Shadyside is facing a lengthy list of unknowns as it prepares for the new season.
Ed Andes begins his 16th season at the helm looking to replace all five starters from a team that finish 13-12 and advanced to the district before falling to eventual regional qualifier River.
"It seems like we're in this boat every year, but we'll take the kids we have, and hopefully, by the end of the year, make them better," Andes said. "We've got a nice group of kids who enjoy being in the gym playing basketball."
PICTURED IS the 2013-14 Shadyside basketball team. Front row, from left, are Colby Sherwood, Tre Myers, John Michael Schuetz, Austin Carroll and Jake Gregan. Standing, from left, are assistant coach Jared Andes, Travis Fulton, Josh McFarland, Mark Fahey, Shane Johnson, Zach Frizzi and head coach Ed Andes. Absent were Luke Nardo, Logan Cline and Jesse Cain.
All told, the Tigers return just two lettermen - Luke Nardo and Zach Frizzi - from last season's squad. On top of that, they boast nary a senior in the program.
Shadyside lost Adam Stupak, Ryan Richardson, Skyler Gibson and Jared Brooks to graduation.
"We're going to be young and I know they'll get better by the end of the season," Andes said. "We're still developing and growing. Some of our guys are still growing into their bodies and we'll have something at some point, but we're just not there yet."
Where the Tigers are, however, is already ahead of where they were when they began in the summer.
"Our summer wasn't bad," Andes said. "We won some game, which was better than last summer, but the biggest thing was a majority of our kids played. And because of that, I've already seen growth in the guys, as players, and I can tell they've gotten better."
However, Shadyside didn't have its full complement of players for much of the month because of the extended football season.
One of the aspects where Andes and his staff have spent the most time during the pre-season is trying to determine exactly who can play in terms of logging the most varsity minutes.
"Because of being delayed due to football, we just don't have that mesh yet of who will be starting or playing (a lot)," Andes said. "We've got a lot of guys battling for minutes. It's just one of those years where you just don't know because of all of the new faces."
Regardless of who's on the floor, Andes realizes there will be some growing pains forthcoming.
"We're going to make mistakes ... I realize that," Andes said. "We're going to play a lot of veteran teams, so there will be some nerves. We'll be a work-in-progress."
Shadyside's roster, while it's young in age, does boast skill, which has led to the offense being ahead of the defense thus far.
"We're going to get up and down and we want to push the basketball," Andes confessed. "We've got some guys who are streaky shooters right now, so we think they'll become more consistent as the season goes along. The potential is there for us to be a really good shooting team."
Defensively, is where the need to grow into their bodies is rearing its ugly head for the Tigers.
"Our defensive approach could be different based on who we're playing because of our personnel," Andes said. "The strength factor just isn't there for us right now."
The Tigers have just 14 players out for the squad in grades 9-12, but Andes is confident they'll be able to maintain a jayvee squad for the entire season. Of those 14, one is injured and Andes isn't sure of the timetable on his return.
"Our numbers are low, but we'll do our best to save quarters and make the best of it," Andes said.
Frizzi (6-2) came on toward the end of last season and saw more minutes. The southpaw is an adept perimeter shooter.
"He's really grown and that's helped him," Andes said. "He's a good shooter and we'll ask him to score more for us."
Nardo (5-10) was a spark plug on both ends off the bench last winter. He, too, will be asked to saddle a bigger load.
"Luke plays hard all the time," Andes said. "He's a good defender and I think he'll step up his scoring some. He's worked hard on his offensive skills."
Andes is high on his sophomore class, which includes six players.
Shane Johnson (6-3), who saw some action late in the season, will become a regular in the lineup this season.
"Shane got thrown in there a little bit last season," Andes said. "He plays the game all the time and has improved."
John Michael Schuetz (5-9) is another basketball junkie who will take on a bigger role.
"John Michael is another guy who plays all the time," Andes said. "He and Shane played a lot together in AAU, so they've got a lot of time invested."
Travis Fulton (6-3) has improved his offensive skills, according to the head coach. He's another who will be thrown into more action.
Logan Cline (5-11) will see time on the perimeter. The guard spot is an area where Andes has the most depth.
"I think we'll be able to rotate guys based on how they're playing because our guards are very similar, both in size and skill," Andes said.
The other two sophomores - Mark Fahey (6-3) and Josh McFarland (6-0) - will also be vying to get into the mix.
"Our sophomores are a good group," Andes noted. "I think chemistry will be big for us and so far it's been good."
Two other juniors seeking action are Jake Gregan (6-0) and Tre Myers (6-0).
Freshmen Jesse Cain (5-6), Austin Carroll (5-10), Colby Sherwood (6-1) and Chase Wade (6-2) round out the roster.
Shadyside's schedule underwent a minor change.
The Tigers will now play a home-and-home series against Harrison Central. They played the Huskies once last winter. They dropped Madonna, allowing for the two games against Harrison.
"Whether we're going to be good or bad, I've always tried to keep the schedule as close to the same as possible," Andes said. "We think it's a challenging schedule for us."
Andes' coaching staff includes his oldest son, Jared, coaching the reserves; Mike Schlanz working with the frosh; Jay Thomas guides the eighth grade and Mike Beck leads the seventh grade.
"Not having much turnover in the coaching staff has definitely been a good thing," Andes said.
Shadyside opens the season Tuesday at home against Bridgeport.