VESTAL (WBNG) -- The Binghamton men's basketball season will begin Saturday as the Bearcats host Marist to open the non-conference schedule.
Head coach Tommy Dempsey said the team is excited to play at a competitive level for the first time since March.
"Of course I don't feel like we're completely ready but we'll learn through our mistakes. The kids need to play," said Dempsey.
The team returns just two starters from the 2019-2020 season, and is looking to fill the scoring void left by point guard Sam Sessoms, following his transfer from Binghamton.
The sophomore heavy team brings back America East rookie of the year George Tinsley, who led the conference in freshman scoring last season.
"This year's going to be much different, obviously because now you're playing games back to back on weekends and now teams are going to be ready for what kind of style of play I am," said Tinsley. "So I'm going to change it up and improve any way I can, and also take on a leadership role this year."
Tinsley will be bolstered by the return of Thomas Bruce, who re-joins the Bearcats after a two-year injury absence. Bruce said his expectations for himself are even higher this season.
"Last time I played I made the all-defensive team. I want to be defensive player of the year and also be on the all-conference team, and a championship of course," he said.
Dempsey said Bruce and Tinsley complement each other on the court.
"George makes Thomas better and Thomas makes George better," said Dempsey. "That's a match up on that front line, we feel like we can have an advantage many nights."
With a mix of old and new players, Dempsey said one of the team's strengths will be its depth.
He said they've added pieces with the ability to score a lot of points, including transfer and Cooperstown native Tyler Bertram.
"I think with all of the new guys we have, I think we could really surprise some people this year," said Betram.
In addition to the new faces, Dempsey said he's excited to see the development of last year's freshman.
"Tinsley and (Brenton) Mills, Hakon (Hjalmarsson) and (Dan) Petcash and those guys, I mean they played a lot of minutes as freshman," said Dempsey. "The old saying 'the best thing about freshman is they become sophomores,' well now they're sophomores and you hope they can take the next step."
With limited practice this preseason, Dempsey said he expects physical mistakes early on, but he wants his players to focus on their attitude and effort.
"Patience is good, too much patience is bad. So you have to find that line where you're going to have to be a little bit patience early in the year," said Dempsey.
The men's season opener against Marist tips off from the Events Center Saturday at 2 p.m.