The men’s and women’s basketball teams look to capture the conference title this upcoming February by challenging themselves throughout the regular season with highly-ranked opponents and road tournaments.

The men have five matchups this season against teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches preseason top 25.They will face No. 15 Emory (Ga.), No. 9 Washington (Mo.), No. 17 Whitworth (Wa.), No. 18 Wheaton (Il.) and No. 22 University of Texas-Dallas before they open conference play.

SCAC play begins on Friday, Jan. 9, in Irving, Texas against the University of Dallas.

“They are going to be difficult games for sure, because at the beginning of the year you are nowhere near where you are going to be towards the end,” said sophomore guard Joseph Thomas. “We may not look the best in those games, but I definitely think they will prepare us for the end of the year and conference play.”

The men open their season tomorrow, Nov. 15, with an away non-conference matchup at Hardin-Simmons University.

They return to San Antonio Nov. 17 to face the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in their first home game.

“I think the talent level and the work ethic and those kinds of things are there,” said men’s head coach Pat Cunningham. “The seniors are going to have to embrace bigger roles and be able to perform. Secondly is how quickly [the sophomores] adapt to not having played much for a year and now all of a sudden being put into a game experience.”

The women will try to reclaim the conference title from two years ago after their close loss to the Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs in the championship match last season.

“I just think with our team dynamic, in my mind, I almost see no way we could lose really. That is how confident I am in this team,” said sophomore forward Allison Staley.

In team sports, like basketball, chemistry on and off the court can be important for performance.

“The chemistry is monumentally better than it has been in seasons past. That is a credit to the players and the attitude that they have brought to the season this year,” said women’s head coach Cameron Hill. “These girls really care about each other. They support each other,  [in] in any team sport if you have that you have everything.”

They open the season tomorrow, Nov. 15, against George Fox University at the George Fox Classic in Newberg, Oregon.

“I love traveling—I think it is such a team experience,” Staley said. “You work all week. You practice everyday and the game is the rewarding part of your practicing.”

The first home game for the women is Dec. 19, when they host North Park (Ill.).

Women’s conference play begins Friday, Jan. 9, as they travel to take on Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

“Every time we step on the floor I think it is an opportunity for us to get better and to demonstrate where we are—to reinforce everything that we are working to achieve this year,” Hill said.