BELOIT - Tim Richert may be the new kid on the block, but he already knows all about the bullies.
"The Big Eight is one of the best Division 1 conferences in Wisconsin," Beloit Memorial's first-year head coach said.
Richert figures his Purple Knights will be lightly regarded heading into Big Eight play. Not only is he a newcomer to the league, nearly all of his players are new to the varsity as well.
"We lost pretty much everybody who played much last year," Richert sai. "I don't want to call it rebuilding, but we'll have a whole new system and it's going to take time. We do have some good young talent, though, and we'll move in the right direction."
The Knights lost four All-Big Eight players to graduation. Senior 6-foot-5 post player Anthony Johnson earned Second Team honors, Drew Freitag and Jequan Pegeese earned Third Team honors and Fred Brown was awarded Honorable Mention.
Johnson, now at Madison College, averaged nearly a double-double in conference and finished at 12 points and nine rebounds per game. Pegeese led Beloit at 13.3 points per game while Freitag averaged 12.9 points and converted 50 3-pointers. Pegeese is at Lakeland College and Freitag at Edgewood,
"Our biggest concern is obviously lack of experience," Richert said. "Lack of size is also a concern and we have to develop some more shooters."
The Knights have plenty of candidates to play guard. Tops at the point are 5-5 Trayvon "Bonzi" Fair and 5-9 JJ Chandler II.
"Bonzi is small, but he has a big heart and he's fast," Richert said. "He's all over the place. He can score, see the floor well and he's so low to the ground it's hard to take the ball from him. I really love JJ's demeanor on the floor. He's very steady and he knows the game."
As for shooting guard, Richert has been impressed with the three-point accuracy of Byron Matthews Jr., but has plenty of Knights to choose from, including 6-foot Kyle Hereford, 5-10 Mar'Kai Payne, 5-11 Terrel Ringer, 5-11 Malik Young, 5-10 junior Chamar White and his 5-10 sophomore brother Seven White.
Up front, there's some decent size, some quickness and a lot of strength in players like Reese Collins (6-6), Armon Roberts (6-5), Kamryn Bach (6-4) and Amaurii Grosskopf (6-4), who was an All-Big Eight defensive lineman this past fall and a former wrestler.
Rounding out the roster are Amariah Cook (6-2), Terrel Ringer (5-11), John Rodriguez (6-0) and Antonious Trammell-Butler (6-2).
Richert said the team may lack any superstars, but he likes its balance.
"We should be able to go 10 deep and I'll have the opportunity to play different styles," he said. "We've got the big, bangers and I can definitely go with a quicker lineup as well. It's nice to have that versatility. Everyone seems to be buying into the system and that means trusting your teammates and sharing the ball.
"I think for us to be successful we are going to have to do that."
As for a starting lineup, Richert said he's still working on one heading into a scrimmage Saturday at Kettle Moraine which will include Milwaukee Hamilton, Franklin and Milwaukee South.
"Who starts a game isn't as important as who finishes it anyway," Richert said. "I plan on subbing a lot."
The Knights will start for real Nov. 24 when they host Milwaukee Vincent (5 p.m. tipoff).