"Every day we have conversations about the role he'll play," Pennypacker said. "I like that."
Shumway also said the team will focus more on outside shooting this year, but that's not to say they don't have the front court to bump around down low. T.J. Filer and Stonecalf will provide the muscle to the starting lineup, although it'll be a few weeks before they can team up. Stonecalf is nursing an ankle injury he suffered at the end of football season. He expects to be back next week, but will probably have to wait another seven days at least before suiting up.
"T.J. is the big guy down low," Pennypacker said. "He does a lot of the things you don't notice as much like playing solid defense and getting important rebounds."
Taray Thomas is another player expected to have a significant impact, Pennypacker says, but he's also confident in most of the players taking part in preseason. Whereas last year there was a lot of talent in two players, Stonecalf said, this year there are plenty of contributors.
"I think we have more talent," Stonecalf said. "Joey and E.J., they were kind of our big two, and now it's more spread out. We're mostly young, so we've got a lot to learn. Other than that, once we're learning, teach them how to use their talent, we should shock people again."
It's a long season, and maintaining such confidence will be important to Chickasha getting all they can out of this group of players. The early signs suggest that shouldn't be a problem.
"We always talk about being elite," Pennypacker said. "Everyone's buying into what we have and showing up ready to work. Of course I think we can make it [to state], but more importantly, the kids believe it."