It's safe to say that expectations are high surrounding the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team as official practice begins Friday.
The Redhawks have made huge strides under fourth-year coach Dickey Nutt, who has done an impressive job in digging the program out of the horrid mess he encountered after being hired.
Nutt is an optimistic guy by nature, but I can tell by the excitement in his voice that he is especially pumped up about the 2012-13 season.
Even people outside the program share Nutt's enthusiasm for the Redhawks. The college basketball preview magazines I've seen so far pick them second in the Ohio Valley Conference West Division, behind defending OVC champion Murray State.
The college football regular season is only about halfway over and the NFL season is just heating up, but it's definitely time to make room on the sports calendar for some hoops.
Nutt told me that everything appears to be on track for touted freshman point guard C.J. Reese to be on campus and eligible to play after the first semester ends Dec. 14.
Reese was not approved academically by the NCAA Clearinghouse, meaning he is not eligible to play for the Redhawks during the first semester.
Since Reese was not allowed under NCAA regulations to receive athletic aid because he was not approved academically, he never enrolled at Southeast. He has been fulfilling his academic requirements in his home area of Atlanta.
Nutt also told me that junior forward Michael Porter, who missed some recent preseason workouts, has a minor injury and Southeast is just trying to be cautious with him.
Nutt said that spots still are available for Southeast's third annual coaches clinic that will be held at the Show Me Center from 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. Thursday.
The guest speakers are SIU Carbondale coach Barry Hinson; Tony Barone Sr., director of player personnel for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies; and Mark Imhoff, who retired this summer as the all-time winningest coach at John A. Logan (Ill.) College.
The clinic, designed for coaches on all levels and also open to any fan age 18 and older, costs $50. Lunch will be provided at Buffalo Wild Wings.
To register for the clinic or for more information, call 501-733-4811, or visit gosoutheast.com.
Season tickets for Southeast basketball are on sale. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Show Me Center, which has served as the home of Southeast hoops since 1987.
For more information, call (866) SEMO-TIK or visit the athletics ticket office at 1221 Broadway.
The Southeast football team, after an open date over the weekend, returns to action against Tennessee State at 6 p.m. Saturday at Houck Stadium.
It won't be easy to gain revenge, but the Redhawks owe the Tigers.
TSU put a major hurt on the Redhawks last year, romping 55-3 in Nashville, Tenn., to equal Southeast's most lopsided OVC loss since joining the league in 1991.
Southeast's other low-water mark came during that inaugural OVC season when host Middle Tennessee State rolled 52-0.
The Tigers (6-0, 2-0 OVC), a talented squad, will be riding high when they come to Cape Girardeau. They are off to their best start since 2001, already having clinched their first winning record since 2008. They are the lone OVC squad without a league loss.
TSU, ranked 24th nationally last week and sure to move up, is coming off a thrilling 23-20 home win over OVC preseason favorite Eastern Kentucky.
The Tigers overcame a 20-10 deficit in the final nine minutes and scored the winning touchdown with just eight seconds to play.
How crazy has the OVC football season been through the first few weeks?
While Tennessee State leads the way at 2-0, five teams -- Eastern Illinois Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Murray State and Tennessee-Martin -- are 2-1.
Southeast (2-3, 1-1) will be tied for first place on the loss side if they beat TSU.
The Plaza Tire Capahas' reunion game scheduled for later this month has been cancelled.
Manager Jess Bolen told me the Capahas plan to hold a reunion game next summer, with details to be released later.
Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.