The Mountain Home Tigers are opening their boys 2012-13 basketball season this week with a different look.
Brion Bethel takes over as head coach the Tigers, who have just one starter and three players back that saw any action last year on a team that went 3-19 overall.
This year's turnout for the Tiger high school boys basketball program has Coach Bethel pleased.
"We actually ended up with about 32 players for the program, which is two more than we expected," the coach said. "So I'm pleasantly surprised and happy with the bunch of boys we've got."
Coach Bethel indicated the varsity squad will not be at full strength as the Tigers open their season this week.
"We've got a few guys that are hurt and have a few that won't be back until December and a few guys that won't play until next semester," the coach said. "We've got a bunch of young kids, with four or five underclassmen, and we have what I think is a good group of kids."
Discipline and work ethic were areas the new Tiger head coach sees as pluses for this year's squad.
"We have a lot of discipline and they work hard every practice," he said. "We're lacking a little bit of basketball IQ, but what we're lacking in basketball IQ, we're making up for in work ethic. These kids are disciplined and they work hard, so I think we're going to be okay."
Three players return from last year's squad, led by returning starter Michael Daniels. The 5-foot, 10-inch senior averaged 6.6 points a game last year as a junior.
The 6-foot, 1-inch senior Doug Long also has returned, after going down with a knee injury in the seventh game of the season last year, and 6-foot, 1-inch senior Tyler Elliott, who split time between the varsity and junior varsity last year, is back for the Tigers.
Bethel looks at Bishop Kelly as the favorite in the 4A Southern Idaho Conference, but sees the conference to have several tough teams.
"They (Bishop Kelly) are going to be tough -- they've got bigs all the way around. Nampa's going to be tough -- they've got a few transfers -- same for Columbia, they've got a few transfers. I think Bishop Kelly will probably be the team to beat, though."
A trademark Bethel hopes to see in this year's Tiger basketball team that will help them be a team to be reckoned with by district tournament time is their tough man-to-man defense.
"We're really working hard on our man-to-man defense and a lot of new terminology they're trying to learn that they haven't done in the past. It's gong to be a short learning curve for them. They've got a lot to get done, but I think by tournament time we'll be okay."
The Tigers opened their season Tuesday night at Rocky Mountain, and play Mountain View in their home opener on Friday night. Bethel welcomes the challenge of playing the two 5A schools.
"They'll show us what we need to see about ourselves. Rocky Mountain's got a lot of bigs that will test our inside defense, and Mountain View has full court pressure. Our guards are a bit young and inexperienced, so these games will give us an opportunity to figure out what we've got to do to get these guys where they need to be.
"I know it sounds crazy, but we couldn't have picked two better teams to start with. This is exactly what we need to get our season going."
The Tigers open their conference schedule next week, playing at Skyview on Dec. 5 and at home against Bishop Kelly on Dec. 7.