The University of Central Arkansas basketball scheduled for 2010-11 includes a season opener against Hendrix, an NCAA Division III member across town and the start of a home-and-home series against Alabama.

The game with Alabama is the first in a home-and-home series that will bring the Crimson Tide to Conway in the 2011-12 season, marking the first time the Sugar Bears will have hosted a BCS conference school.    

“For us to get a home and home with an institution with the history of Alabama – which comes from a major power conference and is a school coming off a national championship in football  — shows it’s an exciting time for the University of Central Arkansas and our basketball program,” said coach Matt Daniel, the Southland Conference Coach of the Year last year in his second season at UCA.    

The Sugar Bears’ next three games will be at the Morehead (Ky.) State Classic on Nov. 19-21 with games against Morehead State, Norfolk State and Houston Baptist before returning home for four consecutive games in the Farris Center.    

Atlantic Sun members Belmont and Lipscomb, who defeated the Sugar Bears in the first two games of last season, come to Conway on Nov. 27 and 29, respectively. UCA will then play its second crosstown game of the season on Dec. 6, playing host to Central Baptist College before finishing the homestand with Eastern Kentucky out of the Ohio Valley Conference on Dec. 11. The Sugar Bears defeated EKU 52-47 in Richmond, Ky., last season.      

UCA finishes up before the Christmas break at Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 18, then returns to action with three home dates to close out the non-conference slate – Chicago State on Dec. 28, Oklahoma Wesleyan on Jan. 1 and Ecclesia on Jan. 4.    

Southland Conference play begins Jan. 8 on the road against defending league regular-season and tournament champion Lamar and reigning player of the year Jenna Plumley, followed by the conference home opener on the 12th against last year’s East Division champion Stephen F. Austin – which has switched divisions with Lamar. The Sugar Bears will also join the UCA men’s basketball program in playing doubleheaders against McNeese State on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12, breaking from the standard mirrored schedule. The Southland Conference tournament, held in Katy, Texas, runs March 8-12.    

“There are challenges throughout,” Daniel said. “We’ve got some teams who beat us in non-conference last year, and teams with new coaches and new styles that we’ll have to prepare extra hard for. And it always gets tricky around finals and leading up to them, when there’s an extreme focus on academics. But the good news is that everyone’s back, and we’ve added more depth and talent to our roster.”    

The Sugar Bears, who went 21-8 last season and had the biggest single-season improvement in Southland Conference history, return all nine letter-winners from a  year ago – including freshman of the year and first team all-conference selection Megan Herbert –  and have added three junior college transfers in Porsha Donnerson, Destinee Rogers and Jelessa Williams; one incoming freshman in Courtney Duever; and will have Brea Banks and Sidney Stewart, both of whom redshirted last season.   

(Josh Goff, UCA assistant sports information director, contributed to this report) 

Sugar Bear 2010 schedule

Nov. 12 Hendrix

Nov. 14 at Alabama

Nov. 19-21 Morehead State Classic

Nov. 27 Belmont

Nov. 29 Lipscomb

Dec. 6 CBC

Dec. 11 Eastern Kentucky

Dec. 18 at UAPB

Dec. 28 Chicago State

Jan. 1 Oklahoma Wesleyan

Jan. 4 Ecclesia

Jan. 8 at Lamar

Jan. 12 SFA

Jan. 19 at Northwestern State

Jan. 22 Lamar

Jan. 26 at SE Louisiana

Jan. 29 McNeese State

Feb. 2 NW State

Feb. 5 UTA

Feb. 9 at Teas State

Feb. 12 at McNeese State

Feb. 19 Sam Houston State

Feb. 23 at Nicholls State

Feb. 26 Southeastern Louisiana

March 2 UTSA

March 5 at Texas A&M-CC

March 8-12 SLC Tournament