Sophomore Deion Hammond leads Monmouth into a season rife with upside and yet another strong non-conference schedule. (Photo by the Asbury Park Press)
Traditionally, Monmouth is usually among the first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference programs to release its non-conference schedule every season. Tuesday afternoon was no exception, as the Hawks became the first of eleven MAAC schools to reveal the first portion of its ledger for the 2018-19 season, a 13-game amalgamation of teams headlined by Kentucky, but also including several other marquee opponents.
Three games will be contested in the friendly confines of the OceanFirst Bank Center, but the lack of home dates did not stop King Rice from comprising a slate that will test the Hawks appropriately and immensely as he and his program continue the upward ascent from an 11-20 season in year one of the post-Justin Robinson era.
Monmouth's season opener will take place in West Long Branch for a third consecutive season, as the Hawks will welcomes Lehigh to the Jersey Shore on November 6. The Mountain Hawks are also the third straight Pennsylvania school that Monmouth will open its season against, having debuted against Bucknell last season and Drexel the year prior. The contest precedes a five-game swing to road or neutral sites, beginning with Colgate, a Patriot League school like Lehigh, on November 9; and continues with a trip to Philadelphia to face Saint Joseph's (November 12), followed by three games in the Myrtle Beach Invitational, an eight-team tournament headlined by West Virginia. The full bracket and field for the tournament will be released later this summer.
Monmouth returns home for the Thanksgiving holiday to continue its in-state series with Princeton, who visits West Long Branch on Saturday, November 24. From there, a four-game road trip awaits, starting with the long-awaited trek to Rupp Arena to face Kentucky on November 28, the second half of a two-year series with the Wildcats whose opening game was contested at Madison Square Garden last December. Upon returning from Lexington, the Hawks head to the Sojka Pavilion on December 1 to return last year's meeting with Bucknell, then take on a pair of New York opponents in the Empire State, squaring off against Hofstra (December 5) and Albany (December 8), the latter being the last game before final exams.
The penultimate game of Monmouth's non-conference journey is one in which Yale returns the favor from last season by visiting the Hawks on December 20. A ten-day hiatus for the Christmas holiday separates the Yale game from the final tuneup before league play, which comes on New Year's Eve at the Palestra against Penn, a team that defeated Monmouth in a quadruple-overtime thriller in West Long Branch last November.
Monmouth Non-Conference Schedule (all times TBD)
Tuesday, November 6: vs. Lehigh
Friday, November 9: at Colgate
Monday, November 12: at Saint Joseph's
Thursday, November 15 - Sunday, November 18: Myrtle Beach Invitational (opponents TBD)
Saturday, November 24: vs. Princeton
Wednesday, November 28: at Kentucky
Saturday, December 1: at Bucknell
Wednesday, December 5: at Hofstra
Saturday, December 8: at Albany
Thursday, December 20: vs. Yale
Monday, December 31: at Penn