The Tamaqua boys basketball program made some strides last season, Jay Daubert's first at the helm.

The Blue Raiders still have a long way to go, however.

Case in point: Tamaqua won as many games last year as it had in the three previous seasons combined, but the Raiders finished at 5-17.

Over the past five years, the Raiders have won just 12 of 118 games, a total that falls short of the amount of victories from their last winning season, when they posted a 15-9 mark under Joe Ligenza in 2003-04.

A year ago, the Raiders boosted their offensive output to 50.4 points per game, up from 39.2 the previous year. The problem was, they surrendered almost 65 points an outing.

Daubert feels the strengths of this year's team have yet to be revealed.

"I still don't know what our identity is at this point," said Daubert. "We don't have anything to hang our hats on, such as our defense is strong, or our offense is strong. We need to figure out what our strong suit is and what we do best."

The Raiders lost leading scorer Nick Edmonds (14.3 ppg.) to graduation, as well as guard Wayde Williams and forward Justin Paisley, but Daubert is returning the bulk of the squad with experience under its belt.

"I believe we are a little more athletic than last year and we're definitely healthier than we were, when we started off with 3-4 injuries and the football players coming in a week later than they did this year," noted Daubert.

The backcourt has Spencer Bennett, a 5-8 junior, at point guard. Michael Taylor, a 6-1 senior, averaged nine points a game at shooting guard, leading the Raiders in triples with 36.

Up front, Anthony Bumbulsky, a 6-5 senior, is the Raiders' top returning scorer at 12.4 per game. Mike Gurcsik, a 6-4 senior, and Mike Streisel, a 6-2 junior, give Tamaqua a physical presence underneath.

Rounding out the roster are Justin Hubosky, a 6-0 senior forward; Trevor Reinhardt, a 6-3 junior center; Jonathan Ansbach, a 6-4 junior forward; Zach Lakitsky, a 6-2 junior swingman; and Joe Rudy, a 6-0 junior guard.

Daubert said the Raiders will operate a new offense this season. "We're going to be running a little bit more of an open set this year, but still have the ability to go inside and post up," he said. "There'll be a lot more motion, a lot more back cuts, a lot more overall movement."

Daubert hopes that will help the Raiders get out of the gate faster, both at the beginning of games and to start the season.

"I'm looking for a better effort from start to finish on both ends of the floor, and for us to play with more confidence and hopefully get a lot more W's than we did last year," he said.

Tamaqua opens its season Friday night at Weatherly.