FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team will open the season at the 2011 Hilltop Challenge hosted by the University of San Francisco on November 11, highlighting a non-conference slate that includes games across the state of Arizona and a home BracketBuster game, Head Coach Mike Adras announced Tuesday.
"Once again I think it is a top-notch schedule for anyone playing in the western United States," said Adras. "We are playing really good teams in Arizona, Arizona State and BYU."
The Hilltop Challenge will include games against Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 11), San Francisco (Nov. 12) and North Dakota State (Nov. 13).
"We will get challenged right away with three games in three days," said Adras. "It is probably not the ideal way to start with such a young team. It is not proper preparation by throwing the youngsters into the fire. We will have to learn from game experience."
The Lumberjacks will open their home schedule in the Rolle Activity Center against Arizona Christian on Nov. 18 and host Northern New Mexico four days later on Nov. 22 before traveling to California to take on Loyola Marymount on Nov. 26. It marks the second consecutive season that the Lumberjacks will play their entire home schedule in the Rolle Activity Center.
NAU will play Brigham Young at Tim's Toyota Center on Nov. 30, marking the second consecutive season NAU has played a game in Prescott. The Lumberjacks will travel to Tucson three days later to take on the 2011 West Regional finalist Arizona Wildcats in McKale Center on Dec. 3.
NAU plays host to Pepperdine on Dec. 7 and CSU Bakersfield on Dec. 10 in a pair of return games from the 2010-11 season. The Lumberjacks will then travel to Arizona State (Dec. 17) and Sam Houston State (Dec. 20) before breaking for the holidays. The game with ASU will be the first game against the Sun Devils since the Lumberjacks posted a 75-71 victory in the 2006-07 season.
"We are playing everywhere in the state this year with games in Flagstaff, Prescott, Tempe and Tucson," said Adras. "If that does not qualify us as Arizona's team, I do not know what does."
NAU opens Big Sky Conference play Dec. 29 at home against Sacramento State before taking on defending champion Northern Colorado on New Year's Eve in Greeley. The Lumberjacks will also host an ESPN BracketBuster game on Feb. 18 with the opponent to be announced.
All 29 regular season contests will be broadcast on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona. NAU-TV is also scheduled to televise several games this season from Rolle. The full television schedule will be announced on nauathletics.com.
Adras returns three starters in 2011-12. Rising junior Gabe Rogers was named to the All-Big Sky second team, finishing the season as the fifth-best three-point shooter in the country by percentage in 2010-11. Rogers shot 46.8 percent beyond the arc, while hitting 82 three pointer and scoring 13.1 points per game.
The Lumberjacks will open the season with an exhibition contest on Nov. 2 against Western New Mexico at 6:35 p.m. Admission will be free for the exhibition contest.
Ticket information for the BYU game in Prescott and season and individual game ticket information will be announced at a later date.
2011-12 Northern Arizona Men's Basketball Schedule (All times MST)
November – 2 Western New Mexico (EX) 6:35 p.m.; 11-13 (Hilltop Challenge hosted by San Francisco; 11 vs. UL-Lafayette# 9:30 p.m.; 12 at San Francisco# 7:00 p.m.; N13 vs. North Dakota State# 2:00 p.m.; 18 Arizona Christian 6:35 p.m.; 22 Northern New Mexico 6:35 p.m.; 26 at Loyola Marymount TBA; 30 BYU^ Prescott, Ariz.; December – 3 at Arizona TBA; 7 Pepperdine 6:35 p.m.; 10 CS-Bakersfield 6:35 p.m., 17 at Arizona State TBA; 20 at Sam Houston State TBA; 29 Sacramento State* 6:35 p.m.; 31 at Northern Colorado* 7:35 p.m.; January - 5 at Portland State* 8:05 p.m.; 7 at Eastern Washington* 7:05 p.m.; 12 Montana* 6:35 p.m.; 14 Montana State* 6:35 p.m.; 19 at Weber State* 7:05 p.m.; 21 at Idaho State* 7:05 p.m.; 28 at Sacramento State* 8:05 p.m.; 30 N. Colorado* 6:35 p.m., February – 2 E. Washington* 6:35 p.m.; 4 Portland State* 6:35 p.m.; 9 Weber State* 6:35 p.m.; 11 Idaho State* 6:35 p.m.; 18 Bracketbusters 6:35 p.m.; 23 at Montana* TBA; 27 at Montana State* TBA.