MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Barry University men's basketball assistant coach Ryan Saunders sat in his office around mid-day Tuesday in the upper level of the School of Human Performance and Leisure Science building, pondering the prospects.
It was the first day the Buccaneers could officially practice as a team -- the Oct. 15 springs eternal giddy day of hope when college basketball teams across the country "Nike up" in preparation for a new season.
Barry University ushers in a new brand of basketball in 2013-14 with new personnel, new dynamics, new variables and a new sense of belief.
"I think it's exciting for the the university to have a new coach in Coach (Butch) Estes and 10 new players as we transition into a new era of Barry basketball," Saunders said, leaning back in his chair, thoughts of the ball pounding on the hardwood creeping in.
"We're already building team chemistry, and when you have a new team with new players and new coaches, how quickly you form that chemistry will determine how good you're going to be."
How good the Bucs will be starts now.
It all takes shape on the court in the building underneath the offices where the Bucs basketball braintrusts are authoring the changes to begin Barry's basketball new crusade.
"We're going to be better because the style of play will appeal to the fans, and we found a number of players that fit in well with Coach's up-tempo style of play," Saunders said. "We have a lot of local South Florida guys, and we want to build a foundation. We brought in guys with experience.
"I just think we have a really unique group of guys. Even though we haven't been together that long, we've been bonding really well."
Bonds for an up-tempo, passionate brand of basketball played with emotion will be Barry's modus operandi in 2013-14. Of course, all of that means nothing if Ws don't fill the schedule when it's all said and done.
"You have to win, you have to earn people's respect," Saunders said.
He paused, and thought back to the LeBron James shirt newcomer Adrian Gonzalez was wearing in a pre-season team gathering just days before basketball could officially start practicing as a unit. It read: "EARNED, not given."
"That's going to be (the case) with everything we get," Saunders said. "We do that by winning, building a program. Ultimately, you got to win and have success."