The Tamaqua Blue Raider boys basketball team is coming off of one of its most successful seasons in recent memory.
Tamaqua finished the 2012-2013 season with a 13-10 record, which involved its first post-season appearance in quite some time.
"We're a team that's going to be hunted," said Tamaqua head basketball coach Caszy Kosciolek. "We made the playoffs for the first time in ten years and won a playoff game for the first time in about a dozen years."
Tamaqua wants to become a team that can shut downits opponents on the defensive side of the ball. Kosciolek said his squad knows how frustrating it is to play against great defensive teams.
"Our motto is to play defense like you don't want it being played on you," the Tamaqua coach said.
The Blue Raider coach hopes some of the players coming over from the football season can carry that intensity onto the basketball court.
"If we can combine toughness, defensive intensity, and the skill we have already, we can become pretty good," Kosciolek said.
Kosciolek, in his third year, enters the 2013 season with the same nucleus of players he's had since he began his tenure at Tamaqua.
The starting five for Tamaqua is projected to be Brett Kosciolek, Bo Rottet, Zach Wargula, Adam Frantz, and a combination of Tyler and Trevor Skripko.
Brett Kosciolek and Rottet combined for almost 30 points per game last season and 81 three-pointers.
Wargula was well on his way to being one of the area's leading three-point shooters last year before battling injury.
The Tamaqua coach believes that their role players will compliment Kosciolek and Rotett nicely this year.
The vocal leader of this team is Adam Frantz, who is one of the important role players.
"He's not one that will show up big in the box score, but he's a player who does everything right on the court," said Kosciolek."We have a lot of interchangeable pieces that will mix well together. We have a tons of kids that can shoot the ball and be on the court at the same time with each other."
Russell Blaker, Ben Miller, Nate MacDonald, and Chris Hartung are going to be the first ones called off of the bench this season.
A few more Blue Raiders, which you will see from time to time on, the court include Connor Hartung, Joe Marcin, Dylan Van Buskirk, and Devin Murphy.
This Tamaqua team is extremely deep, which will give them a chance to pressure the ball a lot more and have fresh legs waiting to check into the game.
Coach Kosciolek explained that because this team is so deep, the practices are extremely competitive. All of the players are fighting for more playing time.
The Blue Raiders are going to cause a ton of match-up issues for their opponents, as everyone on the floor is a shooter who can stretch out the defense.
If Coach Kosciolek can get his Tamaqua team to play tough defensively, there is no reason why this Tamaqua team won't be able to build on last season's success.
"The measuring stick of how well we're playing is our games against teams such as Blue Mountain and Pottsville," said the Tamaqua coach.
Tamaqua will tip off its regular season Saturday with a home game against Pocono Charter.
"We're a deep team and I'm hoping the kids are buying into our system here.
I'm very optimistic about this season but we'll see what happens when the ball is on the court."