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Date Posted: 11:42:00 08/23/03 Sat
Author: Starter
Subject: Basketball Schedules Released

Head coaches Leslie Crane and Derek Thomas enthusiastic for upcoming campaigns
August 22, 2003
by Shana Daniels

Men's Schedule | Women's Schedule

MACOMB, Ill. - The Western Illinois University men’s and women’s basketball teams announced their 2003-04 schedules today, and both include games against Big Ten and Big 12 opponents.

After leading Western to its first Mid-Continent Conference Championship since 1995, women’s basketball head coach and 2002-03 Mid-Con Coach of the Year Leslie Crane will take her squad on the road for the first six games of the season, opening at perennial Top 25 Kansas State on November 21 in Manhattan. After rounding out the month of November at Cleveland State (Nov. 25) and Northern Illinois (Nov. 29), Western heads to Madison for a December 1 meeting with Wisconsin. Western Illinois battles the Big 12 for a second time, along with the Western Athletic Conference and the Southland in the Cowgirl Classic hosted by Oklahoma State December 5-6 in Stillwater. The women play Fresno State December 5 in the first round of its second Big 12 hosted tournament in two years.

“Once again, we’ve put together a tough schedule,” said Crane. “Our program is in a position where we need to take a bigger step in getting into the national spotlight and that is what we’ve done by putting Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Western Kentucky on our non-conference schedule. Playing these types of teams will definitely better prepare us for the always tough Mid-Con race.”

Western opens the home schedule December 14 with Rockford College in the Hall before a pair of re-matches with Missouri Valley foes Bradley and Indiana State December 18 and 20. Western Illinois faces its second Big Ten opponent of season December 22 at Indiana and completes the home-and-home series with Western Kentucky in Bowling Green December 29 before opening Mid-Con play at IUPUI January 3.

Men’s basketball head coach Derek Thomas opens his first campaign at Western with eight of the first nine games on the road. The men begin the season in the first round of the Guardians Classic in Springfield, Mo., November 17-18. After visiting Big Ten power Illinois November 22, Western heads to Kansas City for the second round of the Guardians Classic November 24-25. On November 26, the men take on UNLV in Las Vegas and wrap up the first road leg of the year at Wisconsin-Green Bay November 29. Western Illinois plays its first home game of the season December 2 against Drake before heading back out to take on its second Big Ten opponent of the year December 6 at Minnesota.

“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Thomas. “We feel that we have a schedule that will challenge our players and get them ready for conference play. Our players will get exposed to all different kinds of styles of play this year.”

Western is set to host Wisconsin-Green Bay, Norfolk State and cross-state rival Eastern Illinois between December 14 and 20 before opening Mid-Con play at IUPUI on January 3.

“We will be prepared to play against anyone,” Thomas continued. “Hopefully it will help us get ready for the conference tournament. I want to play the best schedule we can possibly handle. This will show recruits that we are serious about raising the bar here.”

Both squads will head back to Kansas City for the 2003-04 Mid-Con Tournament March 6-9 at Kemper Arena.

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