Nov. 7, 2013
Lamar Game Notes
Butler Game Notes
BEAUMONT, Texas -
Third-year head coach Pat Knight gets set to lead the Lamar basketball team into a new season Saturday when the Cardinals travel to Indianapolis, Ind., to take on Butler. The Bulldogs, who have risen to national prominence by advancing to the NCAA finals in 2010 and 2011 finished just outside the nation's top 25 last season with a 27-9 (.750) overall record. The Bulldogs enter the new season as a member of the Big East Conference, after rising to the top of the Horizon League. The Cardinals are looking to bounce back from a 3-28 (.097) overall, and a 1-17 (.056) Southland mark last season. The 3-28 campaign came on the heels of Coach Knight's first season where the Cardinals went 23-12 (.657) and advanced to the NCAA Championships.
"Starting a new season is the best feeling in the world," said head coach Pat Knight. "Some guys might get more excited if you're coming off a bad year, but to me it's the same no matter what season you had the year before. Every team is different and each year presents new challenges. That is what makes this job exciting. You're not guaranteed anything, it's a fresh start with new additions to the roster and new opponents. You start from scratch every year. Even when I was a player, the lead up to a new season, it's a great feeling."
Both teams were able to get at least one exhibition contest in before the start of the regular season. Lamar won its only exhibition contest against McMurry, while Butler posted exhibition wins over Nova Southeastern and DePauw.
The Cardinals have been a very successful team throughout their program's history at starting a new season. Lamar is 45-17 all-time in season-opening contests, but are only 9-10 (.474) when opening a new season on their opponents home floor. Lamar has won seven of the last eight season openers, with the lone loss during that stretch coming at Kansas State last season, but the Cards are headed to a venue where the Bulldogs have rattled of 14 consecutive home-opening wins.
Butler first-year head coach Brandon Miller will have his work cut out for him having to replace the team's top three scorers from last season, but if the two exhibition games are any indication, the Bulldogs won't have any problems scoring this season. The Bulldogs scorched the nets shooting 57 percent from the field, and nearly 53 percent from beyond the three-point line in the two games. Butler had three players finish the exhibition season in double-figures, led by sophomore Kellen Dunham who averaged just under 20 points per contest. A native of Pendleton Heights, Dunham hit double figures 18 times during his rookie season.
"You can't say enough good things about Butler," said Knight. "They have great shooters across the board - even their bigs can shoot the ball. They do a very good job of moving the ball around offensively, and they are very sound defensively. The key thing is they don't do things to hurt themselves. What they've been able to do the last 10 years speaks for itself. This is going to be a great experience for these guys."
The game against Butler is just one of several tough opponents Knight has scheduled prior to the start of the Southland schedule. The Cardinals will play games against opponents on both coasts, in all four time zones, and against four teams that advanced to the NCAA Championships last season.
"We have to play some bigger, better teams. We have to get these guys ready for conference play. The Southland Conference is tough, and doesn't receive the respect it deserves. You want to make the non-conference schedule tough so when the conference season arrives there is nothing that your kids haven't already seen."
Saturday's game against the Bulldog is slated to tip off at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central time) from Hinkle Fieldhouse. It will also be televised on Fox Sports 2.