Lady Demons announce 2021-22 schedule

A mix of old and new constitute the 2021-22 Northwestern State women’s basketball schedule, presented by McDonald’s.

The Lady Demons and head coach Anna Nimz are set to embark on their first full slate of games after a shortened schedule a season ago. The 29-game schedule is nearly split evenly between nonconference matchups (15) and the seven Southland Conference home-and-home series.

The non-conference schedule pits NSU against familiar Pelican State foes like Grambling (Nov. 17), Louisiana College (Nov. 19) and ULM (Dec. 15), but also features five first-time meetings during the first two months of the season.

The first four games of the year have plenty of local flavor all taking place in Louisiana with three of the four in Natchitoches. The Lady Demons open the year with consecutive home games against Centenary (Nov. 9) and Texas A&M-Texarkana (Nov. 13). The lone road trip during that stretch takes NSU to Grambling on Nov. 17.

“I’m excited about the beginning of our season,” said Nimz, who enters her second year with NSU. “I think we have a lot of very competitive games and we’re bringing in some teams that are going to push us but also allow us to get used to each other. The first couple of games are going to be paramount to our success leading into that first big road trip.

“We are going to need a game or two to really understand how each other plays and plays off of one another. There’s a difference between when the ball goes up and what they do in practice. Those first three or four games are going to give us an opportunity to get a little more comfortable and learn game speed.”

The Lady Demons then make their first of two treks to the state of Kansas on the year beginning with a three-game swing that starts with Kansas State (Nov. 27) and Wichita State (Nov. 29), and ends at Arkansas State (Dec. 2). All three games serve as the first meetings between the schools in program history.

Another first-time meeting takes place at the end of December as the Lady Demons make a return trip to take on the Jayhawks of Kansas (Dec. 28) in historic Allen Fieldhouse.

“As a Kansas girl, there is something very special about playing KU at Allen Fieldhouse,” Nimz said. “The original rules of basketball are held on their campus so going there a day early not just to practice but to experience that as well will be special. I think it’s important for the girls to know the history of what we’re playing and not just play the game.”

While the dual trips to the Sunflower State serve as good competition for the team, it also gives Nimz and her staff a chance to show first-hand the importance of family.

“We talk a lot about family in our program and I think it’ll be neat for the girls to see that in action,” Nimz said. “We’re going to be able to see some of our families and the girls will get to see that we practice what we preach in that regard. I’ve spent my entire adult life away from home so it fills my heart to know that when I look into the stands at KU, K-State and Wichita State that I will likely have 20 or more people there.”

The Lady Demons will celebrate the new year in Natchitoches and immediately hit the road for Katy and the first SLC Preseason Tournament set for Jan. 3-5 at the Merrell Center. Each conference team is set to play three games in three days serving to jump-start league play 10 days later.

“The preseason tournament allows for the conference to do something that, most if not all conferences, are no longer doing,” Nimz said. “It’s created a lot of excitement in the past in some of those other conferences both for the players and the fans. It allows us to get that tournament feel and a chance to see what we’re working for all season.”

After a quick non-conference finale with Champion Christian (Jan. 12), the Lady Demons play their first three SLC games on the road at Southeastern (Jan. 15), Nicholls (Jan. 20) and New Orleans (Jan. 22).

Back-to-back home games follow bringing UIW (Jan. 27) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Jan. 29) to town to cap the first month of the new year. Trips to HBU and McNeese the first weekend of February close the first run through the conference slate. The Huskies and Cowgirls make their way to Natchitoches the second weekend to begin the back end of the league schedule.

“The ability to play each of our conference opponents twice is only going to help prepare us for the end goal that is Katy,” Nimz said. “I also think changing the games to a Thursday-Saturday schedule is going to improve fan experience. Doubleheaders with our men’s team allows the fans to come and support, and I think we’ll see a growth in attendance.”

The Lady Demons close the season with three straight home conference games against Nicholls (Feb. 24), UNO (Feb. 26) and SLU (March 5).

“From top to bottom I think we have incredibly competitive games set up for this team, which will be largely brand new,” Nimz said. “We have some games that are going to allow us to grow as a program and some games against elite level basketball teams that will push us to be our very best. Those games where we’re more evenly matched are going to force us to elevate our game to win.”

Graphic: Brad Welborn