Refreshed and rejuvenated after an extended offseason trip home to the U.S., Tasmania JackJumpers head coach Scott Roth can't wait for NBL23 to tip.
Roth signed an extension soon after guiding the JackJumpers to a fairy tale Grand Final appearance in their first season in the league.
"I'm very grateful to come back here. It's actually a four-year contract, the three years are talked about, but the fourth year is to see how I feel and where we are at with everything," Roth told ESPN's Ball and the Real World podcast.
"It was hugely important for me if I was going to continue down this road that there was stability in the program. Part of my contract was also giving the other coaches an extra year on their contract to make sure of that stability."
Bringing back the majority of their roster from last season, only imports Josh Adams and MiKyle McIntosh won't return from the core rotation last season, with Milton Doyle and Rashard Kelly incoming.
"Chemistry to me is a high commodity and this group had it. I feel good about the local players that we brought back, bringing (Josh) Magette back was important, he's the accountant who keeps us all in line and then Milt and Rashard add depth," Roth said.
"Rashard has some size, he's a good rebounder and then a bigger guard in Milt who has some veteran games under his belt, has length, he's a facilitator so I think we're very solid again. I wouldn't say we'll be overwhelming in terms of talent where people say, 'oh my god, they have so many guys.' I've said this all along, we have good players, but we have great role players."
Preaching culture and stability, Roth understands the JackJumpers are taking a different approach to some other teams in the league, firmly standing by the methodology.
"There are a lot of teams in this league that don't have any culture in my opinion, they don't have anything they are really standing for except reloading and going to find new players again.
"For me, this is an entire state we are representing, I want it to be right and ensure we put out a good product every year and we are fighting for the playoffs and trying to win championships but something sustainable and long lasting. When you speak of the JackJumpers you know it will be grit and grind and tough guys and a tough mentality."
The lead up to opening night has already encountered injury issues, with captain Clint Steindl set to miss the first month of the season with stress reactions in his leg. The JackJumpers have announced former Illawarra Hawk, Isaac White as an injury replacement.
The bigger question mark centres around starting centre Will Magnay, with the big man still struggling with bone bruising in his knee. Magnay was restricted to just 11 appearances last season and Roth admits he is no certainty for opening night.
"It's a concern. We are concerned. He is progressing to some level but then it's been slow the last weeks. We'll just have to see how it goes in the next few weeks, it's a nasty injury that doesn't really seem to affect him structurally but that rubbing across the top of the kneecap is not great," Roth admitted.
"I don't know if he'll be ready to go October 1st, we'll just have to see. We are in the market and looking, we may have to find another replacement player of some sort in the short term or find a developmental player."
Roth revealed the team looked at potentially adding another big man with one of the import slots, though he believes Kelly can play above his size, particularly on the glass. In the absence of Magnay, Fab Krslovic and Jarred Bairstow would once again assume significant roles as they did last season.
The Cinderella story of the league in NBL22, Roth admits excitement levels are as high as they've ever been for the JackJumpers in Tasmania, though he cautions the road ahead might not produce the magic of a season ago.
"The excitement is still going. I landed in Sydney airport seven days ago, I was at the baggage claim and a flight came in from France and a guy yelled 'hey Scott Roth, Coach of the Year! I'm a Sydney fan but you guys were awesome!'.
"It's the infancy of this journey, we can't get carried away with what happened last year. It was a perfect storm, maybe once in 20 or 30 years an expansion team can go all the way to the Grand Finals.
"For us, it's turning the page, we've only played 34 games in the history of this franchise and let's just not get carried away, we're going to take some lumps. We haven't been punched in the mouth yet, we haven't been knocked down. We're going to go through some hard times."
While he may keep expectations realistic in his own mind, the postseason is an obvious goal. To reach that mark, they'll have to contend with a number of teams across the league who have been adding multiple stars in free agency, making the road to the Play-In tournament a treacherous path on paper.
"Adelaide has loaded up; Perth has reloaded, and these teams are impactfully bringing in big time players. Obviously, Brisbane is throwing their hat in the ring. Us down in Tassie, it's about the pack, not one wolf but the pack. Our pack is only as strong as our group and the group is what it's about down here.
"We'll just mind our own business down here and send eleven guys out on the court to play as hard as we possibly can. Talent is in the eyes of the beholder; you only need five on the floor and you have to have the right chemistry to win and if the talent isn't managed well, it's just talent at the end of the day and it's hard to get across the line.
"There's a lot of really good players, the league is getting more exciting, and it should be an interesting season."