Veteran college basketball coach Tony Madlock, who is in his first season as Alabama State’s head coach, brought his team to Bartow Arena earlier this week.

For Madlock, at least when it comes to non-conference play, that was almost a home game.

“You got to think about it, man, my non-conference schedule, 12 of 13 games are on the road,” Madlock said after his team opened the regular season with a 111-70 loss at UAB. “Can you imagine that? But, that’s part of HBCU life. It’s part of it. We understand what it is. I think if we can continue to compete, hopefully we can get something out of this.”

The fact of college basketball life is that some teams from the SWAC, MEAC and other conferences use the non-conference portion of the schedule to help the budget with “buy” games. That means buckling up for plane trips and bus rides.

Alabama State is currently on a California tour. The Hornets play two games in Southern California - at USC on Thursday at 10 p.m. CT and Pepperdine on Sunday at 4 p.m. CT – and a game in Northern California at San Jose State on Tuesday at 9 p.m. CT. Later in the non-conference schedule, they play a pair of games in Pittsburgh and a four-team tournament in Athens, Ohio. The schedule also includes trips to Arkansas State, Memphis, Georgia Tech and UNA. The lone home game in non-conference play is a matchup on Nov. 18 with Carver College.

“We got a lot of stuff we’ve got to work on,” Madlock said. “It’s early. Every college coach I talk to, I’ve been in this business a long time, says the same thing, ‘We’re not ready.’ And we’re not. We got to figure this thing out. It’s just the thing that we’ve got to be on the road trying to figure it out. It’s part of it.”

Madlock has a roster sprinkled with newcomers. One of those newcomers is guard T.J. Madlock, the coach’s son. The younger Madlock, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard, played for his dad at South Carolina State last season, averaging team-highs in points per game (12.7) and assists per game (3.2) in 31 games. He scored 25 points in the loss to UAB.

“TJ, he’s a good player, man,” Madlock said. “He has a chance to be really good. He competes at a high level. It’s part of just trying to continue to mature, he’s just a sophomore.”

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