Last season the Norwalk boys basketball team charged out to a 7-3 record, but down the stretch the Bears allowed 72 points per game and went 1-5 in their last six games.
Coach Tom Keyes said returning players took away some lessons from last year's disappointing conclusion -- namely, how to remain committed and not lose focus -- but otherwise last season is in the rearview mirror.
"We're so done with last year," Keyes said.
The Bears went 10-11 last season and lost to Fairfield Prep in the second round of Class LL state tournament. The team has several key returnees, including 6-5 sophomore forward Roy Kane Jr.(11.9 points per game), senior guard Jabari Dear (9.0 PPG) and 6-4 senior swingman Saeed Soulemane (8.4 PPG).
"We'll lean on Jabari, Saeed, Roy Kane, too. But we have some other guys who can step in and fill key roles in certain situations."
They'll help make the Bears a deep team with good average height, which should help them with rebounding, defense and foul situations.
"We don't have the big seven-footer that other teams have, but across the board we have some length, which I'm excited about. And we have depth, too."
His team is relatively tall, but Keyes said they won't be looking to settle down into a halfcourt offense.
"Even though we're big, our big men like to run and we're going to look to do that."
Keyes has heard the rumors that his team is going to be good this year, and he acknowledges that they have a good mix of size, speed and experience.
"Like any team, we have a lot of things we can get better. Any coach will tell you they wish their defense was better, so that's one area we're working hard on," he said.
"These kids are teenagers, so they're going to make mistakes. Usually in high school basketball, the team that makes the fewest mistakes is the team that's going to win."