Marian head coach Paul Brutto has been around basketball long enough to realize that games, yet alone championships, are not won and lost on paper.

However, like any successful puzzle, if all the pieces are there and they can fit together perfectly, a masterpiece can be created.

Such may be the case with this year's Marian girls basketball team, where talent is plentiful and expectations are at an all-time high.

"No doubt about it, we're definitely expecting big things for this year's team," stated Brutto. "We have a nice blend of kids to work with this season. We have experience with four starters back, we have some younger kids with potential that played a decent amount of minutes for us last year, and we have a few transfers that were starters with their previous teams.

"We can easily go 8-10 deep in most games and not miss a beat, which is a nice luxury to have, especially for a small school. Last year, we got hit with the injury bug and depth became a real concern. This season, we're in a lot better shape to withstand injuries, foul trouble, etc."

Back in the fold for the Fillies, who finished last season with a 15-9 record, are senior guards Gabby Green, Emily Sofranko and Lindsay Nemeth, as well as 5-10 sophomore forward Savanna Krusinsky.

Green, a four-year starter at point guard, led Marian with 13.04 points per game and 42 three-pointers before going down with a serious knee injury in the District 11 quarterfinals against Nativity.

According to Brutto, Green's physical health appears to be back to 100-percent, but after missing all offseason rehabilitating the knee, she is still in the process of catching up with the rest of the team.

"Gabby is the engine that makes the rest of the team go," stated Brutto. "She handles the ball, passes the ball and shoots the ball extremely well. In addition, she's probably one of our best defenders. It's great to have her back in the mix."

Krusinsky, who averaged 7.24 points as a freshman starter, while also leading the team in rebounding, joins guards Emily Sofranko (5.54 points per game) and Lindsay Nemeth (5.52 ppg, 26 three-pointers) in the starting lineup.

The fifth starter for the Fillies will most likely be 5-7 junior forward Abby Whildin. Whildin, a transfer from Panther Valley, led the Panthers with 14.96 points per game last season (second in the TIMES NEWS coverage area) and 31 three-pointers. Whildin takes the place of departed starter Samantha Faust, who averaged 8.36 points per game and led the TN coverage area in free throw percentage (0.764).

"We're obviously happy to have Abby, as you can never have too many good players," added Brutto. "She's going to benefit from having a better supporting cast than she had last year at PV. No matter who it is, I think everyone eventually benefits from the talent around them."

Junior forwards Ashley Fannick and Monica Baranko will return to see significant playing time, and sophomore guard Vanessa Whitecavage (who started as a freshman for Minersville last season) will be a welcomed addition.

Ericha Holman (5-11 senior center), and freshmen forwards Brenna Karnish and Madison Stoyer also look to see playing time.

"We definitely have the talent in place this year, but with some new kids coming in (whether it's freshmen or transfers), you always have to be concerned about the chemistry and blending of those talents," stated Brutto. Talent without chemistry is a recipe for disaster."

As a guard-oriented team, the Fillies will once again rely on their quickness to employ a full court defense to put the pace of the game at a higher tempo and create havoc for the opposition. With the Fillies defense creating their offense expect to see a host of Marian players sharing the scoring load.

"We have a lot of capable weapons, but we still only have one ball to go around," concluded Brutto. "The girls need to understand that they need to share the ball or else they're not going to be playing. We're more worried about Marian scoring than who scores for Marian."