His second year at St. Philip, Tiger coach Dino English is hoping his squad can pick up where they left off last season after a strong 15-7 campaign.
The challenge is that St. Philip's boys' basketball team will have to do that after losing many of the players that accomplished last season's success - losing seven seniors.
But where many people would see that as a negative, English sees it as an opportunity.
"It's our second year together so the guys can adapt more to what I want, looking to push the ball more, using our speed and athletic ability. We lost seven seniors, but we have enough guys coming back that had experience from last year so I think everyone is excited about what we have in front of us this year," English said.
Graduation losses left just three seniors on this year's team as the Tigers will be dealing with more youth in 2012-13, but that won't slow down the progress of the program according to English.
"I'm not anticipating any growing pains. I see that as an excuse. Actually I have more expectations going into my second year," English said. "The guys that are here have been in the program for two years and they should know what we want to do."
One of the top returners agrees with his coach. St. Philip's Alex Doyle will be looked to for points and rebounds as the junior should be the focus of the offense for the Tigers.
"We lost a lot of seniors, but I think we are still going to have a solid team and I think we can live up to what the team did last year, we just have to work at it," Doyle said. "We know how Dino runs his offense and how he runs his team and how to play his way and win games."
The 6-foot-4 Doyle will play in the post for St. Philip and could be joined in the frontcourt by 6-foot-5 senior Cody Boggio and Tyler Hubbard-Neil, a junior who was brought up during the season last year as a sophomore.
In the backcourt, senior Jon Niland will return as the point guard as the Tigers will also look to Hunter Haley for big minutes as he could break into the starting lineup.
Senior Rich Yacovoni will also be seeing playing time in his final year in the program at the guard spot with Jack Luoma giving the team depth as well as Brent DeBree, a transfer from Lakeview.
"We have guys coming off the bench this year who have been starters at one point, so they know what it takes to keep it rolling," English said. "We have some shoes to fill from those seven seniors we lost, but I see more athletic ability on the whole and guys that can fill multiple positions."
St. Philip will be looking to make some noise in the Southern Central Athletic Association, where the Tigers will have to contend with defending champ Climax-Scotts, which went all the way to the Class D state finals last season.