Tarleton State University has made a major addition to its 2007-08 men’s basketball schedule. The Texans will challenge Texas A&M, the parent institution of the university system that includes Tarleton, in an exhibition game on Nov. 5 at Reed Arena in College Station.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to play Texas A&M,” Tarleton Director of Athletics and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Lonn Reisman said. “It will be great exposure for our program and our university. What I’m most excited about is that they called us. I think that says what they think about our program.”
Texas A&M was just two steps away from reaching the biggest stage of collegiate basketball last year, having made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I Tournament, coming within two wins of the Final Four. The Aggies defeated Penn and nationally-ranked Louisville before bowing out to fifth-ranked Memphis in a 65-64 thriller in the regional-semifinals.
“We played a University of Texas team a few years ago that ended up going to the Final Four,” Reisman said. “We’ve beaten TCU and Lamar. Now, we’re playing an elite major program in A&M. I think this shows that we are getting notoriety from the major-college programs around the state.”
Reisman believes the Aggies’ request for the exhibition game comes as a result of the success of the Tarleton program on the hardwood in recent years, as well as the highly-praised recruits that have been added to the Texans’ roster for the upcoming season.
“I think they have seen our recruiting this year and feel it’s a good opportunity for them to play us,” Reisman said. “They are looking to do what’s best to get ready for the season just like we are.”
For Tarleton, getting ready for the season means preparing for an always difficult Lone Star Conference slate, as well as striving to return to the national playoffs and the Elite Eight. The Texans qualified for Division II hoops’ biggest stage in both 2004 and 2005, before missing the playoffs last spring.
Why does Reisman, who is about to begin his 20th season at Tarleton, choose to make the schedule as difficult as possible? He puts it best in his own words: “You don’t get better unless you play the best.”
Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at email@example.com.