The revival of boys basketball at Copley High has started in earnest, and it takes nothing more to prove the point than to remember that 3,000 people filled the gymnasium for the team's opening game at home this season.
Credit the packed gym to the tireless work of coach Mark Dente, a 1989 Copley alumnus who has come back to his alma mater to inject life into what once was a respected program.
And the program did need life.
Five coaches in five seasons sucked most of the energy out of the boys program. The revolving door at coach created instability and indifference, and as much as anything else it led to a 3-17 record (0-14 in the Suburban League) last season.
Dente committed himself to changing that culture, replacing apathy with enthusiasm.
"My expectations were to get it back to where it was when I coached there," said Dente, hired during the summer to take over the boys program at his alma mater. "My last season as an assistant coach there we were 20-0."
Dente is a realist. He knows a new coach, even one who was familiar with the program and its history, couldn't expect to come in and turn it into a 20-0 team overnight.
What Dente could do was infuse energy into the basketball program.
He used his contacts and familiarity with the school to get greater participation from athletes. While not something any coach relishes, Dente had to cut 45 boys until he whittled his roster down to 15 players.
But what remained was a roster that, as Dente put it, will be better than most people expect. His Indians will be tall, well schooled and disciplined.
They also will boast more than a little bit of talent, including the hard-working Jordan Burke on the wing, and 6'6" Roosevelt Dotson and 6'5" senior Ben Veach inside.
"We definitely have the height that Copley hasn't had in the past," Dente said. "I start 6'4", 6'5" and 6'5" -- something that we haven't been able to do for quite a long time at Copley. So I think that's my strength."
Yet in the Suburban League, is that enough? Can the Indians contend against the powerhouses in the league?
Dente isn't promising a championship in his first season home. But he doesn't hesitate to say the Indians will be competitive. He sees them stacking up well against opponents in the league.
"We should be fine," he said. "I actually think we'll be extremely competitive."