The Royals kick things off at the Devils Lake Sports Center this weekend with the team's first two regular season games of the 2013-14 season.

The Lake Region State Men’s Basketball season gets underway this weekend with a pair of home games on Saturday and Sunday evening.

The Royals, who finished with an 18-10 overall record last season, will square off against Turtle Mountain at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Devils Lake. The team will also take on Fort Berthold at 5 p.m. the following evening.

LRSC isn’t unique in their desire to start the season off strong. Just about every basketball team in the world has that same aspiration leading up to the first game of the season.

But this season is a bit different. Saturday night’s game will also be the first game for Royals head coach Joe Kittell, who was hired by the school last spring, his first job as a basketball head coach.

But according to Kittell, this is just another game for him and his players, an opportunity to go out and execute the tactics they’ve been working on in practice for the last two months.

And the Royals are ready.

“I think as a team, we’re ready to play,” Kittell said. “You have your preseason workouts, practices and scrimmages before the season starts, but it’s that time of year now. I think the guys are tired of practicing against themselves. It’s time to start competing for real.”

The Royals squad will have an added boost this weekend as sophomore post Channing Reed has been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion.

Now with a full team and depth on the bench, Kittell and the Royals look forward to Turtle Mountain, a non-conference foe.

Normally, if the Royals were preparing for a Mon-Dak opponent or a team with which they were familiar, much of the team’s practice time would be spent watching film, preparing for what the other team has in store.

However, Turtle Mountain is not that type of opponent, and Kittell indicates that this game is about the Royals, about transitioning what the team has gone over in practice to live-game situations.

“These first few games are going to be all about us,” Kittell said. “Right now, we’re focused on who we are and what we’re going to be good at.

“And it all starts defensively. I think that’s been the identity of this team so far. That’s going to involve us getting after people, defensive rebounding, diving on loose balls, taking charges,  that sort of hard-nose, blue collar mentality that I think this town will really appreciate.”

This town will get it’s first taste of the Kittell era for Lake Region State Men’s Basketball this weekend, and he and his players are hoping to come out the other side with a pair of victories.

“You never go into a game expecting to lose,” Kittell said. “We’re going to go into this game ready to compete, and we’re going to worry about the process that we’ve worked on in practice. At the end of the day, if we can execute the process right, we should come out on top.

“But that’s the most important thing to us right now: doing what we’ve been practicing throughout the preseason and not worrying about the scoreboard.”

Tip off for Saturday night’s game is at 7 p.m. at the Devils Lake Sports Center.