The New Richmond boys start the 2019-20 basketball season with talent, depth and experience. But if you want to see the Tigers in 2019, you’ll have to make a road trip.

The Tigers are defending Middle Border Conference co-champions and they bring back 12 players who were dressing for the varsity team at the end of the season. The Tigers were scheduled to start their MBC schedule without playing a non-conference game first, playing Monday at Osceola.

Leading the Tigers into battle are seniors Joey Kidder and Jack Stuedemann, who were both All-MBC selections last season. The Tigers graduated five seniors from last season. Coach Rick Montreal said the biggest void left by those players will be the strong leadership they provided for the team.

There are six seniors on this year’s edition of the Tigers and Montreal said they are saying all the right things at the start of the season.

“Early indications on these seniors is they’re ready to step up. The leadership piece has really caught my eye,” he said.

The depth piece is what makes the Tigers most dangerous. Montreal said all 12 players on the varsity roster are fully capable of playing extended minutes in any game. He said the challenge will be getting playing time for all 12. What impressed Montreal most is that all 12 players have told him they don’t care how much they play, they just want to win.

“We should compete for another conference title, based on last year to this year,” Montreal said of the team’s possibilities. “Our other big goal, when we get to that, in the second and third level playoff games, we want to be competitive.”

Montreal said the Tigers also want to be more successful in non-conference games, and area where the Tigers struggled badly last season.

One of the biggest changes for this season’s Tigers may have been the commitment the boys made to the weight room.

“We’ve gotten physically stronger, especially the older guys,” Montreal said. “I think those guys are prideful of that.”

The Tigers should be an entertaining team to watch. They plan to unleash the team’s athletes and let them run.

“We’ve got firepower on offense and we’re going to try to play uptempo on both ends,” Montreal said, saying all 12 players have improved since last season. “I feel we are stronger at every position.”

The schedule worked out quite oddly for the Tigers this season. All seven of their December games will be played on the road. They did have one home game in December originally, this Saturday’s game against Eau Claire North. But the teams were given the opportunity at the new Don Page Arena at UW-River Falls and they accepted the offer.

There is a tradeoff for that early road schedule. The Tigers will play eight of their final 11 regular season games on their home floor.