Three exhibition games against NCAA Division I opponents, a pair of in-season tournaments and the usual 18-game Great Lakes Valley Conference schedule will tip off Chris Foster’s coaching career at McKendree University.
The replacement for college basketball’s winningest coach learned as much with the release of the Bearcats schedule Wednesday.
Foster is McKendree’s first new head coach since 1966, when Harry Statham embarked on a legendary career that saw the program win a record 1,122 games. Statham was removed from the job by McKendree administration on March 5 of this year, then made it clear with a blistering social media post that leaving the bench was not his idea.
Foster, who guided the Truman State Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II Tournament and to the championship game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, was hired just weeks later.
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With the release of his first schedule, Foster said he’s anticipating his first season on the McKendree sidelines and looks forward what lies ahead for his Bearcats.
“Our non-conference schedule is designed to be difficult as it will help prepare us for the challenges that are presented in Great Lakes Valley Conference play,” he said. “This is an exciting time for our basketball program as prepare for the upcoming season.
“We look forward to seeing all of our fans at our home opener on Nov. 20 and throughout the 2018-19 season.”
Foster will take the Bearcats onto the court for the first time on Friday, Nov. 2 in exhibition play against Northwestern. It will be the second time in five seasons the two schools have met. McKendree also visited Evanston for a preseason contest prior to the start of the 2014-15 campaign.
After the trip to Northwestern, McKendree will officially begin its 2018-19 season Nov. 10-11 with two games at the GLVC/GLIAC Crossover Challenge in Marquette, Michigan. The Bearcats will first square off against host Northern Michigan University on Friday, Nov. 10 before taking on Michigan Tech a day later.
McKendree’s second Division I exhibition match-up will follow a few days later on Wednesday, Nov. 14 with a visit to Indiana State University. It will be the Bearcats’ first contest against the Sycamores since becoming full NCAA Division II members prior to the 2013-14 season.
The home opener and Foster’s McKendree debut at the Harry M. Statham Sports Center follows on Tuesday, Nov. 20 with a non-conference game against Union University Conference play opens Nov. 29 at University of Missouri-St. Louis.
The Bearcats will close out December with five straight non-conference games, including a trip to Quincy for the QU Subway Holiday Classic Dec. 15-16 hosted by Quincy University. McKendree will face Grand Valley State University before taking on Lincoln University.
The eight-team Tournament, which will be held once again at the Vadalabene Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, will be held March 7-10.