For the next few weeks, we'll be scrutinizing over the schedules announced by the various Summit League schools. Generally, they'll appear in alphabetical order with an array of thoughts on the teams and their opponents. The general idea behind this comes from a similar feature on RushTheCourt.net, where writer Zach Hayes kindly encouraged us to adopt some pieces of the format for use here, though you'll find plenty of Summit League flair in the words below.
General Theme: What sticks out most about the Centenary men's basketball schedule for 2010-11 are the road games. This is typical of teams at this level, though Centenary has it particularly rough this season. The team has just two non-conference home games, and the real kicker is that they have to return those games this season. The Gents first game of the season is at Memphis which probably will not end very well, nor will very many other games. Despite some hope around the blogosphere, Centenary is going to have a very, very long season.
Travel At A Glance: Although many of the team's games are on the road, most of them are close enough to Louisiana that the school won't have to shell out too much money on travel. The only trip that will kill their travel budget comes at the end of the non-conference season when the Gents make their way to Milwaukee to face Marquette followed two days later by venturing out to Wyoming to face the state's namesake. That trip will not be fun.
Easiest Game: Every single game will be incredibly challenging for Centenary this season. The new coach may find some hard workers to fill out his squad in 2010-11, but these guys just won't be Division I talents.
Toughest Game: Playing Marquette at the Bradley Center in mid-December will be brutal for Centenary. MU is bound to be rolling by that time, ready to give the Gents a drubbing.
Most Likely Upset: Sticking with the prevailing theme, any win for Centenary could be considered an upset this season. Even a Division II team like Arkansas-Monticello will play hard against Centenary, especially since they take them on twice.
Most Challenging Non-Conference Stretch: @Marquette on December 18 followed by @Wyoming two days later on the 20th. The Gents play a Louisiana-Monroe they beat last season but this time it's in Monroe, and Centenary's roster has been completely overhauled since 2009-10. This stretch of games will certainly take a lot out of the Shreveport-based team.
Most Challenging Conference Stretch: @Oral Roberts on 1/22, @IPFW on 1/27, and @Oakland on 1/29. Oral Roberts projects to be in the upper echelon of The Summit League this season, as usual. Going on the road to beat them will be nearly impossible, and followed by two games in the far north against an improving IPFW squad and the reigning champs in Oakland U. Did I mention all of these games are on the road?
Best Individual Match-Up: Centenary has lost a lot of players since announcing its transition to Division III athletics, therefore we'll know more about the team's personnel once the season starts. While they did just announce the last four additions to the team, the only familiar name this season will be junior Maxx Nakwaasah.
Most Anticipated Home Game: This has to go to the team's last game of the season at the Gold Dome against IUPUI. The match-up will be the Gents' last as a Summit League team, so one can only hope the arena there will be packed with supporters. A win would be an amazing way for the school to leave the conference, especially against a strong team in IUPUI.
Concluding Thoughts: We're not in the business of making any firm predictions here, though it's probably safe to say that Centenary will struggle mightily this season. A last place finish in The Summit League would not surprise anyone. Hopefully the Gents can keep their confidence and composure through what will be a long season against a lot of quality competition.