Although the calendar has just turned to December, Northwestern's head girls' basketball coach, Chris Deutsch, already feels like a kid on Christmas morning.
"When we got back on the court for the first time this season, I was so excited. I wish the season would never end. Being able to be out there with all these girls and our assistant coaches brings great joy to me. I really enjoy it."
Deutsch, who is entering his 11th year at the helm, is feeling extra excitement for this upcoming season as his Lady Tigers finished the 2012 regular season with a 21-2 record, but acquired no titles as they fell short to Southern Lehigh in the Colonial League championship and was upset by North Schuylkill in the AAA district quarterfinal.
The self-described basketball junkie sees positives and negatives with this year's squad.
"One of the positive things that we have seen so far is that we have a lot of girls returning with big game experience," Deutsch said in a phone interview. "We are young as eight of the 14 girls suiting up for varsity are either freshman or sophomores, but they have experience."
"One negative would be our size. We don't have a lot of it. That worries me a little bit. We will be playing teams bigger than us, so how we handle that will be interesting."
Two key losses from last year are Sara Jones and Kaleen Suter. Both graduated in the spring with Jones being the all-time leading scorer in school history. She is continuing her basketball career at the Naval Academy.
Returning this winter are three starters from last year and they are senior Trista Cunningham and juniors Sabrina Mertz and Sarah Segan.
Deutsch described his girls as "quick" and "athletic" offensively and he hopes his key returning reserves can step up to starting roles with those attributes. Those girls are junior Lauren Anderson and sophomores Erika Thomas and Megan Landrigan. Other notable returners are seniors Kylee Bennett and Erynn Day along with sophomore Mikaela Koenig.
"Our goal is the Colonial League championship," admitted Deutsch. "That is one of the goals. We got to the finals last year, so this year we want to get there and win it, definitely. We want to make a better run in districts this year and give us an opportunity to possibly qualify for districts...Expectations are extremely high."
According to Deutsch, there are three keys to success this winter as he sees his girls remaining at the top of the Colonial League.
"Health is key for us. If we can stay healthy, that will be important. Keeping your team healthy makes a difference. Trusting each other on the basketball court is another one. Lastly being able to trust your teammate with everyone accepting their role on the court is big with me. Everyone has to be willing to accept their roles"
Deutsch felt the Christmas morning euphoria already in the preseason, the Northwestern Lady Tigers can elevate his joy by getting what is on top of his wish list, the Colonial League championship.