He wants to run an up-tempo offense, but lacks a proven player at point guard.
He preaches the need for leadership and maturity, but the individual who provided both last season, Wardell Chambers, has moved on to a four-year school.
So why isn't Mark Amatucci worried? Because he's too busy focusing on the potential in his Anne Arundel Community College men's basketball team.
The third-year coach says his Pioneers, who play Montgomery-Rockville at 6 p.m. tomorrow at home, have "a lot of ammunition to replace" after losing most of last year's team, which won 25 gamesand nearly earned a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association nationals.
Amatucci has two big guns returning in Meade graduates Ray Osborne (6-foot-1) and James Sharps (6-3), who should provide much of the scoring along with newcomer Keith Thompson, a 6-foot swingman from Lake Clifton.
Thompson netted a team-high 24 points in the Pioneers' 88-84 season-opening victory over Columbia Union Sunday night. Osborne, a shooting guard, added 23, as Anne Arundel rallied from a 20-point deficit in the first half.
Similar efforts are needed throughout the year to compensate for the loss of guard/forward Chambers (now at Division II Bloomsburg (Pa.) State College), center Butch Williams, guard Ron Wade and forward Tommy Rose.
"When you talk about the physical aspects of the game, we'll miss the strength Butch gave us in the middle and the steady play of Tommy. And with Ron, you could depend on him to hit the three-point shot," Amatuccisaid.
Sophomore Mike Davis (6-5) of Archbishop Spalding has replaced Williams in the middle -- a tall order for anyone, let alone a player who spent more time on the bench than on the floor last season.
"He's been a very pleasant surprise," Amatucci said. "We're not expecting Mike to do all the things Butch did, but in his own type of game, we're expecting him to play defense and give us some rebounding and some leadership. And he's done that a little beyond what was expected at this point."
With Jay Mouzon not returning this year, the starting point guard spot is occupied by fellow Meade graduate DorienFullilove (5-9), an integral part of the Pioneers' transition game. He's backed up by Ralph Purnell (5-9) of Lake Clifton.
Sophomore point guard Carlos Hall (6-0) of Chesapeake will be eligible the second semester, along with newcomers Jamal Harris (6-2) of Southern-Baltimore and Lester Lee (6-2) of South River.
Anne Arundel's tallest player is 6-6 freshman Boyd Murphy of South River. Two other freshmen,Steve Mackey of Meade and DarylReid of Chesapeake, stand 6-5 and 6-4, respectively.
"Size is going to be a problem. We don't have a large team. Everyone will have to do double duty in terms of reboundingthe basketball before we get out on the break," Amatucci said.
Asusual, the Pioneers will apply half-court and full-court pressure whenever possible, and sophomore guard/forward Andy Srebroski -- the career leader in steals at Northeast -- gives Amatucci another capable defender.
Srebroski (6-2) was a member of the Pioneers' baseball team last summer, but didn't play basketball. He scored nine points against Columbia Union while splitting time at small forward and shooting guard.
"He's rusty now. He hasn't played in a couple years. Butthe more he plays, the better he gets," Amatucci said.
Adding depth to the backcourt is freshman Alvin Gross (6-0) of Southern.
"We're looking to play eight or nine people consistently," Amatucci said.
Anne Arundel, which lost to Prince George's, 92-90, in the Region XX finals last season, is ineligible for postseason play and the junior college national rankings this winter because of NJCAA sanctions.
But the one-year probation isn't a topic of conversation among the coaches and athletes.
"They know we can't go, but we're not even bringing it up," Amatucci said. "We're establishing a positive, winning tradition and that's what we want to talk about and continue."