Nov. 2, 2012
BEAUMONT - While the Cardinals will not play their season opener until Nov. 12, the Lamar men's basketball team will play a pair of exhibition games beginning with a 1 p.m. contest against McMurry on Saturday at the Montagne Center.
The Cardinals, who will open the regular season at Kansas State in the NIT Season Tip-Off, will also welcome Northwood to the Montagne Center on Monday evening (Nov. 5) for a 7 p.m. tip.
Lamar and McMurry have played twice before in basketball, but not since the 1956-57 season. Each team won on their own floor with the Cardinals taking the first meeting 78-49 and the War Hawks bouncing back less than two weeks later for a 73-66 win.
The Cardinals are coming off a 23-12 year which included winning the Southland Conference Tournament and the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the 1999-2000 season. Lamar lost six seniors, including its top five scorers from last year's team, so second year head coach Pat Knight will use the two exhibitions to prepare for the regular season.
"We are looking at this like it's another practice," said Knight. "It'll be in a live environment against somebody other than ourselves in front of a crowd which is good. It's really for the fans since we don't have very many home games.
"We'll throw in a bunch of different lineups and kind of see who works well together. I need to see who's good enough to start and start seeing what our rotation is going to be, and this is just part of it. For me, though, it's just another day of practice."
Lamar returns just five letterwinners off last year's team and only one starter in senior forward Stan Brown who posted averages of 4.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last year. Fellow seniors Donley Minor and Nikko Acosta, junior Osas Ebomwonyi and sophomore Sebastian Norman are the other four returnees.
Including freshman Rhon Mitchell
who redshirted last season, the Cardinals will feature nine new players. Despite the loss off three all-conference players, Lamar was still picked to finish in the top half of the 10-team Southland Conference race by the league's coaches.
The War Hawks have seven returning letterwinners and one returning starter off last year's 20-9 team. Senior forward Dominick Walker is the leading returning scorer and rebounder after posting per game averages of 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds a year ago.