CHENEY - The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team will play its first six games away from home, but then will play five of six in an improved Reese Court setting, as the Eagles announced recently their 2012-13 schedule.
Led by second-year head coach Jim Hayford, EWU opens the season Nov. 10 at Washington State, but won’t play at home until Nov. 30 when Cal State Fullerton visits. After non-conference home games versus Idaho (Dec. 6) and Seattle (Dec. 10), as well as a non-league game at UC Davis (Dec. 17), Eastern opens its Big Sky Conference schedule at home before Christmas versus Weber State (Dec. 20) and Idaho State (Dec. 22).
Eastern will play its home games for the 38th season at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. But last spring new premium seating was added on the scorer’s table/team benches side, and the existing wooden bleachers were moved to the ends of the court. In addition, a new video board will be added to the existing scoreboard at Reese Court this fall.
Although the Eagles officially don’t open at home until Nov. 30, they will host an exhibition game versus Concordia (Oregon) on Sunday, Nov. 4 at approximately 3:30 p.m. at Reese Court, following an exhibition game for the Eastern women’s squad.
In all, Eastern’s 2012-13 schedule includes 10 games versus eight schools who participated in national postseason tournaments a year ago. Eastern will play six games against those opponents on the road, and four games at home.
Two appeared in the NCAA Tournament – Saint Mary’s (Nov. 18 on the road) and Montana (Jan. 3 on the road and Feb. 2 at home). Washington State (Nov. 10 on the road) played in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament, and lost to Pittsburgh 89-69 in the championship game.
The other five postseason opponents on EWU’s schedule were all in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT). Weber State (Dec. 20 at home and March 9 on the road), Idaho (Dec. 6 at home) and South Carolina Upstate (Nov. 21 on the road) advanced to the second round. Utah Valley (Nov. 20 on the road) and Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 30 at home) played in the first round.
Eastern’s games versus Washington State, Utah Valley, South Carolina Upstate and Santa Clara are all part of the 2012 College Basketball Experience (CBE) Hall of Fame Classic. The WSU game will take place in Pullman, Wash., and the other three will be played in Santa Clara, Calif., as part of the CBE Classic, which is hosted by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
The Eagles will also play at home in an ESPN BracketBusters game on Feb. 22 or 23. With the addition of North Dakota and Southern Utah into the Big Sky Conference, Eastern’s league slate will include 20 games for the first time.
The Big Sky Conference Tournament will take place March 14-16 at the site of the regular season champion. After being a six-team affair for most of its history, it will now include seven teams, with the regular season champion receiving a first-round bye. The tournament will include a quarterfinal round with six of the teams playing, followed by semifinals and the championship game.
After losing four seniors to graduation from his first Eastern team, Hayford’s 2012-13 squad will return two starters and four other returning letterwinners. His team also includes three players who redshirted last season – featuring a pair of NCAA Division I transfers – with six newcomers rounding out his squad.
Eastern finished 15-17 overall and was 8-8 in Big Sky Conference play to finish fourth, and the Eagles won their first Big Sky Conference Tournament game since 2006. Eastern improved by five victories from the year before, as the Eagles equaled their most wins since Eastern made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004.