The Deerfield-Windsor Knights are ready to tip off the 2013 season, fresh off falling just short of a state title in 2012.
But this team is not the same as that one.
Gordy Gruhl's team returns just one starter from the state runners-up, and five players overall.
The Knights will hit the hardwood for the first time in 2013 on Tuesday, and Gruhl says they'll do it still searching for an identity.
The good news is, he says, the Knights have some time to find it.
"Teams are just like your children. They're all different," says Gruhl. "When you have to replace four starters, you have to find the right combinations. Players have to find their roles on the team, and that's something early on the season, we're going to have to sort through. Hopefully that'll be the case, and hopefully, come tournament time, this is going to be a pretty good basketball team."
One thing Gruhl does know about this team: they have a great work ethic.
Gruhl says this might be the hardest working team he's had in 30 seasons at DWS, and he believes last season's state title loss is a key reason for that.
"If there's anything positive about losing a championship game, I think it really motivates the team for the next year," Gruhl says. "I'm hoping that's going to be the case. They really put the hours in over the summer. Hopefully that's going to pay dividends for them."
"To get that close last year is one of the most motivating things that could possibly happen," says senior Chapman Ivey. "Just thinking about the first game, getting ready and everything, we're just ready to do it again this year."
The Knights tip off the 2013 season against defending Alabama state champion Glenwood Tuesday night in the W.T. Henry Gymnasium.
Copyright 2013 WALB. All rights reserved.