WHEN BASKETBALL coach Bill Dooley notes that everyone is back at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, he's speaking in the literal sense.
As Dooley well knows, and continues to feel sad about, quality senior guard Luke Mulvaney, who'd been thriving in his transition from wing sniper to floor leader, has been lost to a major knee injury.
Nevertheless, SCH does return a pair of Division I signees in guard Billy Dooley (American; you-know-who's son) and forward Malik Garner (UMBC), and the role players are older and better polished.
Does that mean an Inter-Ac League championship?
Hey, in a season that promises to be extra competitive, it could translate to middle of the pack.
Malvern Prep, the defending outright champ, returns the league MVP, wing guard Brendan Kilpatrick (Vermont), as well as frisky point guard Steve Perpiglia and forward Tom Pitt.
Germantown Academy looks to its small-tall combo of 5-10 guard Nick Lindner and 6-9 Julian Moore.
Tall is a somewhat relative term, however. At Haverford School, freshly arrived from China, you'll find 7-foot Xu Tao, who was a member of that country's under-19 national team. The most accomplished veteran is guard Zach Thomas.
Forward Brian Metzler and guard John Moderski are the top returnees at Episcopal Academy and Penn Charter, respectively.
There are two new coaches, and each was a first-team Daily News All-City honoree. In fact, PC's new boss, Lynard Stewart, was the Player of the Year for Simon Gratz in 1994. HS is now being steered by alumnus Henry "Doug" Fairfax ('99).
The league's annual tipoff tripleheader has been switched from a Saturday to a Friday. Date/site: Jan. 7 at Cabrini College, with games set for 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
Coach: Craig Conlin, 2nd year. Education: La Salle, La Salle. Career: 13-12.
Last year: 5-5, 13-12.
Savvy seven: Brian Metzler, 6-4, F; Matt Angelos, 6-1, G; Adam Strouss, 6-3, G-F; Chris McNeal, 6-foot, G; Markuan Stutts 6-3, F; Collin Wright, 5-10, G; Jack Schiel, 6-6, F-C.
Conlin's comment: "The lads are competing and defending hard for themselves and for each other!"
Coach: Jim Fenerty, 23rd year (also Egan, 1982-89). Education: Dougherty, La Salle. Career: 483-316; 422-178 at GA.
Last year: 5-5, 14-14.
Savvy seven: Julian Moore, 6-9, F; Nick Lindner, 5-10, G; James Drury, 6-2, G; Earl Edwards, 6-5, F; Greg Dotson, 6-6, G-F; Connor Crump, 6-foot, F; Cameron Retif, 6-1, F.
Fenerty's comment: "We have some very talented players who are working every day to become a team."
Coach: Henry "Doug" Fairfax, 1st year; Education: Haverford School, Drexel. Career: 0-0.
Last year: 5-5, 12-13.
Savvy seven: Zach Thomas, 5-10, G; RaShaan "Ray" Hollman, 5-11, G; Semaj Reed, 6-6, F; Eric Anderson, 6-5, G-F; Sammy Foreman, 6-foot, G; Xu Tao, 7-foot, C; Levan "Shawn" Alston, 6-3, G.
Fairfax' comment: "The kids are excited for the opportunity to compete at their highest possible level."
Coach: Jim Rullo, 6th year. Education: Malvern, Drexel. Career: 102-44.
Last year: 8-2, 24-7.
Savvy seven: Brendan Kilpatrick, 6-5, G; Steve Perpiglia, 5-10, G; Jimmy Gordon, 6-2, G; Tom Pitt, 6-4, F; Alex Dentinger, 6-3, F; Dennis Gabert, 5-11, G; Ryan Bonner, 5-9, G.
Rullo's comment: "We are trying to build off the success we had last year. The core group of seniors has led by working really hard this offseason. Making our opposition work for every basket is going to dictate how well we do."
Coach: Lynard Stewart, 1st year; Education: Gratz, Temple. Career: 0-0.
Last year: 2-8, 9-17.
Savvy seven: John Moderski, 5-9, G; Mike McGlinchey, 6-8, C; Sean O'Brien, 6-foot, G; Nick Lamb, 5-10, G; Dave Huber, 6-4, F; Grant Shaffer, 6-2, F; Demetrius Isaac, 5-6, G.
Stewart's comment: "If you don't believe, you don't belong. Only when one believes can one act purposefully. We at PC are installing beliefs."
Coach: Bill Dooley, 5th year (also Germantown Friends, 2006-07); Education: Rumson-Fair Haven (N.J.), Richmond. Career: 91-55; 69-32 at CHA.
Last year: 10-0, 21-4.
Savvy seven: Billy Dooley, 6-5, G; Malik Garner, 6-5, F; Bobby Keyes, 6-foot, G; Mike Hayes, 6-foot, F; Andrew Dowds, 6-2, F; Ryan Smith, 5-11, G; Patrick Costello, 6-1, G.
Dooley's comment: "We return everyone, but will have to overcome significant early-season injuries to key players. How well we do that, deal with game-to-game foul situations and gel as a unit will be the key factors determining the success of our season."
RETURNING ALL-INTER-AC PLAYERS (Selected by Coaches)
Brendan Kilpatrick, MP, G-F; Malik Garner, SCH, F; Billy Dooley, SCH, G.
*-Luke Mulvaney, SCH, G; Nick Lindner, G, jr.; Brian Metzler, EA, F; John Moderski, PC, G.