BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Lees-McRae College men's basketball team will face a rigorous schedule this winter, squaring off against three NCAA Division I schools as well as some of the top talent Conference Carolinas and the NCAA Division II have to offer, announced head coach Steve Hardin Thursday.
With 13 talented newcomers and a veteran returning core, the Bobcats are primed to take the next step this season in Hardin's second year at the helm. Perhaps the biggest change this winter will come in the form of Hardin's new system FIRE, which stands for Fearless, Intense, Relentless, and Effort. In this system, the Bobcats will play an excited and up-tempo brand of basketball that will put constant pressure on their opponents.
"Our schedule will be extremely tough with three [NCAA] Division I games and such a high caliber of [NCAA] Division II teams," said Hardin. "We have a young and totally new team this year after losing 95 percent of our overall stats from last season. Building our culture and program before Christmas will be an extreme challenge. I will put our guys through the gauntlet early on, but I feel it will make us stronger and ready for the second half of the season with our always tough conference play."
Lees-McRae will open the season on Saturday, November 2 when the Bobcats travel to Greensboro, N.C. to take on the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in a preseason exhibition. The Bobcats' first regular season game will take place a week later on November 9 when they square off against perennial South Atlantic Conference power Catawba College at 8 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. matchup with Lenoir-Rhyne University on the Catawba campus the next day.
Following a November 13th tilt at Brevard College, the Bobcats will continue their road trip with back-to-back games at Livingstone College and Johnson C. Smith University on November 15 and 16. The Bobcats will then take the court against their closest geographical opponent in Appalachian State University on November 19 in the teams' annual exhibition contest.
Lees-McRae will host the Bobcat Classic on November 22 and 23, welcoming Francis Marion University, Bluefield State College, and conference foe North Greenville University to Williams Gymnasium for a two-day, four-game classic. The Bobcats will take on Francis Marion Friday night, followed by Bluefield State on Saturday afternoon to kick off their home schedule.
Following an early December trip to Carson-Newman College on December 2, the Bobcats will open their conference slate against King University on December 7 in Bristol, Tenn. The Bobcats then return home to take on NCAA Division III Emory and Henry College on December 10, followed by a trip to Montreat College in Montreat, N.C. on December 13 to close out the 2013 calendar year.
Lees-McRae will open 2014 with a January 3rd trip to High Point, N.C. to take on NCAA Division I High Point University before resuming its conference schedule at Belmont Abbey College the following day. The Bobcats then return to Williams Gymnasium for six of their next seven games, including matchups with Erskine College (Jan. 8), Pfeiffer University (Jan. 11), Barton College (Jan. 15), North Greenville (Jan. 18), King (Jan. 25), and Limestone College (Jan. 29).
After a short two-game road trip to Pfeiffer (Feb. 1) and Bluefield State (Feb. 3), the Bobcats will return home for a February 6 matchup with Warren Wilson College. The Bobcats then hit the road for three games, traveling to Erskine (Feb. 8), North Greenville (Feb. 12), and Barton (Feb. 15), before returning to Williams Gymnasium for a February 19 tilt with Mount Olive.
Lees-McRae will celebrate senior day on February 22 against Belmont Abbey before closing out the regular season with a February 25 trip to Limestone.
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The full schedule can be found here.