The Missouri State University women’s basketball team will kick off the 2008-09 season with a formidable non-conference schedule that includes contests against four teams that appeared in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The 2008-09 Lady Bears will play two exhibition contests in Hammons Student Center and a total of 14 regular-season home games in JQH Arena.
Including Missouri Valley Conference games, Missouri State will play a total of 15 regular-season contests against clubs that earned post-season bids last year. MSU’s schedule features potential match-ups against NCAA participants Chattanooga, DePaul, Oral Roberts, Western Kentucky and reigning MVC champion Illinois State, as well as games with six programs that earned WNIT bids in 2007-08. Additionally, the Lady Bears will return to Cancun, Mexico, to participate in the Caribbean Classic to cap the non-conference season.
"It’s a tough non-conference schedule," MSU head coach Nyla Milleson said. "On one hand, we’ll be going into the season with some players who went up against the same calibre of teams last year, who know the system and what it takes to be successful against this kind of competition. On the other hand, we’ll have six newcomers who will be expected to come in and play key roles right away, so we’ll be battle-tested by the time the conference season rolls around."
After exhibition games against Southwestern Oklahoma (Nov. 1) and Arkansas Tech (Nov. 9), the Lady Bears will open their 40th season with a Nov. 14 road tilt against Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The Redhawks are coming off a 23-9 campaign that saw them capture the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship and a bid to the postseason WNIT. From there, MSU will make the short trip down I-44 to Tulsa to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Nov. 19.
One of the highlights of the 2008-09 season will surely be the unveiling of MSU’s state-of-the-art $67 million basketball facility, JQH Arena, which will open with a Nov. 23 contest against Arkansas State.
"The new arena will certainly bring a lot of excitement and pride to our team, but it doesn’t guarantee anything," stated Milleson. "We still have to come in every day and put in the effort that it takes to be successful. But hopefully the new arena will bring a level of excitement that will help us continue the home-court tradition that’s been such a big part of this program."
Next up, the Lady Bears will play host to an Oral Roberts (Nov. 26) squad that returns virtually everyone from its NCAA Tourney team from a year ago, then close out the month of November with a road game at Saint Louis (Nov. 29). SLU will also break in a new arena this season, and MSU will look to resume its dominance of a series that saw the Lady Bears win eight straight contests and 11 of the first 12 meetings between the two schools prior to the Billikens’ 69-51 win in Springfield last December.
The Lady Bears will kick off a busy month of December with a mid-week trip to the state of Wisconsin, where they will tackle perennial Horizon League power Green Bay in one of the nation’s toughest road venues. The Phoenix went 17-1 in league play last year to win the regular-season crown, but fell in the conference’s post-season tournament and was left out of the NCAA’s field of 64. Green Bay boasts an all-time home winning percentage of .805 after going 15-1 in 2007-08 in its first season playing in Kress Center.
The road doesn’t get any less difficult for Missouri State, as the Green Bay game marks the beginning of an 11-day stretch in which the Lady Bears will face off against four teams that made post-season appearances in 2007-08. Western Kentucky (Dec. 7) will pay JQH a visit on Dec. 7, fresh off of a 26-8 season that saw the Lady Toppers win the Sun Belt East Division title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. Another tournament team from last year, Big East power DePaul (Dec. 10), returns to Springfield after claiming wins over the Lady Bears in each of the past three seasons. Finally, UALR (Dec. 14) will close out the home portion of the non-conference schedule after posting a breakthrough 23-9 season last year that included the Trojans’ first-ever post-season appearance in the WNIT.
To put the finishing touches on the non-conference season, Missouri State will return to the Yucatan Peninsula where it will play two games against a Caribbean Classic (Dec. 19-20) pool that includes San Francisco, Stephen F. Austin and a Chattanooga team that reeled off 24 consecutive wins last year before falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Kansas State.
Story courtesy of Missouri State media relations