GRAND FORKS, N.D.-It's a schedule of firsts for University of North Dakota head women's basketball coach Travis Brewster. The first-year coach announced his team's 2012-13 schedule Friday, a slate that includes UND's premiere Big Sky Conference ledger and the re-kindling of a rivalry with North Dakota State, their first meeting since the 2003-04 campaign.
"This is a challenging schedule and we will find out early where we are at and need to go to fulfill our goals," Brewster said. "Now that we have the Big Sky Conference filling 20 of our 29 games, scheduling has been much more manageable in that regard. We play ten games against teams that either made it to the NCAA or WNIT and we will face Olympians as well. We play four games against teams that made the postseason right away which is very exciting."
Following home exhibitions with Bemidji State and Mayville State, North Dakota will open the regular season welcoming Harvard on Nov. 11. UND then goes on the road for four straight, starting at NCAA-tourney team Iowa State on Nov. 18. Three days later, UND travels to Duquesne, then plays at South Florida on Nov. 23. Both teams were in the WNIT a season ago.
One week later, all eyes will be in Fargo, N.D. for the re-start of a series that has been dormant for eight seasons as UND battles NDSU on Nov. 30. It will be first meeting since UND defeated NDSU twice in the postseason of 2003-04 (North Central Conference tournament, NCAA tournament), the last of 73 all-time games in the historic series.
"It will be an exciting game for the state of North Dakota as well as the University of North Dakota to play NDSU," Brewster said. "It's been awhile since we have played, but our team will get to experience it first-hand since we will be playing each other for the first time with both schools in Division I. I'll always fondly remember this being an intense week."
A season-long four-game homestand follows as Air Force, Drake and Jamestown College wrap-up the bulk of the non-league docket. The Big Sky opener comes Dec. 20 when Southern Utah makes a visit to Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
"Conference play will be huge because there is no room for letdown, and we will be playing longer than we ever have pursing a conference title," said Brewster. "This makes year-round preparation very important for coaches and players to be successful."
UND steps out of conference one final time on Dec. 29 when it heads to Salt Lake City to battle the University of Utah. Idaho State, the reigning Big Sky champion, will open the 2013 calendar year on Jan. 3 at BESC.
The Big Sky schedule is predominately a Thursday-Saturday set-up with the each of the 11 schools playing each other in a home-and-home configuration.
North Dakota finished last season with a 21-11 record, a Great West Conference Tournament title and a trip to the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI), its most successful season since starting the transition to NCAA Division I in 2008.
2012-13 schedule by the numbers
*73 all-time meetings between UND and NDSU (UND leads, 40-33)
*20 Big Sky Conference games
*16 home games total (2 exhibitions)
*11/11 date of first regular season game (vs. Harvard)
*10 games against postseason teams (NCAA- Idaho St (2), Iowa State; WNIT- No. Colorado (2), Drake, Duquesne, Harvard, South Florida, Utah)
*8 seasons since last meeting with NDSU (UND won 66-65 on Mar. 13, 2004 in second round of NCAA tournament)
*4 time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern)