New Carson High basketball coach Carlos Mendeguia and his Senator squad aren't entering the 35th annual Capital Classic under ideal circumstances.
Because of the success of the football program reaching the Northern 4A finals, the first-year coach just made final cuts on Wednesday.
So when the Senators take the floor tonight at 7:30 against South Tahoe, he isn't sure what to expect.
"We haven't had the opportunity to put our offense in," Mendeguia said Wednesday morning. "The guys that were on the team last year (Drew Moreland, Ty Keefer, Matt Nolan and Chance Quilling) know the stuff. We're going to be pretty simplistic.
"We're expecting the kids to go out, play hard and get minutes under their belt. The tournament is not about wins and losses. We want to see what they can do in live action. Everybody is going to get an opportunity to play. This is hard when you don't even know your full roster until the day before your first game."
The Carson game is the final one scheduled for the opening night of the tournament. Reed and Sparks square off at 3 p.m. in the opener followed by Central Valley and Damonte Ranch at 4:30. At 6, Wooster battles Dayton. The Dust Devils are replacing Lowry, which is hosting its own tournament this year.
Mendeguia's team won't have a lot of height this year, but it will be very athletic. Mendeguia said that only three or four of the 4A teams have any serious height.
"We will be more athletic," Mendeguia said. "We have a lot of athletic kids out there that have the ability to be a transition team. It will take a week or two to see what kind of team we will be.
"We are expecting sound, fundamental basketball this weekend. We want them to stay within the realm of their abilities and do the things they can do."
Mendeguia isn't sure how much Quilling can play this weekend. Quilling suffered a thigh/hip injury during the football playoffs and barely played in the 49-0 loss to Reed.
DAYTON (20-6, 14-1)
The Dust Devils, who fell one game short of the state playoffs last season, are a veteran-laden team with 10 seniors, a junior and a sophomore.
Coach Jason Santos is pleased with what he's seen since practice started on Nov. 12. Since the Dust Devils were not involved in the football playoffs, he has had his whole roster to work with since practice started.
"We're looking pretty good," Santos said. "Defensively, I think we look really good. Last year we would play a 2-2-1 and then drop back to a 2-3 defense a lot. I prefer to play man-to-man all the time.
"Offensively, we're just as good as we were last year. We have our top three scorers back from last year (Dylan Taylor 18.1 and 2.9 rebounds per game, Tyler Firestone 7.4 and Adan Gomez 5-2)."
Taylor scored 434 points a year ago and led the team in 3-point field goals with 22. The one flaw in his game is foul shooting where he knocked down only 54 of 105 attempts.
Other returnees are Eddy Morales (0.9), Luke Spencer (0.9), Isaiah Ruybal (0.0) and Sean deRubertis (0.3). Newcomers are Dominic Ricci, Evan Lane, Kenny Mullis and 6-foot-4 sophomore Bernardo Macias, who will start at center today.
This is a group that Santos is very familiar with.
"This is the class I started with when I coached at the middle school," Santos said.
And, this is a team that Santos thinks can win 20 games again.
Dayton moved its own tournament to next week to get into Carson's event, and Santos said there was a reason he did it.
"Last year we played some preseason games and I don't think they helped us much," Santos said. "They didn't make us better. We want to play teams that are better or just as good as us."
The Dayton coach also said that his team has a different mindset this year.
"We don't talk about it (loss to South Tahoe)," Santos said. "Last year, I think we were looking ahead to the state tournament. This year we're going back to one game at a time; looking only at our next opponent."