LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The McNeese Cowboys are 0-2 to open Southland Conference play for the second consecutive year, although the coaching staff is confident they can turn the ship around as they did a year ago. In 2020, McNeese started 0-3 in SLC play before reeling off seven straight wins en route to finishing 10-10 in league play.
“I’ve been coaching Division I basketball and college basketball for 27 years. I have seen a lot and been around a long time. Right now, the biggest thing we must do is take a deep breath and relax,” said McNeese coach Heath Schroyer. “The sky isn’t falling.”
That’s the mentality moving forward on the hardwood for the Pokes as the team is still without a Division I win in five tries.
Through 11 games this season, the Cowboys have struggled with injuries and COVID protocol. McNeese was once again without key contributors on Saturday vs. NSU as Braelon Bush, Collin Warren and Chris Orlina all sat. Although McNeese is hopeful Warren and Bush will be available Wednesday vs. UIW, but Orlina is out for four-to-five weeks with a broken finger.
The team’s leading rebounder KeyShawn Feazell did return after missing three games due to COVID, leading the team with 22 points on Saturday.
Schroyer is hopeful to see the team’s potential once the Cowboys are back to full strength.
“I’m not panicked at all. We have a good team once we get everyone back on the floor and moving in one direction. When you’re in a one-bid league it comes down to the final weeks of the season. We’re going through a lot right now with COVID protocols and missing a lot of guys, but I think what we need to do right now is continue to get better and stay positive and know that we’re going to be playing our best basketball come the end of the season.”
The Cowboys get back to play Wednesday, as they travel to San Antonio matching up against UIW. While the Cardinals won their last meeting, McNeese holds a 6-2 advantage over the last eight games.
“Sometimes it’s good to be on the road. For us, getting on a bus, getting away from here and all the noise and trying to come together even more,” said Schroyer. “I think could be really good for us.”
Meanwhile, the start of league play for the McNeese Cowgirls is going differently as they’re off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the 2017-18 season. The Cowgirls defense has stood out allowing 46 points a game in Southland play with a combined 53 forced turnovers.
“I think we’re competing really well,” admitted head coach Kacie Cryer, “we’re playing with a little swag and toughness to us and it’s good to see.”
The Cowgirls don’t take the court again until Saturday when both McNeese teams are in New Orleans for their doubleheader with UNO.