AStateNation - Jeff Reed

Arkansas State men's and women's basketball practice

Practice has started for the Red Wolves men's and women's basketball teams.

It is a case of starting over for Arkansas State’s basketball teams, when they started practice Sunday at the convocation center.

Brian Boyer’s team returns six lettermen and has eight freshmen; Grant McCasland’s first team has a pair of all-conference-caliber players and three other lettermen, but the rest of the roster are A-State newcomers.

Everything is new for McCasland and his staff. He was hired in the spring to replace John Brady.

“I was looking for energy, effort and toughness right out of the gate,’’ said McCasland “and that is the way we want to start this year and how we want to start games.”

The coach said it was a benefit that NCAA rules allowed the coaches to spend more time with the players in part because “it established the way we want them to operate.”

He said he was looking forward to how the team performs when they are tired -- “When you get down what do you do” -- and how it develops team bonding.

He said a lot of personnel decisions will not be made until games “when you see how they respond when the lights are on.”

For Boyer, who has been at Arkansas State for -- years, it is also a similar story. Eight newcomers are on the roster and there are no returning starters.

“This time of year I am usually looking to see who is No. 14, 13, 12,’’ said Boyer. “But they are still in play as well.

“We have to have a lot of patience.We have to slow things down and that is a big challenge for me.

“In the past, we’d use the non-conference to get wins. This year it is all about getting us ready for conference play. Our goal is still to win the conference and get in postseason play.”

Boyer’s team will have its first non-conference game on Nov. 1 vs. UA-Monticello. The season opener is Nov. 11 at Oklahoma State.

The men’s team will scrimmage UAM on Oct. 27 and will open at North Dakota State on Nov. 11. That game is on ESPN3.