By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
The Master’s University men’s basketball team responded to last season’s run to a No. 1 ranking in the NAIA and a conference title by securing a 2018-19 schedule that should give it a more tangible sense of where it stands nationally as it makes another run at the postseason.
The Mustangs will, as always, play a competitive Golden State Athletic Conference schedule that features perennial Top 25 teams like Hope International, Westmont College and Vanguard University. But they will also take their game outside the GSAC – and the state.
In fact, TMU’s first two regular season games will come November 1 and 2 at a tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. The Mustangs will play Louisiana State University Shreveport and host Texas Wesleyan, both of which could open the season in the NAIA Top 10.
“It will give us a gauge right of the bat of where we’re at,” said TMU coach Kelvin Starr. “It’s good because even if you drop a game, it can really tell you where you’re at nationally. Last year, even though we were tested in conference, you can get a little bit comfortable because you keep winning. Losses are good for you sometimes.”
Master’s finished 29-3 last season, earning the No. 1 overall seed in the NAIA national tournament before falling to Peru State in the first round. The Mustangs were particularly good at home. They went 14-0 in the MacArthur Center, and in Starr’s two seasons at the helm that mark is 26-2.
“Our gym is one of the coolest home-court advantages around,” Starr said. “The atmosphere in our gym is crazy.”
Key conference home dates for TMU include Dec. 6 (Hope International), Jan. 12 (Westmont) and the regular-season finale Feb. 23 (Vanguard).
It will be a mostly familiar group pushing for repeat conference regular season and tournament titles, highlighted by NAIA All-Americans Tim Soares and Hansel Atencia.
“We’ll miss (All-American) Lawrence (Russell),” Starr said, “but we’ve got a very good core back. So it’s pretty exciting. It’s just a matter of jelling a few new guys, staying humble and keeping our eyes focused on continuing the process of becoming a team.”