Watkins Memorial High School boys basketball coach Todd Phillips isn't lamenting a delayed start.

Watkins Memorial High School boys basketball coach Todd Phillips isn't lamenting a delayed start.

Friday's opener at Licking Valley has been moved to Jan. 10, and the first OCC-Capital Division game Dec. 9 at Big Walnut has been rescheduled for Jan. 14 after both schools advanced to the state semifinals in football. The Warriors instead open Dec. 12 at home against league-rival New Albany.

"Considering what we've come through and playing a lot of young kids, we're OK with it," Phillips said. "Practice time is practice time. You can't replace that."

As many as four sophomores, including junior left-handed shooting guard and Reynoldsburg transfer Quincy Smith, could see playing time. One of the four seniors, 6-foot-3 center Jonathan Smith, is playing for the first time. The sophomores include Devonte Marable, a possible point guard of the future, and guard Cameron Foutty, a good rebounder currently sidelined with a concussion. The other sophomore is guard D.J. Collins.

Still, seniors Josh Thomas, Tyler Arnott and Ricardo Hall are the backbone of the lineup and four juniors form a group Phillips said provides energy and passion.

Thomas, a 6-4 wing player who can post up, will be a focal point after he averaged 10 points and eight rebounds a year ago as the Warriors struggled from the start, finishing 1-20 overall after a 60-23 loss to top-seeded Columbus Northland in the first round of the Division I district tournament. Arnott, who along with Thomas led the team in minutes played, is a 6-2 wing player, and Hall takes over at point guard. Hall, was named the football team's MVP, played as a freshman and sophomore but not last year.

"He gives us a speed element we haven't had in a few years," said Phillips, who is 5-38 entering his third season.

Hall also is expected to be a defensive catalyst, as are junior guards Cory Christman and Corey Weisenstein. The other juniors are Daylen Stewart, whom Phillips said is the team's best pure shooter, and Clayton Nixon, a 6-3 post player who played quarterback in football.

The Warriors went 1-9 last season in the OCC-Capital won by Dublin Scioto (10-0), which has been moved to the OCC-Cardinal. Mount Vernon, Olentangy Orange and Delaware are the newcomers, and Hilliard Bradley will join next year when it opens.

"The sexy pick in the league is Mount Vernon," Phillips said. "People like them a lot, and Orange, too. I think there's some parity, and you can't ever count New Albany out, either."

Phillips isn't promising to deliver a championship but is confident the Warriors will make a better showing.

"We're guard-heavy and athletic like never before," he said. "We're not talking about number of wins or anything. We're talking about making a positive move."