St. Mary's boys basketball coach Joe Mueller has a rough outline of what he wants his basketball team to be.
It's how well the Saints fill in the details that will determine where the upcoming season goes.
The framework of the team consists of two returning starters - 6-foot-1 senior guard Preston Tescher and 6-5, 205-pound senior post Brad Obritsch - and two others who played regularly.
Ben Weisbeck, a 6-foot sophomore guard, and Trent Bohan, a 6-foot junior guard, both piled up a lot of minutes off the bench.
"We do definitely have a nice mix of experience," Mueller said. "It gives us something to start with. ... I like where we're headed, but we've got a lot of work to do."
Obritsch is the Saints' top returning scorer at 11.8 points per game. He averaged
3.5 rebounds with 16 blocks. Tescher, an all-state football player, averaged 8.9 points,
3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
Weisbeck carried a 5.4 scoring average with 3.6 rebounds and Bohan averaged 4.2 points, connecting at 45 percent accuracy from 3-point range.
The veterans give St. Mary's some ballhandling stability, some perimeter shooting and some inside size. Rebounding and defense are questions that will remain unanswered until the Saints' Friday opener against visiting Turtle Mountain.
"When we're playing well; we'll be sharing the ball and finding the open man," Mueller said. "Defensively we want to get some ball pressure, communicate and play together. We want to get stops, get the rebound and get out and transition. Then the offense will take care of itself."
Mueller may have found some help for Obritsch on the blocks in Alex Herold, a 6-4, 255-pound senior. Herold, an all-state football player, is playing basketball for the first time since eighth grade.
"We're still trying to figure out Alex's role," Mueller said. "He wrestled as a freshman and sophomore, and last year he was kind of injured. He has some size, some strength and some girth - things we always complain that we don't have."
Others who will get playing time early on include 5-11 senior David Neff, 6-1 sophomore Darius Sparks, 6-1 sophomore Scott Nagel, 5-9 junior James Schreiner and 6-2 junior Andrew Wolf.
"Darius Sparks and Scott Nagel are a couple of sophomores who are pretty versatile and can give us some punch off the bench," Mueller said. "... Neff is a senior who is going to be called on to help us handle the ball."
Mueller said when he gets done sifting through his roster he should be able to go up to 10 men deep.
"There will be a few guys who play quite a bit. It's bench minutes that guys are fighting for right now," Mueller said. "We can play nine or 10 guys. It's just a question of who is going to get those minutes. ... I think we'll be deep enough to keep up our level of play the whole game."
With only three juniors on the team, Mueller said he'll have to dip into his sophomore class for depth. "We're going to need some of those younger guys," he said. "... We have a nucleus of guys coming back, but the other half is unproven."
While Weisbeck played extensively last season, Mueller said it will probably take awhile for the other sophomores to get their feet wet.
"They're athletic enough to handle it, but they have to be ready to be physical," he said.
With Obritsch, Wolf and Herold available, Mueller said the Saints shouldn't have matchup problems with most of their region opponents.
"We're fairly typical. When you look at the West Region there aren't a lot of teams that have a lot of size, with a couple of exceptions," the coach said. "... As far as size and length, we're right there."
Mueller expects the West Region to be a two-horse race between Bismarck and Mandan at the outset, with St. Mary's in a logjam at the middle of the pack. By tournament time he expects the region to be highly competitive.
"With all the experience (Bismarck and Mandan) have coming back, early on they might be a step ahead with the middle three, four or five teams battling to move up. We're hoping to be in the middle of the battle for one of those positions," Mueller said.
The Saints open the season on Friday, playing host to Turtle Mountain. Defending state champion Century visits St. Mary's on Dec. 13, and the Saints play at Bismarck Dec. 16. Bismarck is the defending regional tournament champion.