After playing in the shadows of last year's team, it's time for this year's team to develop its own identity.
Storm Lake finished 11-11 overall a year ago, but returns no starters this year.
The Tornadoes have A.J. Spielman, Brady Miller, Matt Nees and Tyler Youde back.
"Our success this year will happen if they gel early and create their own identity," Storm Lake coach Tim Keigan said. "They have always been in the shadows of last year's class, so they really need to come out and be themselves. Our posts will really have to be physical. This will be possible if our guards can step up and hit some shots. As usual, rebounding will be a huge factor again for us. We had success last year because we were relentless on the boards."
Keigan considered the strengths and concerns.
"Our strength will be perimeter shooting," he said. "I feel we have 3-4 very good shooters that we will use to open up the lane so our big guys can work. I also think we will be a very physical team, especially down low."
"Obviously, losing five starters and some of the better athletes to ever wear the green and white, experience, and game situations are my major concerns," Keigan said. "The kids just don't realize the mental and physical demands a full season in this conference is like. I wonder how, and if, this team can mesh together. For these juniors and seniors, it will be different because they really have never played together as a whole group before."
Keigan talked about the ways Storm Lake will be better this year.
"I think we have much better shooters than last year," he said. "We will be much more of a threat from 3 range than a year ago."
"I also think this year's squad will be deeper than a year ago. I think we have 10-11 guys who have a shot at some serious minutes."
Keigan assessed how his team will be offensively and defensively.
"We need to find some guys to fill the huge holes left by Jeff DeHaan and Scott Ellens," he said. "They really carried the offensive load last year. I think we will be able to fill it up from outside, and this will take a lot of pressure off of our young post players."
"We will still be an inside-out team and I have no doubt our forwards will be able to get us a lot of buckets. I am excited about having some kids this year who can really stroke the 3," Keigan added.
"Defensively, I think we will be a lot more aggressive as far as looking for steals and double teaming," Keigan added. "I think we are quicker as a whole than last year, so maybe we can get some steals and some quick and cheap buckets. Down low, we will be bigger, so I look for us to be very strong on the defensive boards."
Challenging for the Lakes Conference title will take a little fortune.
"Whether any coach wants to admit it, luck plays a huge factor on how a team does each year," Keigan said. "A team has to stay away from sickness and injuries and all the other outside distractions. We have to have a little luck as well as some leaders to step up if we are looking to have some success this season."
"The young kids in our program are going to have to contribute from the get-go. If we play as a team, and if guys know their roles, we should be just fine," Keigan added.
"Our conference is once again solid this year," Keigan said. "Spencer is the team to beat. They have so much experience coming back. Hull will be in there again I think. We can do some damage if things go our way and our kids believe in themselves and their teammates."