The men’s basketball season begins Saturday against the Duquesne Dukes in Pittsburgh, PA. The Wildcats own arguably one of the toughest schedules in the Southland Conference, and maybe even the toughest start to the year as they play nearly their first month of basketball on the road away from Moody Coliseum.
“I am excited for the challenge and I look forward to seeing how our team will respond and grow together as we fight and compete on the road,” sophomore guard Parker Wentz said. “I think the hardest part will be turning the page. Whether we play good in one game and win or poor in another and loose, we have to leave that behind us and focus on the next opponent.”
ACU will play its first ten games of the season on the road. The team will travel to Olean, NY to play St. Bonaventure University, after facing the Dukes. From then, the Wildcats will take on the University of Maryland on Nov. 13. The team temporarily ends its out of state travel after their game in Iowa City, IA against the University of Iowa.
“The hardest part we’re going to have to face is probably just handling the atmosphere at away games and just keeping our composure and maintaining focus throughout our games,” junior guard Julian Edmonson said. “These are all going to be tough teams and having them be away games are going to get us ready for conference. We’re kind of being thrown into the fire a little bit to get us prepared for what we will be up against come January. I have confidence that we’ll be fine.”
The Wildcats return back to Texas briefly on Nov. 19 with a game in Fort Worth against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs. The team will then travel to San Angelo for two games against Western New Mexico University and Northern New Mexico College. After that, the team is out of state again with a game against Xavier in Cincinnati, OH. ACU finally rounds out its road trip with two games in Maryland on Nov. 29 and 30.
“Defense is going to be a huge part of our winning this year,” junior forward Aleksander Milosavljevic said. “We are going to have to go onto other teams’ courts, play great defense and hopefully we’ll be on the winning side. It’ll be really important, crucial to play our style of basketball, even when we’re on the road.”
After the ten game road trip, the Wildcats will have traveled 6,767 miles over the course of three weeks. The teams ACU will face on the trip have a .489 winning percentage based off of last year’s schedules.
“Every one of these teams will come out and play hard and we’re going to have to make sure we do the same,” Parker said. “Being in Div. I, we don’t know these teams like the Lonestar, but even if we did, each team is a really good team and especially facing them on the road, they’ll be that much harder.”
ACU returns home to Moody Coliseum on Dec. 3 to face Hillsdale Baptist. The Wildcats will play eight of their next ten games at home spanning from December through January.
“It is vital for us to do good during our home games,” Edmonson said. “In Div. I basketball, it is hard to get a win away in any gym because you have all the disadvantages. But when we come back home we have to make sure nobody comes in our house and leave with a win.”