Matt Hunter begins his second season as the York College men’s basketball head coach on Saturday.
Matt Hunter begins his second season as the York College men's basketball head coach on Saturday. (BILL KALINA -- bkalina@yorkdispatch.com.)

Much like last season, Matt Hunter finds himself doing it all over again.

Twelve months ago, Hunter was the new men's basketball coach at York College, with the task of teaching more than a dozen players a brand new system.

Just five players return to the Spartans this season. The remaining 11 on the roster are freshmen. Hunter is trying to get the rookies to learn his up-tempo system.

"It's somewhat the same (as last season)," Hunter said following practice Monday night. "But the guys that came in knew what they were getting into. They were familiar with our program."

York's 2013-14 season starts Saturday when the Spartans play host to Gallaudet at 6 p.m. in the two-day Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Grumbacher Center.

Growing pains: Like the school's new mascot, which has left students scratching their heads while trying to figure out exactly what 'Screamer' is, it's hard to know what to make of this year's men's basketball squad.

York, which features just three seniors and two sophomores, will likely struggle as its underclassmen adjust to the college game. Capital Athletic Conference coaches agree. The Spartans were picked to finish tied for seventh in the 10-team league.

There should be a sense of optimism, though. The expected mishaps are necessary building blocks toward a potentially bright future.

The same couldn't be said for last year's team, which posted a 7-19 record, the program's worst mark since 1997-98 (6-19). Sure, Hunter stressed improving each day to that group. But the majority of those players wouldn't be back the next year.

"Last year we relied heavily on seven or eight guys and we played a little bit slower," Hunter said. "We're really focusing (this year) on getting up and down the floor at a faster pace. We'll play more guys. It'll be a little bit more up tempo and exciting and flying around a little bit."

Leading the charge this season are seniors Mike Mathews, Matt McNeely and B.J. Enck. Mathews, a 6-foot, 4-inch guard from Delaware, is York's lone returning starter. He averaged eight points in 24 games (21 starts). McNeely and Enck each played in 26 games last year.

Talented frosh: The freshmen class is made up of six players who averaged double figures in scoring at the high school level a year ago. Two others -- Trinity's Brad Wesner and Central Dauphin's Ryan Beaver -- averaged nearly 10 points a game.

Most notable among the talented class of newbies is 6-foot-3 guard Chad Barcikowski, last year's Carroll County (Md.) Times' Player of the Year, who averaged 16.2 points, five rebounds, 3.1 assists and three steals.

"I want to leave here with at least two banners," Barcikowski said. "One a CAC banner and of course a national banner. Personally, I think I see myself achieving a lot of things here. Hopefully that's the way it turns out."

First, Barcikowski and his teammates will have to prove they can compete on the college hardwood, something York's second-year coach is eager to find out. Hunter, 30, said he'll likely have a different starting five throughout the season.

"In the scrimmages we've been rotating a lot of guys. I can see that being the case going forward," Hunter said. "Every night it's gonna be somebody different that steps up. It's fun to play on that type of team. Everybody has got a chance."

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.