Seven upperclassmen and returning letter winners will lead the Cougar boys' basketball team out on the hardwood floor this year.

Senior guards Noah Manning, Hunter Johnson and Justin Ward will reprise their roles.

Manning (6-0") averaged 9.5 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists last year. Johnson (5-10") posted 12.3 points per contest, along with 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Ward (5-11") averaged 11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

Seniors Collin O'Bieglo and Mac Nelson will play at the post position, along with junior Donnie Lind.

O'Bieglo (6-0") averaged 4.6 points per game, grabbed 3.1 rebounds per contest and had 1.1 assists per outing. Nelson (6-0") averaged 3.2 points and 4.0 rebounds. Lind (6-0") also saw plenty of varsity action, averaging 3.9 points, 2.4 rebounds.

Junior guard Keyser Wenthold (5-10") returns as well. He had 2.8 points per game, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season.

Other leading candidates for the varsity rotation include juniors Dustin Kerns (5-11") and Wes Richert (5-10") at wing, and classmate Jon Selness (6-0") at the post position.

Sophomore guard Mitch Kuhn (5-10") is also ready for some varsity action, as is freshman guard Wayne Ross (5-10").

The Cougars posted a record of 6-12 in conference games last year, 7-20 overall.

Coach Doug Wyffels is now in his 10th season at the helm. He also served 10 years as an assistant prior to taking the head coaching position. He's joined by assistants Karl Urbaniak (20 years) and Doug Ward (3 years).

Wyffels cited depth and experience as team strengths for the upcoming season. With only one senior on the 2012-13 team, "these guys played a lot of minutes last year," he noted.

The biggest challenge for the Cougars is an overall lack of height. "We are going to be undersized versus most teams," Wyffels stated. "With the experience we gained last year, we hope to keep improving throughout the season as we mix in some younger players."

M-C hopes to be competitive in the SEC, where Spring Grove and Lanesboro will be pre-season favorites, Wyffels added.