It's no secret throughout the Schuylkill League ranks that the Tamaqua boys basketball program hasn't had a lot of success the past seven years.
Since Tamaqua last made the post-season in 2003, the Raiders have accumulated a dismal 23-139 overall record.
Rebuilding a program is never an easy task, especially a program that lingers in the Schuylkill League's Division 1 with the likes of Pottsville, Blue Mountain, North Schuylkill, Jim Thorpe, Pine Grove, and Panther Valley.
However, there is hope on the horizon for Tamaqua with the young talent on the Raiders' roster. The last two years the Tamaqua freshmen and junior high teams have been one of the more elite teams in the Schuylkill League. Add a new head coach to the mix in Caszy Kosciolek, who wants to install a fierce defensive personality into his team, and the Raiders may have the recipe for success they have waited seven long years for.
Kosciolek, who previously coached at Panther Valley from 1994 to 1998 and at Lehighton from 2004 to 2007, made it adamant that he wants his team to play fast, score in transition, and create offense through their defense.
"Ideally we want to play fast," said Kosciolek. "I don't think we're the kind of team that is going to come down in half court sets and be able to score consistently. I feel we're a mentally tough team and we're developing a defensive personality about us that I hope will transition into our offense."
A good coach will take the strengths his team offers and will try to gameplan based on those strengths. Kosciolek feels that if his coaching staff can find the right combination of players their offense will progress as the year goes on.
"I've been stressing to the players that I want them to focus on the right now," said Kosciolek. "Right now we're trying to instill a defensive mindset, but I feel if we can figure out the right combo of guys to play together our offense will come together. We have talented kids, but we're young and we have to see what they can do in varsity type action."
The Raiders success will not only come from the crop of young players at Kosciolek's disposal, but from seniors Jake Fegley and Matt Kurek. Fegley and Kurek are the two players that Kosciolek expects to lead the Raiders. Fegley especially, who will be running the point for Tamaqua in 2011-2012.
Kosciolek also mentioned that junior Dalton Nunemacher has been a pleasant surprise so far this season and will be seeing a lot of minutes at the off-guard spot. Nunemacher is more known for his abilities on the gridiron, but maybe the Raiders have found a diamond in the rough with the speedy Nunemacher.
Other players expected to make varsity contributions include; Tanner Kehl (Jr. F/C 6-4), Tyler Krell (Jr. F/C 6-2), Adam Frantz (So. F/C 6-1), Chris Hartung (So. F/C 6-2), Brett Kosciolek (Fr. G/F 6-4), Boaz Rotett (Fr. G 5-8), Derek Rotett (Jr. G/F 6-3), and Zach Wargula (Fr. G 5-10).
Coach Kosciolek believes he can have a different lineup at anytime throughout the year and that it's going to be interesting to see how the lineup meshes.
"I'll put it this way, during the season, every JV game for our younger guys will be like an audition to play in the varsity game," said Kosciolek. "We want to get to the point where we're battling every opponent on a consistent basis."