Demons set for home opener against Ouachita Baptist

The Northwestern State men’s basketball team spent a good portion of its offseason getting to know the local community. 

With 11 new players and an entirely reconstructed coaching staff, the Demons focused on building inroads in Natchitoches, staying engaged with their new locale.

Now it is the community’s chance to see the Demons in action for the first time as the Demons host Ouachita Baptist at 12 p.m. on Thursday in the first home game of the Corey Gipson era.

The game can be seen on ESPN+.

“Roundball Madness, if that’s any indication of what the gameday atmosphere will be like, we’re looking forward to it,” Gipson said. “The support was great, and we plan on continuing that tradition of having a gameday atmosphere our guys can be proud of and the community can be proud of.”

While the Demons (0-1) hope to put what they learned in Monday’s season-opening 73-49 loss at Texas Tech into action, they hope the gaggle of school-aged children who attend the game will do the same.

Ouachita Baptist also has faced a Big 12 Conference opponent, falling to Oklahoma State, 85-51, in a Nov. 3 exhibition game. The Tigers will play Thursday’s matchup as another exhibition.

Thursday’s game is labeled as an Education Day game, something Gipson and his staff have taken to heart.

The breezeways at Prather Coliseum will be set up where children can enjoy an educational experience before settling into their seats for the Demons’ first home game of the 2022-23 campaign.

“The Education Day game is something we got together as a staff and put our heads together on,” Gipson said. “They’ve been relentless in attacking the Education Day. We’re going to set it up like a science fair. We’ll have booths on each side of the corridor where they can learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math. They’ll be educated on some things that can help them later in life. Then we hope to give them a great gameday experience.”

As part of the Education Day theme, the Demon coaching staff is participating in the Fight for Literacy and will wear green ties, lapel pins and wristbands to raise awareness for literacy.

Along with corporate sponsor International Paper, a minimum donation of $10,000 will be made to local literacy programs that look to improve the reading comprehension level of local elementary school students. For more information on the program, visit http://www.coachingforliteracy.org.

Thursday’s game also will be the annual Super 1 Kids Day Game that will feature a kids dunk contest at halftime.

Gipson and his staff learned quite a bit about their roster in Monday night’s season opener at Texas Tech.

Newcomers Isaac Haney (16 points) and Ja’Monta Black (12) led the way offensively while point guards Greedy Williams and Demarcus Sharp combined for nine assists.

While Haney, Black and Sharp are experienced Division I transfers, Williams shined in his first collegiate game. In addition to his six assists, Williams added four points and four steals, helping the Demons win the turnover battled against the nationally ranked Red Raiders.

“It’s very impressive,” Gipson said of his point guards’ performances. “Those guys really work at valuing possession in practice. When we face pressure and physicality, we trust them with the ball. Their chemistry in the line of fire will get better.”

After facing a raucous atmosphere at Texas Tech’s United Supermarkets Arena in their opener, the Demons are hoping to see the same in Prather Coliseum, albeit with much more familiar faces in the seats.

“We did a lot of community work, so we’re expecting big crowds this season,” senior guard/forward Cedric Garrett said.

Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services