arkansas will serve as Lamar's Southland home opener on Jan. 7, and the Cardinals will close the regular season at home against McNeese State on March 3. The 2012 Southland Conference Tournament is scheduled for the Merrell Center in Katy on March 7-10.