The expectations for the upcoming boys' basketball season are high for three of the four local teams, as Burroughs High, Burbank and Bellarmine-Jefferson each believe that a league championship, or a top-three finish in league, is possible.
The other local squad, Providence, is also expecting to have a successful season, but its coach has had just more than a dozen practices and said he's looking for his team to continue to improve.
Each team will get an opportunity to gauge its expectations when the season begins. Bell-Jeff was the first local to see regular-season action when it played host to Armenian General Benevolent Union on Tuesday.
A week later, Burroughs will play Sierra Canyon in the Simi Valley Tournament and Burbank will take on Hollywood in its annual Burbank Tournament on Dec. 3.
Providence first-year Coach Chris Madigan won’t have any more time to evaluate his team before its season-opener, which will take place Dec. 3 in the paul Sutton Tournament.
The Indians went 5-9 in league last year, tied with Hoover for fifth place and lost to Cyrpess, 50-40, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs.
Burroughs Coach Adam Hochberg, as well as other coaches in the area, expects the Indians to be much better than last year.
That's thanks to transfers Amaad Wainwright and Rashid Ewing from Kansas City, Mo., who have drawn rave reviews among local coaches. Hochberg said he expects Wainwright to be a future NCAA Division I player and Ewing to be a game-changer on both ends of the floor.
The pair, both seniors, will join John Cutone, as well as six other returners from last year's squad.
"We think we can be pretty good," Hochberg said. "With the guys that are coming in, I think we can compete. If we continue to play with one another, the sky is the limit."
The Bulldogs, who finished 7-7 in league in 2012-13, a spot ahead of Burroughs, won't concede local bragging rights to the Indians.
"If we're a healthy team, I expect us to be pretty good," said Bulldog Coach Jerry DeLaurie, who, in his first year at the helm led his squad to an upset of No. 15 seed Loara in the first round of the Division I-A playoffs before it played tough with second-seeded Santa Monica in an eventual 58-46 loss.
"I'm going to be disappointed if we're not in the top half of league."
DeLaurie will have a senior-laden team, led by returning captain Richard Elmoyan, a second-team all-league selection a year ago. Elmoyan should be joined in the starting five by fellow seniors Anthony Kardosh, Adam Pasco, Cody Bosman and Danny Terranes.
"All five of those guys were on the team together last year, and there is no reason we can't be in the thick of things this year," DeLaurie said. "We finished in fourth in league last year, but we would like to finish even higher this year. We think we could contend with anybody. We've worked hard this last year."
Guards Coach Julian Andrade wouldn't predict where his team might finish in league.
He does know, though, that he might have a talented squad by mid-season, as transfers Miles Hopkins (from Pacific Christian), Issac Etter (Maranatha) and Clark Thomas (Renaissance Academy) will likely join All-Santa Fe League returners Malcolm Regisford and Abid Oses in the starting lineup.
Last season, Regisford earned All-Santa Fe League first-team and All-CIF second-team honors, averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds a game.
"We're going to be pretty good, but it's going to take time," Andrade said. "I have a good feeling it's going to be a good year.
"On paper, we'll be more talented with the new guys this year."
Last year, Bell-Jeff finished second in league and advanced to the Division V-AA playoffs. The eighth-seeded Guards fell to top-seeded Village Christian, 70-63, on the road in the quarterfinals.
"We'll shoot a little higher this year," said Andrade, whose team will play in Division V-A this year.
Madigan has been striving to have his team learn the basics of the offense and defense that he has been instilling through tough practices.
He'll also field a talented team, as he'll rely on Brian Cabagnot, Brandon Reyes, Jon Ly, Harrison Pyros and Ethan Jacobsen to fill the void of Providence's departed stars.
During the 2012-13 season, highly touted sophomore Marcus LoVett Jr., an All-State player and All-Area Player of the Year in 2012, was sidelined with an illness. LoVett left the squad before the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign and transferred out of the school. The Pioneers also lost one of its best returning player when senior Christian Ware-Berry transferred to West Ranch during the summer.
Madigan, who was most recently the head coach at Bellflower St. John Bosco, where he headed the program for seven years, said he won't get caught up in thinking about the players he lost.
"Let's get caught up in what we have right now," he said. "I have no background with last year. The past is the past. I don't get the sense that the kids are looking backward.
"We're a work in progress. It's a day-by-day process. I'm looking at the guys to make sure that everyone is on the same page."