FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With finals and the fall semester behind them, the Northern Arizona University men's basketball team begins play in its second week under the direction of Interim Head Coach Dave Brown with their first road test at Arizona State on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m.
The Lumberjacks are coming off an 80-67 win over CSU Bakersfield last Saturday and have had a good week of practice between final exams.
"We had a lot of good feelings about what we were doing," said Interim Head Coach Dave Brown. "They got a lot of basketball up and down. There was not a lot of talking. I am not changing a lot."
Brown and his players are looking forward to the two-game road trip starting with the Sun Devils Saturday that continues with a game at Sam Houston State on Tuesday. The six-day trip will allow the players and coaches to adapt to the new situation.
"I have always been a big believer in going on the road," said Brown after practice Wednesday. "There is a certain dynamic that happens between coaches and players. It is a completely different environment. It is hostile so you have to be together. It is not going to be without its adversities and challenges. It will be interesting to see how we all work together to handle those."
NAU will face an Arizona State team that is 4-5 after a 60-57 win over North Dakota State Saturday, one of two common opponents with the Lumberjacks (Pepperdine). They have not won back-to-back games this season. Herb Sendek's Devils have three players scoring in double figures led by Trent Lockett at 14.2 points per game.
"I want them to beat ASU," said Brown. "I think it would do a lot for the program. There is nothing like wins. It is what it is all about. That is our goal. If we fall short, then we need to do a better job of coaching and working together."
NAU is 0-6 away from Flagstaff this season including three true road games and three neutral contests. In the six losses NAU is averaging 57.4 points, shooting 36 percent and averaging 18.6 turnovers in road games.
"Working strictly on basketball when you do not have any outside stress, it helps a lot," said junior guard Stallon Saldivar. "It is our primary focus. During school, you are a student-athlete. It is important for us to get a lot better during the winter break. Everything we do is for conference and that is what we are looking forward to."
The Lumberjacks have played ASU a school-best 136 times with the Sun Devils holding a 76-60 advantage in the series between former Border Conference rivals. NAU was in the Border Conference from 1933-53. NAU defeated the Sun Devils in the last meeting during the 2006-07.
"We are going to play our game like we did against Bakersfield," said Saldivar.
The game can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in northern Arizona and is available online via The Big Talker mobile app and their website. Fox Sports Arizona will televise the contest from the Wells Fargo Arena.