OK, so there will still be pizza served at the concession stands (breakfast pizza perhaps?), but USI will play a men’s basketball exhibition game on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Harris-Stowe State, an NAIA school out of St. Louis, will be the opponent. Tipoff is 11 a.m. Yes, that’s not a typo. USI coach Rodney Watson, though, has gotten fully into the spirit of the pre-noon contest and is inviting schools — in particular, elementary schools, nursery schools, kindergarten classes, just about any place that looks after little kids while their parents are at work — to the Physical Activities Center to watch the Screaming Eagles.
Actually, the main reason for this game is Watson’s strong dislike of long layoffs between contests. USI plays two regular-season games on back-to-back days Dec. 14 and 15 at the Fern Valley Hotel Classic at Bellarmine University in Louisville, then doesn’t play another game until Dec. 29, a home matchup against Cedarville University out of Ohio. I’ve written about this before, but the culprit is the NCAA and its desire to give student-athletes more time to themselves. To do that, it lopped two games off Division II teams’ schedules. That, in turn, left yawning gaps between games. USI is coming off one of those on Saturday, a two-week layoff that Watson hasn’t minded quite as much because final exams began this week.
Anyway, Harris-Stowe right now is 1-6, if anybody cares, and the Eagles have usually beaten them like a drum (USI won 73-46 last year and 105-76 two years ago), which might explain why it’s an exhibition rather than a game that counts in the official record. But it’s a game rather than an intrasquad scrimmage, which Watson believes would do his team absolutely no good.