By Jason Enes
I finally got my hands on the ISU men’s basketbal schedule earlier today and at first glance it appears to set up quite nice for the Bengals.
After the season opening road trip to Oklahoma and North Dakota, the Bengals get four of the next five at home. The only raod game in that stretch is this first ISU visit to New Mexico (and a chance for me to see former ISU SID Frank Mercogliano.)
For the second straight year the Bengals open the season in Reed Gym, with the season opener against Colorado Christian and two days later Loyola Marymount. The big game of the opening homestand is the return of Utah State to Pocatello for the first time since 2008.
The three home and homes with UND, Loyola and Wyoming are interesting and O’Brien told me Monday that the Wyoming and UND home and homes were planned and that the Loyola ones kind of fell in his lap. He jumpd at the chance at Loyola because it was an easy trip going to Los Angeles and Big Sky teams are having a difficult time scheduling home games.
The Wyoming series gives Chase Grabau to play against his little brother Riley who plays for the Cowboys.
There are only four ‘money games’ on the schedule this year, Bosie State, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Utah. That is the lowest total of money games in O’Brien’s five previous seasons. ISU won 5 non-conference games last season and this schedule gives the team the opportunity to surpass that total.
Big Sky play open Dec. 29 at Weber State and then open 2012 at Northern Colorado on Jan. 2. Twice during conferecne play ISU has a non-conference game, Jan. 9 at Wyoming and Feb. 18 an ESPN Bracketbuster game. O’Brien doesn’t really like going out of conference during Big Sky play, but had to fit the Wyoming game wherever he could. The bracketbuster game is a Big Sky commitment so it just has to be played.
The excitement O’Brien showed when talking about his team and the schedule it may be a different season for the Bengals. I can see a 15 win season assuming ISU wins some non-conference games (and hopefully more than one road game.)
But remember folks it’s only July 18 let’s look and the schedule and hope fopr the best. But as we all know until they play for real we can talk untill we are all blue in the face.