Indiana State women's basketball coach Vicki Hall has spent some time studying film of the programs she'll be preparing for when her first Missouri Valley Conference season begins.
Now, she can look at a schedule and see the road ahead. Her first trip through the Valley will begin with a stop in Springfield, Mo., against Missouri State on Jan. 4, facing the program that has won a league-best 12 regular-season titles and made 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament. ISU has won only six times in Springfield, Mo., against the Bears going back to 1982.
"Missouri State's a tough team and a tough place to play but us being on the road so long, hopefully, we'll be ready for that," Hall said, referring to a nonconference slate that includes 8 of 11 games away from Hulman Center.
The Sycamores' next game will be Jan. 6 at Southern Illinois. ISU's Valley home opener is Jan. 11 against Illinois State, with Bradley visiting on Jan. 13.
Hall said it feels good to be able to look at the schedule in its entirety.
"I think that helps a lot to get your bearings about the conference and non-conference all together and how it's all going to piece together. It's good to look at it and see where we're going to be. I have an idea of what's coming up," Hall said.
Hall takes her team on the road again after that against in-state foe Valparaiso on Jan. 18 and the Sycamores are on to Chicago to face Loyola on Jan. 20.
The Sycamores will take a shot at defending MVC champion Drake, which went 18-0 in the MVC, at home on Jan. 25. A perennial contender under coach Tanya Warren, Northern Iowa will visit Hulman Center on Jan. 27.
ISU travels to Evansville on Feb. 1 to wrap up the first half of Valley play. The Sycamore women will be on the road again to take on Bradley on Feb. 8 and Illinois State on Feb. 10.
Third-year coach Kate Achter brings her Loyola squad to Hulman Center on Feb. 15. Valparaiso, led by first-year coach Mary Evans, comes in Feb. 17. The Sycamores begin the toughest road trip of the season at Northern Iowa on Feb. 22 and visit Drake on Feb. 24.
ISU finishes the regular-season with three straight home games: Evansville on March 1, Southern Illinois on March 7 and Missouri State on March 9.
The Sycamores open the regular-season Nov. 7 at Marshall. The team's home opener is Dec. 3 against IUPUI.
"We're really excited for our first home game. They're from Indianapolis so it should be a fun team. It'll be a definite challenge for us," Hall said.
Hall hopes Sycamore basketball fans are ready to show their support in her first season at the helm.
"When Dec. 3 rolls around, we'll hopefully have a lot of people in the stands," Hall said. "I'd love to have 600 season tickets sold, it's been in the 400s. I'd love to have some people out."
ISU begins official practice Sept. 28.