When Jason Booher left Shelby Valley after leading them to a State title to take the Holmes job, he envisioned himself and his staff doing big things in Covington.
After back-to-back first round exits in the 9th Region Tournament and a 23-7 record last season, Coach Booher feels he finally has the type of team that he expected to have when he took the position.
"When I took this job, this years' team is the type of team I expected to have. We may not be the biggest, but we will pressure the heck out of teams with our speed, quickness, and athleticism. No longer will you see us use the 2-2-1 press and then drop back in to a 2-3 match up zone. Teams will have to come ready to play against us. I think our defense is going to be really good."
Holmes will be tested early. They will play 16 games in December alone, including a game against New Rochelle out of New York, who was the #1 ranked team in the country two years ago.
Holmes will have to replace their best player from last years' team in Dontel Rice, but Coach Booher is confident his team will be fine.
"I really like our depth. We will play fast this year and I think across the board be more balanced. I don't see anyone averaging 20 and 10 like Dontel did, but you will see several guys in double figures on a nightly basis. You can definetly see a difference in the attitude of this years' team compared to last as well."
Leading the Bulldogs this season will be three seniors that have been playing varsity since their sophomore year.
Guards Quan Palmer and BJ Coston return once again to form one of the best backcourts in the region.
"Quan Palmer will hopefully have an even more productive year since he won't have the load of handling the ball fulltime," said Booher.
"Leadership, controlling the ball, and keeping everything under control are my best assets," said Palmer.
BJ Coston, who is also the starting QB for the Dogs, is still getting in basketball shape but his outside shooting should be a big asset for Holmes this season. When asked what he brought to the team, the always confident Coston was quick with the following response.
"Three pointers! ... It's on. I'm gonna fill it up."
The other senior for the Dogs is Forward Chris Englemon. After a bumpy road throughout his first two seasons under Coach Booher, the light seems to finally have come on for the talented, athletic forward.
"Chris' attitude is probably one of the best on the team," said Coach Booher. "Duke - as his teammates and coaches call him - looks like a different player. He is finally healthy this year. His knees were bothering him severely all last year. He is very aggressive now and is our motor inside."
Englemon will bring a post presence on defense and pick his spots offensively, but will have help from 6'5 transfer Quentin Chames who was at Holy Cross last year. Chames showed several athletic moves around the rim and will be the above the rim play-maker that Rice was last year for the Dogs.
"Coming from Holy Cross, I'm just trying to blend in with the team, " said Chames. "Dontel (Rice) was an attribute last year. I'm just trying to help the team. I'm a big boy so as a post player I've got good post moves."
The offense will go as far as talented sophomore James "Beedle" Bolden takes them, however.
"Bolden should have his break out year with a few bumps in the road while learning to take over as the starting point guard. Everyone is expecting for him to be the best PG in NKY shortly. I think he can be with a little more experience. He has worked hard in the weight room and added 8-10 pounds of muscle this year," said Booher.
Quan Palmer, who will be one of the biggest beneficiaries to Bolden running the point, had similar things to say about the point guard when asked about his role on this year's team.
"He'll make sure everyone does what they're supposed to be doing," said Palmer. "He's still learning but he's almost there."
The five mentioned above aren't the only ones you should expect to make contributions though.
Here's a little more of what Coach Booher had to say about his team:
"Daquan Glover could be the surprise of the team. He is a 6'2 forward who can shoot the 3 at a very high percentage, very athletic and has a great passion for the game. He plays every possession like it's his last."
Also expected to make a contribution is junior Keyontae Herndon, who has been with the program since his freshman year.
"I don't want to brag on him, but man he has looked good. The kid is extremely athletic and talented."
One of the biggest surprises has been the emergence of freshman Andrew Arnold (6'3 F) who was part of last year's Holmes' 8th Grade State Championship team that went 31-1 on the year.
"Arnold is gonna be a good one," said Holmes assistant Bud Wimzie. "He is a man out there."
If this Holmes team is as good as the players and coaches are expecting, it could be another special year in Covington for the Bulldogs.
"Rupp Arena . ." said the three seniors and Chames when asked where they expect to be come March. "We have lost the past two years (in the Regional Tournament) and we are tired of it," said Palmer. "It starts with our defense. We just have to continue to get better in practice."
Holmes will open their season November 27th at Newport.