BARTLESVILLE, OKLA. – The Oklahoma Wesleyan University men’s basketball team faces a schedule packed with some of the nation’s best competition during the upcoming season.
The Eagles are coming off a 25-10 season, where they made another trip to the NAIA National Tournaments round of 16 last term. They open the 2014-15 campaign against Hillsdale College on Oct. 28 at home inside the friendly confines of the Mueller Sports Center.
“Our schedule is packed with tough teams and our home opener will be a tough one versus a very good Hillsdale College team,” new OKWU coach Mark Molder said.
“Hillsdale is always a tough team that has good guard play and athleticism at every position.”
On Nov. 1, the Eagles travel to Indiana Wesleyan University to take on last years defending national champion. Indiana Wesleyan finished the season as the top ranked team in the NAIA. IWU was also the team that defeated the Eagles in the sweet sixteen on their way to lifting the title last season
“They are a very good team. They have a great coach and have a team that is talented and knows how to win at a high level,” Molder said. “Traveling to their home court will be a great test for our team early in the season.”
Seven of OKWU’s opponents recorded 20 or more wins last season, with two exhibition games coming against NCAA D2 teams.
The non-conference schedule features four two-day tournaments; the IWU Classic on Oct 31 and Nov. 1, the OKWU Classic on Nov. 14-15, the Sterling Classic on Nov. 21– 22, and the Bellevue Classic on Dec. 29-30.
In the IWU Classic, OKWU will face IU East and follow that game up with an early rematch of last year’s NAIA National Tournament against Indiana Wesleyan.
The OKWU Classic will pair the Eagles against Kansas Wesleyan University and Bacone College. The Sterling Classic will have the Eagles facing Tabor College and Sterling College, while the Bellevue Classic will see the Molder coached side battling with Hastings College and Dakota State.
“Our non-conference schedule is one of the toughest I can recall in my time at OKWU,” Molder said.
“We will play against some of the top NAIA talent and do so on the road in most occasions. While the schedule is tough I think it prepares us well for conference.”
Two exhibition games against NCAA D2 teams loom large on the schedule, as the Eagles will travel to Angelo State University on Nov.25 and Dallas Baptist University on Dec. 3.
“These two NCAA schools are a load and do a nice job each year. They are very talented and both coaches do a great job,” Molder said. “It will be a great opportunity to see how we stack up against that level of competition.”
Thirteen home games are on the schedule for the Eagles who were 13-2 at the Mueller Sports Center last season.
Besides the grueling non-conference schedule, two national tournament teams are on the calendar for the Eagles during the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) season, which begins Jan. 16 in a home game with Central Baptist College at the Mueller Sports Center.
The MCAC produced three national tournament teams in Oklahoma Wesleyan, Bellevue, and College of the Ozarks last year and all three teams are expected to battle for an automatic place once again this coming season.
The Eagles finished in a tie with Bellevue University for the MCAC regular season conference championship, on its way to compiling an overall record of 25-10 and a conference record of 12-2.
“The MCAC conference is tough. It is arguably one of the toughest leagues in the Nation. You take the competition and the grueling travel into play and this league is very tough,” Molder said.
“I fill this is a big reason for the need to play a tough non-conference schedule. It’s our hope to be prepared for the test of the MCAC by the time conference play rolls around.”
You can follow all the Eagles updates at http://www.okwu.edu/athletics, with the athletics programs looking forward to another successful season.