Familiarity with coach Andy Smith and each other has allowed the Soroco boys basketball team time to focus on more important aspects of the game than simple X's and O's.
The Rams welcome back every starter off last year's squad, but no spots were guaranteed, Smith said. Every player has to earn his court time, but having a core group of players returning provides a certain level of comfort for a coach.
"We've been working on more of the detailed things than we did last year, and adding stuff that I don't want anyone to know about," said Smith, a second-year coach.
The varsity roster boasts nine seniors and three juniors, leaving the Rams deep and experienced.
Smith said he wishes he had more than one sophomore out this season, but the seven freshmen he has at the junior varsity level have caught on to the coach's concepts quickly.
"It's not the whole trying to teach everything over again," he said. "It's nice to know that we have experience that will pay off."
While Rangely, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A, is the runaway favorite to win the Western Slope championship, it is anyone's guess as to who will come in second.
"I think that all the teams are pretty good this year," Smith said. "Everyone has a great chance to do well this year. I think it will be a great year for great games."
If one strength stands out about this year's Rams squad, it is its competitiveness. Soroco has a group of juniors and seniors who don't like to lose -- evidenced most recently by the football team's run to the postseason. Nearly every varsity basketball player competed on the football field as well.
"I have a solid, deep bench," Smith said. "I think throughout the year we might be able to do some pressing and things like that."
The Rams spent portions of the summer at camps and working on individual drills in South Routt. Smith said the extra work should pay off.
Soroco opens the season at 8 p.m. today against DeBeque in the two-day DeBeque Tournament. Soroco only plays one home game before Christmas, hosting North Park in the league opener Dec. 19.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org