By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
It’s a date circled on every college basketball player’s calendar.
Today — Oct. 15 — is the first day for full-team basketball practices for NCAA Division II schools.
Missouri Southern’s teams have one practice slated today — 9 a.m. for the women’s team, 6 p.m. for the men’s squad.
“It’s been a long time since I felt we were ready for the first day of practice,” women’s coach Maryann Mitts said. “Everybody is healthy. I think we’ve gotten quicker, our strength is improved. It’s been a very, very good preseason for us.”
“The start of practice is always exciting,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “It’s exciting to see if guys have improved from one year to the next, and it’s exciting to see what the newguys can do and how they blend in.”
New players comprise more than half of both rosters.
The men’s team has six returning players and eight new ones, and the women’s team has 11 new players and only two returnees.
The annual “Meet the Lions’’ night is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 25.
The women’s team will play an exhibition game on Nov. 2 at San Francisco. The season opener comes one week later against Mary in the Pittsburg State Tipoff Classic.
The Lions have two exhibitions against Division I teams — Nov. 1 at Oral Roberts in Tulsa and Nov. 4 at Missouri. The men also open their season Nov. 9 at home against John Brown.