It was only the first week of practice, and Broadneck senior Danielle Gross was already late. She had a good excuse, though, as she was caught up in a meeting for the National Honor Society.

Gross, who has been accepted to the Naval Academy and will play there next year, is also one of the smarter players on the basketball court. Her ability to read defenses and drive through them will help the Bruins in their first year under Coach Diane Casey, but Gross will have to work to make the transition from a guard to a post player.

"It's a whole new team," said Gross, who last played forward as a freshman. "It's really tough because everything is changing and I have to get used to everything all over again just when I was getting comfortable."

Casey, the former head coach at Prince George's Community College and assistant at North County for the last two years, wants to elevate the program to a state championship level in three years, but she told the girls she wouldn't mind arriving early.

"This has always been a strong athletic area," said Casey, whose career record is 72-72 as a head coach. "The last time this program won a state championship was 1990. As far as I'm concerned, that was too long ago, especially through the last three or four years, where lacrosse, field hockey, volleyball and cross-country have been in the spotlight year in and year out. I'm coming in with that desire; I want to become a part of that tradition, and they're quite capable of doing it."

The Bruins are counting on junior small forward Karley Hall, senior guard Chrissy Davis and junior forward Megan Jones to round out the starting five. Gross and senior guard Kara Zoolakis are two of six seniors on this year's roster of 26. Gross, an all-county selection last year, led the team with an average of 11.5 points and 8.1 rebounds, and Zoolakis is expected to contribute more offensively this year.

"Everything is more structured," said Zoolakis, also a golfer and softball player. "We're a faster-paced team and we'll be more aggressive this year, so we'll be ready for the faster teams like Arundel. Everyone is starting off new and coming in with a clean slate."

Boys Coach Ken Kazmarek isn't naive about the fact the Bruins aren't "on the level of Annapolis and Southern," but this year they will be more competitive with the county's best. Broadneck lacks a go-to player, but any of the top seven players can score, giving Kazmarek an opportunity to spread the offense.

There is some pressure, though, on 5-foot-10 junior point guard Andrew Holland to lead the team, as he is the only returning player with legitimate experience as a starter. He will be supported by senior guard Howard Gibson, 6-4 junior forward Alex Denny and 5-5 junior forward Mike Williams.

"For the first time in several years, I feel we're back on track with having people who know what it means to put time into the program," Kazmarek said. "Last year we had three kids on the floor who never [before] played a minute of basketball in our program. With that inconsistency, it was amazing we were in most of the games we were."

Junior guards Jordan Sokel (6-2), Jim Davidson (6-1) and Brian Murray (6-1) are also expected to help the program rebound from last year's 4-12 season, which included a 60-59 buzzer-beater win against Meade.

"We were on the border of turning things around last year," Kazmarek said. "We were in good games, but we just couldn't get over the hump. Whether we can not beat ourselves is yet to be seen, but I think we'll be in games this year. We'll be somebody you have to compete against."

Boys' Schedule

Dec. 13 at Glen Burnie, 7:15

Dec. 19 vs. Arundel, 7:15

Jan. 3 at Southern, TBA

Jan. 7 vs. Glen Burnie, TBA

Jan. 10 at North County, 7:15

Jan. 14 vs. Old Mill, 7:15

Jan. 17 at Annapolis, 7:15

Jan. 21 vs. Arundel, 7:15

Jan. 24 at Severna Park, 7:15

Jan. 29 vs. South River, 7:15

Jan. 31 at Meade, 7:15

Feb. 4 vs. Chesapeake, 7:15

Feb. 7 at South River, 7:15

Feb. 11 vs. Annapolis, 7:15

Feb. 14 vs. Severna Park, 7:15

Feb. 18 vs. Southern

Feb. 21 at Arundel, 7:15

Girls' Schedule

Dec. 17 vs. North County, 5:15

Dec. 19 vs. Arundel, 5:15

Jan. 3 at Southern, 5:15

Jan. 7 vs. Glen Burnie, 5:15

Jan. 10 at North County, 5:15

Jan. 14 vs. Old Mill, 5:15

Jan. 17 at Annapolis, 5:15

Jan. 21 vs. Arundel, 5:15

Jan. 24 at Severna Park, 5:15

Jan. 29 vs. South River, 5:15

Jan. 31 at Meade, 5:15

Feb. 4 vs. Chesapeake, 5:15

Feb. 7 at South River, 5:15

Feb. 11 vs. Annapolis, 5:15

Feb. 14 vs. Severna Park, 5:15

Feb. 18 vs. Southern, 5:15

Feb. 21 at Arundel, 5:15

Kara Zoolakis, left, is one of six seniors for Broadneck girls. Andrew Holland, right, is the only boys' returning player with legitimate experience as a starter.