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Troy hoops gearing up

With Midnight Madness out of the way, the Troy Trojan basketball team is now focusing on making it to the next kind of madness in March.

The team will have to do so with all new faces however.

For the first time in their careers together, Don Maestri and David Felix will be coaching a team that lost all five starters from the previous season.

“This is the most inexperienced team that we had, plus we have been dealing with some injuries going into the season,” Maestri said.

The only players returning this season who have had sometime playing in Troy’s program are Vernon Taylor, Levan Patsatsia and Bernard Tombs.

“It’s going to take us a while to really find out who can make big shots, find out who can make a big steal, who can make free throws at the end of the game. All questions that last year’s team you didn’t have to worry about. These are questions that are going to take a while to answer (for this team),” the coach said.

On top of the lack of experience coming in, the Trojans will also have to deal with a tough schedule.

“We have 11 out of conference Division 1 games, nine of which come on the road,” Maestri said.

“We have had a very difficult time finding home games. Winning helps you more then anything else, home court advantage is so significant in basketball that you need to have more home games than away. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury this year.

The Trojans will take on three SEC schools during that stretch in Arkansas, Mississippi State and Alabama on the road, as well as Utah State. The two home games will be against UAB and Belmont.

As the regular season draws closer, Maestri said there are no expectations for his team in 2010.

“Whatever we can get is great,” he said.

“I really don’t think its fair to put a lot of expectations on this group because we just don’t know a lot of things about this group.

“Obviously, towards the end of the season we would like to be playing good basketball when the tournament comes around. I have found out this, if we win three games you go to the NCAA Tournament. So, if we can win three games this year at the right time – great expectations. That’s what this league is all about – the three in Hot Springs (Ark.),” Maestri said.

The coach mentioned that even with the difficulties his team is facing, it is still going to be a competitive group in a good league.

“We got a good group of kids, its just this league is tough, (it has) a lot of experience. There are five teams with four starters coming back, in North Texas, Lafayette, Denver, and Florida Atlantic – it’s going to be a very good league,” Maestri said.

“Hopefully, we are playing well toward the end of the year, by then we can’t say we aren’t experienced.”