Both the Sam Houston men’s and women’s basketball teams have started preseason practice for the upcoming 2013-14 season and both squads are excited to be back on the floor.

“This is a great time of year,” Sam Houston women’s basketball coach Brenda Nichols said. “We have a good mix of veterans and newcomers and everyone is eager to get started.”

The Bearkats made history last year, earning Sam Houston’s first Southland Conference women’s basketball title in 26 years in the league. Eight letter winners including two starters return from last year’s squad that went 18-15 for the year and rolled to a13-5 record in conference play.

Men’s head coach Jason Hooten also is looking forward to the start of preseason work. Sam Houston reached the semifinals of the 2013 Southland Conference tournament, knocking off No. 3 seed Oral Roberts and falling in a thriller eventual tournament titlist Northwestern State.

“Our post-season performance obviously gives us a lot of momentum coming into this year,” Hooten said. “We’re excited about our new recruits and looking forward about seeing what everyone can do.”

The Bearkat men return four starters plus a quality group of new recruits. Last year’s team MVP James Thomas, a 6-5 forward, guard DeMarcus Gatlin and Paul Baxter and 6-11 post player Michael Holyfield bring experience to the 2013-14 squad.

Four other lettermen return for the Kats including junior guard Marquel McKinney, senior guard Will Bond, senior forward Nathanian Mason and senior post Terrance Motley.  Guard Dakarai Henderson red-shirted as a true freshman last season.

Sam Houston’s women followed up their regular season championship by reaching the Southland Tournament finals for the first time. The Bearkats earned their second NCAA post-season tournament berth in two seasons, playing in the WNIT against Tulane in New Orleans.

Topping the list of returning players are guard Jasmine Johnson and post player Angela Beadle.

The 6-3 junior became only the fourth Sam Houston women’s basketball player to earn All-Southland Tournament honors in 2013. She tied her career scoring high with 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds in Sam Houston's 67-61 semifinal victory over No. 3 seed Lamar. During the regular season, she averaged 16.9 minutes played in all 33 games, totaling 193 points and 175 rebounds.

Johnson, a 5-7 senior guard, has scored 621 points in 91 games during her Sam Houston career. She started 32 games as junior last year, averaging 32.4 minutes per game and averaging 7.7 points and 3.4 assists per contest.

Other top veterans back include Nyha Cater, Jasmin Anderson, Sally Clavelle, Amanda Barnes, Clarke Davis and Jazmin Wiley.

Both squads open regular season play Friday, Nov. 8, with road games. The men travel to Edinburg to play Texas-Pan American while the women take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville.

Sam Houston’s men’s home opener at Bernard G. Johnson is Monday, Nov. 11 when the Kats play host to Hillsdale Baptist. The women open at home against Louisiana-Lafayette at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 15.

Basketball season tickets are on sale now at and at the SHSU athletic ticket office at Bowers Stadium.

Season tickets are $200 each and include 16 games – nine men’s and women’s Southland Conference doubleheaders, three men’s non-conference single games and four women’s non-conference single games.

To contact the SHSU athletic ticket office by phone, call (936) 294-1729. Ticket office hours at the Ron Mafrige Field House are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.