Duane Echols has a feeling the McDaniel men's basketball team is going to be a little bit different this year.
Not in terms of who's running up and down the court for the Green Terror. They have 13 returning players, including a plethora of guards.
But with the loss of 6-foot-6 big men Evan Pupelis and Jimmy Cranwell, McDaniel is going to have to adapt its style of play.
"We're definitely going to have to be more of a scrappy team than we have ever been in the past," said Echols, a junior guard. "My first two years, we had size inside so we could get it in. We had good post presence, we had good post D. But now, we're a little bit smaller so we're definitely going to have to try to use our quickness, use our smarts to outsmart teams and definitely outhustle them."
Echols, who has started every game each of his first two seasons, is just one of those guards that the Terror will rely on to try to have another strong season in the Centennial Conference. Fellow juniors Wes Brooks and Cam Royster will be in the mix, as will fifth-year senior Nic Martin, seniors Andrew Merlo and Phil Perry, and sophomore 3-point specialist Nick Perugino.
"We're going to be quick down the floor," Green Terror coach Kevin Curley said.
But McDaniel will need to find the right combination of guards, as well as who will be filling in down low. 6-foot-6 junior center Nick Yockey is currently out due to injury and 6-foot-6 sophomore Kevin Yrizarry isn't with the team until football season is over.
Curley said the team will be relying on 6-foot-5 junior forward Tim Stewart to make the transition to the post. Stewart played down low some in 2013-14, his first season with the Terror after transferring from Neumann, but mostly played out on the perimeter as a wing.
It's a move that Stewart said he's more than fine with making though.
"I feel more comfortable being down low because I can rebound better," Stewart said. "I'm around the basket and I feel like I can score better around the basket."
The Green Terror are coming off a strong 2013-14 season in which they matched the program record with 18 wins, finishing third in the conference with a 12-6 record against Centennial opponents. They also beat Muhlenberg in the first round of the conference playoffs, their first postseason win in 53 years.
McDaniel will be tested early in the season. On Saturday, the Terror open the season against York (N.Y.), an NCAA Division III tournament team last season, at the Penn State-Harrisburg Tip-Off Tournament.
Then, they travel to Franklin & Marshall on Nov. 22 and three games later, the Terror face Dickinson on the road Dec. 2.
"We're definitely going to try to go out there, try to win, do everything we can," Echols said. "If we don't come out with the win, it's OK, because we've still got a long season ahead of us. But we definitely want to knock off those big teams right away, get our confidence up so we can move forward and be successful."
While Franklin & Marshall will be a big team and Dickinson will have a wealth of experienced players, the Green Terror should also be considered one of the top teams in the Centennial Conference entering the season, despite their lack of size. They were picked fifth in the conference's preseason poll conducted by coaches and sports information directors.
Outlook: The Green Terror don't have much size, and will rely heavily on the play of their quick, athletic guards. The Terror will likely compete with the other top teams in the Centennial Conference, largely in part due to their experienced roster featuring 13 returning players. 6-foot-5 Stewart will have to fill in in the post after the loss of 6-foot-6 big men Evan Pupelis and Jimmy Cranwell.