NATCHITOCHES -- Fans can get their first look at the 2011-12 Northwestern State basketball team Wednesday night at 7 in refurbished Prather Coliseum when the Demons play Ouachita Baptist in an exhibition game following NSU's Season Ticket Pick-up Party with free food and refreshments starting at 5:30.
There is no admission charge for exhibition basketball games at NSU. The Demons, 18-14 last year with a second-place finish in the Southland Conference, return the 2010-11 NCAA shot blocking champion, senior center William Mosley, among eight letterwinners back from last season. There are seven newcomers, including five scholarship signees, on hand.
Ouachita Baptist is led by new coach Dennis Nutt, formerly head coach at Arkansas State. The Tigers are picked for sixth place in the new Great America Conference in Division II. Polls will be released Wednesday for the Southland Conference race in 2011-12.
Fans who have renewed or purchased season tickets can pick up those tickets before the game, while anyone interested in getting tickets can review potential seat locations. New courtside seats are nearly sold out, with a few vacancies available, said interim ticket manager Kyle Barnard. The Demons open the regular season Nov. 11 at home against LeTourneau, the first of 28 homecourt appearances for the NSU men and women this season.
The Demons will compete on the new floor at Prather Coliseum for the first time Wednesday night with 13th-year coach Mike McConathy focusing on whether his team can sustain intense effort throughout the game.
"We'd like to see how we've progressed to this point of preseason. Good to play against someone different and what we know will be a well-coached team," he said. "We have lots of areas to improve upon but the biggest thing is we have to prove we can play as hard as we possibly can, for 40 minutes. If we compete well, the rest of it takes care of itself."
McConathy said three veterans have set the tone since NSU began team workouts Oct. 14.
"Will Mosley has been good, as we knew he would, and the best thing is that he's been more aggressive offensively. Louis Ellis has done some good things. Shamir Davis at point guard has competed hard," he said.
Among the newcomers, Natchitoches Central product Gary Roberson has stood out after transferring from Jacksonville Junior College.
"Gary Roberson has been very good. (Missouri State-West Plains CC transfer) Demetrice Jacobs is going to be fine, but he's going to need some time to learn our system, where Gary played in one at Natchitoches Central under coach Micah Coleman that is along the lines of what we do, so there's not been the learning curve for him to negotiate," said McConathy.
Sophomore guard Tyler Washington won't play against OBU due to injury while freshman signee Jalan West is still awaiting approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse to begin practice.