Harding visits for women’s opener

Jordan Larimore


The fundraising exhibition basketball games of the One State, One Spirit and I-44 Hoops Classics have come and gone, and there is a regular season to play. That slate begins today for MaryAnn Mitts, entering season 11 at the helm of Southern’s women’s basketball program. 

“I thought the first 10 minutes of the second half [of the I-44 Hoops Classic] was championship basketball,” Mitts said. “I mean, that is what you need to have if you’re going to vie for an MIAA Championship or a very successful NCAA bid. I left there thinking if we could bottle that 10 minutes up and expand it into 20 by Christmas, and 25 and 30 and 40 by the end of the year, that was something that our players could look at, visualize. They experienced it, and now we always have a touching point to go back to.”

The 10 minutes Mitts refers to saw the Lions pull within 13 points of the Missouri State University Lady Bears, who are picked to win the Missouri Valley conference.

The final score was not indicative of the way Southern competed, Mitts believes. The Lady Bears eventually pulled away with a 91-58 victory, led by Casey Garrison with 22 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

Tonight, the Lions open up the regular season in a 7 p.m. tipoff in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center against Harding University, and Mitts feels that playing such stiff competition in a preseason exhibition will help her team through potential adversity this season.

“They [Harding] love the high-low look, which Missouri State did as well,” she said. “So I’m excited that we’ve already played an exhibition where we’re going to have to guard two post players, one at the high post and one at the low post. Both of those post players shoot the three well … The other thing defensively they’re going to show, which Missouri State did, is they switch screens. They switch on-the-ball screens especially.”

Mitts says those screen switches create mismatches for her team, which her offense needs to recognize and take advantage of.