The 2019-20 Northern Arizona men’s basketball schedule is out and features a familiar face in the Lumberjacks' first game of Shane Burcar’s time as the program’s interim head coach.
On Wednesday, Nov. 6, the Lumberjacks will travel to Tucson to play Arizona -- and former head coach Jack Murphy, who left NAU for his alma mater in early June to become an associate head coach on the Wildcats staff.
Northern Arizona is set to return most of the same contributors from last season -- while adding transfer Cameron Satterwhite to the mix -- including about 89 percent of its offense and most of its minute continuity, according to KenPom, just a year after again seeing massive roster upheaval.
Despite going 10-21 last season and bowing out in the first round of the Big Sky Conference championship tournament, some around the program are optimistic about the upcoming season even with a first-year college head coach.
After facing off against Murphy, Burcar and the Lumberjacks will get a rare opportunity early in the season -- a run of four straight games in Flagstaff and then a fifth at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
Northern Arizona hasn’t played that many home games in the nonconference slate since 2016 -- which also had four straight home games.
The first of the four games in Flagstaff are against non-Division I schools SAGU American Indian College -- a D-II squad -- and Benedictine Mesa -- an NAIA school. Northern Arizona last faced Benedictine in 2017 for a lopsided win in its favor at a neutral site at Tuba City High School.
The Lumberjacks cap off the homestand with South Dakota and UC Davis, which each beat a traveling Northern Arizona last season 90-74 and 73-57, respectively.
On Sunday, Dec. 8, the Lumberjacks will play Omaha in Prescott Valley before a three-game road trip caps off nonconference play with games against Utah Valley, UC Riverside and Pepperdine -- starting a run of eight of 10 games on the road.
Northern Arizona opens Big Sky play against the Montana schools on the road Dec. 28 to Dec. 30, making it the fourth time out in the past five years that the Lumberjacks started with Montana and Montana State.
The Lumberjacks get Weber State for the first Big Sky game in Flagstaff for a Saturday, Jan. 4, matchup. After facing Weber, Northern Arizona takes to the road for three of its next four games.
After spending some time on the road, Northern Arizona gets four straight home games against Portland State, Sacramento State, Idaho and Eastern Washington.
Northern Arizona alternates home and away for the final month of the season before the Big Sky tourney is set to open in Boise, Idaho, on March 9.