For the past two seasons, the Tigers have relied heavily on Eric Bridges to lead the way, and the team went 41-13 over that stretch.
Bridges is now gone, though, and so are a handful of other players who helped the Tigers go 19-8 a year ago, and 22-5 the season before that.
As the Tigers took the court for the first time last week, only one player - Lakeithin Buckner - was a returning starter.
Nearly every other player on the team will be getting their first significant varsity playing time this season.
“We don’t have many with experience coming back,” veteran head coach Thermond Billingslea said. “(Buckner) was the only one. Daryl (Dunlap) played some, but he didn’t finish the season last year. But you have to go play.”
Things have gone well so far.
Competing in the Lafayette Tipoff Tournament in Lafayette, Ala., Troup went 2-0 and won the tournament championship with an 81-78 victory over Valley, Ala.
On Friday, Troup will look to make it 3-0 when it visits Northside-Columbus.
On Monday, Billingslea directed his varsity and junior-varsity players through a rigorous practice that lasted more than two hours.
While a lot of the players who’ll be getting most of the minutes this season will be new, the Troup way of doing things will remain the same.
“It ain’t no secret what we’re going to do,” said Billingslea, who has always stressed a defense-first philosophy and an up-tempo style of play. “We’re going to do what we’ve always done, and we’ll just try to do it better. We’ll have to rely on team ball a lot this year.”
Buckner will be a key part of what the Tigers do.
He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season behind Bridges, and he got his season off to a fast start in the tournament last week with 20 points in the opening game, and 25 points in the championship game.
“Hopefully he’ll be our leader,” Billingslea said.
As for the rest of the players, Billingslea said it’s important that they apply themselves during practice and keep striving to better themselves.
“It’s a young team. They need to learn as much as we can teach them,” Billingslea said.
Billingslea also said it’s critical that everyone gets along, since he figures the last thing this team needs are divisive issues.
“I don’t want any distractions,” he said. “We’ll try to keep folks from ruining it. You have to develop chemistry. We know what we have to do.”