ANDERSON — Joe Nadaline's first two years as the Anderson boys basketball coach had a similar theme as an experienced core of players fought to rebuild the program.
And it worked.
The Indians improved from four wins to nine in Nadaline's debut season, and then jumped to a 16-6 overall record and a Madison County championship a year ago.
But seven seniors — including mainstays Jalin Beard, Chris Lemon and Tre Boyd — graduated from that team, and Anderson finds itself starting over this season.
The varsity roster for tonight's opener at Lapel features five sophomores and a freshman, and it's already changed the way Nadaline approaches practice. He's had to catch himself at times, making sure to slow down and re-teach details about his system that had become second nature for much of last year's team.
"It's a very talented group of young players, and the sky's the limit for them," Nadaline said. "But it's just a process. You've gotta crawl before you can walk."
That process was made a little more difficult by — of all things — the Brebeuf Jesuit football team.
The Braves were supposed to serve as Anderson's home opener Saturday. But the football team's 35-14 victory against Gibson Southern on Friday night clinched the program's first trip to the Class 3A state finals next weekend. As a result, Brebeuf asked to reschedule the basketball game. It will now be played Jan. 28.
That leaves the Tribe with a lengthy break after tonight's game. Anderson will travel to Fort Wayne Snider on Dec. 7 and won't make its home debut until six days later against Guerin Catholic. It's not an ideal situation, but there's little that can be done about it.
Nadaline will use the extra time to keep seasoning his young players. And he'll have help from his few returning lettermen.