Shared from the 11/16/2018 American Press eEdition


Grand opening

Moment ‘long time coming’


McNeese State University

McNeese State University’s new Health and Human Performance Complex opens tonight when the Cowboys host Loyola in their new arena.


McNeese State University

McNeese State University’s new arena opens tonight.

While the McNeese men’s basketball team shot around before practice on Thursday, bodies hustled and bustled around them.

The Health and Human Performance Complex opens for the first time on Friday night when the Cowboys take on Loyola University New Orleans. Construction workers were putting the finishing touches on the arena. Event staff and other athletic department employees were looking to see where things go and how things will work in and around the arena.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys prepared to try and get their first win of the season. Graduate transfer center Malik Hines is excited about being the first McNeese team to play an official game in the H&HP Complex.

“It’s an exciting moment,” Hines said of playing in the new arena. “Long time coming. I remember just walking to weights every day, looking over here, wondering when we’re going to get in. When they made the announcement earlier this week, we was all happy as a unit. And we can’t wait to put on a show tomorrow.”

Hines — who transferred to McNeese from UMass — put up 26 points on the Cowboys’ seasonopening loss to St. Mary’s. That total was the most put up by a McNeese player in either of the team’s first two games. But, Hines followed that up by scoring one point in the loss to Arizona State.

Despite the two losses, Hines believes that the two road games against quality opponents to start the season were good for the team to build chemistry and also to prepare for if the Cowboys make it to a postseason tournament.

“It taught us how to handle ourselves with adversity,” Hines said. “Can’t play every game at home, you got to go on the road and win some tough ones. We can only get better from what we learned from it.”

After going on the road as underdogs in the first two games, the Cowboys come back home and they are favored against Loyola-New Orleans. Head coach Heath Schroyer said he wanted to get some of the “money” games out of the way at the very start of the season. Now that McNeese is the favorite, Schroyer wants to see the steps his team have taken since the Arizona State game.

“Just growth, that’s my whole thing through this preseason,” Schroyer said. “Is are we getting better? Are we more connected as a unit? Obviously there’s going to be a lot of nerves and a lot of jitters, and there’s going to be a lot going on. We have to kind of get through all that and get down to playing basketball and executing well, defending well, and being connected. That’s one thing we talked about is our program being connected on and off the floor, celebrating others’ success.”

Friday’s game is the first of three-straight home games, all against sub-Division I competition. Loyola-New Orleans currently has a 3-2 record and defeated Xavier-New Orleans 87-78 in their last game on Nov. 10. The Pack’s game against Mc-Neese is the second of three against Division I opponents this season. In their first one, they lost to Tulane 85-74 on Nov. 1.

While the focus will be on the game once it tips off, there will be a lot going on as the arena opens. There will only be a soft grand opening with limited concessions, so Friday night will not be the entire experience at the H&HP Complex. But for Schroyer and the team simply getting in there and being able to play regular season games is a big deal.

“You can’t put it in words,” Schroyer said. “It’s a great time to be a Cowboy, it’s a great time to be in Southwest Louisiana. And what a great venue. I’ve been a lot of places, and there are a lot that are bigger, but none any nicer. This is a first-class facility.”

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