From Neumann-Goretti's rigorous nonleague schedule, one might think it automatically reloaded and was ready for any and all challengers after losing Tony Chennault, The Inquirer's 2009-10 Southeastern Pennsylvania player of the year, and three others to Division I programs.
"It's not overwhelming, but it's certainly demanding," 13th-year coach Carl Arrigale said.
In addition to a 13-game Catholic League slate, the Saints, fresh off winning a PIAA Class AAA state championship, will play reigning AAAA state titlist Plymouth Whitemarsh, Christ the King (N.Y.), Reading Central Catholic, Council Rock North, and Mount Vernon (N.Y.).
This time, they'll head into battle with just one Division I signee: 5-foot-9 senior point guard Lamin Fulton, bound for St. Peter's.
Chennault (now at Wake Forest), Tyreek Duren (La Salle), Mustafaa Jones (Hartford), and Danny Stewart (Rider) have moved on.
Over the last four years, Neumann-Goretti went 97-20. It's now up to the quick-footed Fulton to carry the torch.
Because of the departures, Arrigale, owner of a 271-72 career record, knows there are many questions surrounding this year's group.
"We're going to be really, really young," the coach said.
"We're not expecting to be 30-1 again. We should be good by the end of the year, though. I do expect that."
Can depleted Neumann-Goretti repeat as Catholic League and District 12 Class AAA champ?
Do the Saints have enough talent to make a repeat trip to Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center, where they nipped District 7's Chartiers Valley, 65-63, in March?
"It's way too early to predict," Arrigale said. "But I can say that I like our enthusiasm, our intensity, and the potential of some of our younger players."
Joining forces with Fulton, a third-team all-Catholic selection, are 6-5 junior forward Derrick Stewart, Danny's brother, and 5-8 junior combination guard Billy Shank.
The Saints did not add any high-profile transfers in the off-season, as had been widely rumored. But they were boosted by the arrival of two promising freshmen, 6-1 swingman JaQuan Newton and 6-4 forward Jamal Custis.
Also in the mix are three sophomores who saw limited time last season: 6-3 forward Johnny Davis, 6-5 forward Matt Rodden, and 5-9 guard Hanif Sutton. Laquan Coaxum, a 5-10 junior guard, came over from Cardinal Dougherty.
"We might play differently, as far as style goes, than we did last year," Arrigale said. "We have to find out what works best for us."
Neumann-Goretti is trying for its third straight Catholic League crown and seventh (St. John Neumann in 2001 and 2002) in the last 11 years.
"It should be an interesting season," Arrigale said. "I think there are four or five teams with a chance to win the whole thing. I'd like to think that we're one of them."