After months of growing anticipation within the organization, the Kentucky Mavericks will take one step closer to the start of the season when players, coaches and staff report to Owensboro on Monday for the start of training camp.
With official practices set to start Tuesday, the Mavericks will have a little less than two weeks to get their players ready for the Jan. 9 season and home opener against the Rochester RazorSharks at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
Monday will serve as an introductory day for players and staff to get accustomed to the area, learn how things operate and conduct physicals, but assistant coach Sarah Gayler said then that they'll "jump right into it."
"There's no easing into it," she said. "The guys will come into town in shape — they'll have to be. They'll be in shape, and we'll start with two-a-days right away. We pretty much run two-a-days throughout the season, but the first two weeks are going to be tough on them.
"They'll have to learn the plays, learn the system, but we'll have some veterans there to help the new guys. We'll be working a lot just on blending all of our talent together and working on the chemistry between the guys."
Kentucky expects at least 13 players to report to camp, including the four that were selected to the team based on last month's rookie and free agent tryouts.
"I haven't been here since the very beginning, but it's probably one of the best teams we've had," said Gayler, who joined the Mavericks in 2014 when they were still in Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana. "Coach (Steve) Tucker says this is probably one of the better teams he's coached. This will be exciting."
The Mavericks — the American Basketball Association champions each of the past two years — carry a 92-game winning streak into their Premier Basketball League debut on Jan. 9, and Gayler said they plan to stick to the style that helped get them there.
"We have a system, and our system obviously works great," she said. "We have a strong system we use with our guys. We'll be a fast-paced, fast-moving team and very entertaining. It'll be very up-tempo and very fun. And even though it's really fast, everything we do is for a reason. Everything has a purpose."
As for the response the Mavericks expect from the community, Gayler said she has no doubts after the early support she's seen so far.
"It's awesome," she said. "I love it here, I really do. Everybody here has welcomed us with open arms.
"I really feel like this is our home, honestly. Shreveport was great, and Beaumont (Texas) was great, but this feels like home. We haven't even played a game yet, and people are already calling us and asking us to make appearances out in public and everything."
But now, Gayler added, the real fun can begin.
"It's exciting to get it going, seeing the new guys come in and getting back at it," she said. "We've been off for a while. Watching basketball on TV for the last couple of months, it really gets you ready for our season to start."