2010-2011 WKU men’s basketball schedule released

2010-2011 WKU men's basketball schedule released

Jonathan Lintner

The 2010-2011 WKU men’s basketball schedule was released on Tuesday, and while the clutter of last season is missing, the non-conference strength remains.

WKU’s non-conference slate is highlighted by the Puerto Rico Top-Off, which begins Nov. 18 against Minnesota and guarantees a second-round game. Other non-conference opponents include St. John’s, Alabama A&M, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Bowling Green State, Southern Illinois, Murray State, Louisville and Florida Gulf Coast.

“We stayed with a philosophy that I believe in in terms of getting a term easy for March,” said Head Coach Ken McDonald. “As you look at your team, you have to look at what you can handle. It’s a challenging schedule. You might get down about it, but at the end of the day, it’s about how you’re playing in March.”

WKU will face its regular Sun Belt Conference opponents and plays Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and South Alabama twice — once at home and on the road.

McDonald said the Toppers’ Southern Illinois game is part of a four-game home-and-home series, and the Bowling Green State game is part of a two-game series. This season marks the end of a series with Murray State and Vanderbilt, and Memphis is a one-game deal.

McDonald said scheduling — which stretched even up until this week — wasn’t as easy as it was before the Toppers beat Louisville two seasons ago and Vanderbilt and Mississippi State last season. This past summer, McDonald said everyone had a “pokerface” on.

“(It used to be) just a lot of friends putting their hand up and wanting to play,” McDonald said. “Teams start to take a look and make sure they’re not putting themselves in a position to get beat.”

The South Carolina game at Diddle Arena is scheduled for the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Louisville comes to Diddle the first Wednesday that students will be home for winter break.

“I think that Louisville game could potentially be the highest-profile game since Louisville was in here 20 years before,” McDonald said. “You hope the students are going to come back for the night and enjoy what should be an incredible basketball environment.”

WKU’s exhibition against Campbellsville will be played at 3 p.m. on Halloween, and the team travels to Arkansas State on New Years Day.

The Toppers also have a non-conference game against Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.

The Sun Belt Conference Tournament is scheduled for March 5-8.

WKU’s Feb. 12 game at North Texas will be broadcast on ESPN or ESPN, according to a university release. Information on season and single-game tickets will be announced at a later date.

When all is said and done, McDonald said he hopes this season’s squad is remembered for playing lockdown defense. The Toppers will have to, he said, in order to compete.

“We’re going to get back to playing defense the way we want to play defense — like my first year,” McDonald said. “I felt like we had a pretty good, tough defensive unit and mindset. We got away from that a little bit last year. I think we’re going to get back to that.”