When a team is picked to finish first in their region, the coach usually doesn't give a hard charging, glowing report on his team. Such is the case of Olympus' Matt Barnes, who gave a pretty matter-of-fact assessment of his team to preview the coming season. Nonetheless, it appears the Titans are talented.

And perhaps even more so on the girls side. The girls have a lot of experience, even though the Lady Titans are not particularly senior dominated.

BOYS: Last year was a good year for the Titans. Barnes fielded a veteran team that notched 16 wins behind scoring leaders John Varner and Adam Eagan, who both averaged 13-plus points per game. They're gone now. Several other seniors went with them. This year, Barnes is looking to break in a new batch of players who don't really have much experience even though three seniors head up the team.

"This is the youngest team I have ever had," said Barnes.

Elliot Bullock is the marquee returning player. At 6-9, he will anchor the middle, but his firepower represented less than eight points per game last year and looks about the same so far in early games this year. Spencer Hille looks to take over the scoring load, even though last year as a sophomore he totaled only 21 points for the entire season. In two games this year, he is scoring at a 16 ppg clip.

Senior James Wagstaff is the shooting guard who says, "My favorite thing to do is shoot the three." Barnes is hoping he can hit the three also. As Jerry Sloan recently remarked, "I'm looking for a 'making' guard, not just a shooting guard."

Preston Fairbourn will run the team at the point guard position. He is a senior who has put up 26 points in the first two games of the season. Connor Brady is just a sophomore who will be counted on to contribute on the scoreboard.

Barnes said he likes both the chemistry and the camaraderie of his team. And if the count is positive on those two fronts, a team can be successful regardless of age.

GIRLS: The Olympus girls will be scrappy this year, according to coach Kael Ashton. He usually plays 10 players that get after it for a full 32 minutes, applying tremendous defensive pressure on their opponents.

"A lot of our points come off the press," said Ashton.

His team is well conditioned and he is not afraid to go deep into his bench. And besides defense, Ashton says his team strength will be a strong post presence manned by 6-2 Jenna Tiller and 6-0 Caitland Besler.

"Tall helps a lot," said Ashton, referring to both his two inside players and his withering pressure defense with taller-than-average guards.

"She clears the glass," said Ashton speaking of Tiller, a junior. "Jenna is our best rebounder."

Besler averaged 11 points and nine rebounds a game last year and along with point guard Meg Williams is the vocal leader of the team. Wendy Young rounds out the trio as the only seniors on the team and as such all three have been named as captains.

Ashton said Williams "understands the game." Williams started last year at the shooting guard position and will move over to the point to replace the now departed Anna Mahas, last year's leader.

Heather Giffin, one of those tall guards at 5-11, is still a junior but returns as a veteran, having made all-state honorable mention last year with Besler.

A number of sophomores are expected to contribute this year if the Titans are to win region.

"We will need the younger players to step up," said Ashton, "and the girls have set their sights to do that."

Besler wants to improve on last year's numbers and work on her game to become a complete player.

"She is pretty good at scoring on the low block," Ashton said.

But she is interested in more.

"I can pass the ball," she said. "I can find somebody on the court and get them the ball."

Another phase of her game she is working on is beyond the arc.

"Over the summer I worked hard on hitting the 3-point shot," she said. "I am getting comfortable with it."

Will Ashton let such a strong inside player go out and take a 3-pointer?

"She can take the three if she can hit it," he said.

He explained that her taking the three was not a common part of their offense but there would be occasions when it would be available.

"We are solid all around," Ashton said. "It will just be a matter of getting everyone going on the same page."

Olympus Titans boys basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 6

Last season: 16-6, lost in first round playoffs

Predicted 2006-2007 region 6 finish: First

Head coach: Matt Barnes

Key Returning players: Elliot Bullock, 6-foot-9, center, Sr.; Preston Fairbourn, point guard, Sr.; James Wagstaff, guard, Sr.; Spencer Hille, Forward, Sr.; Connor Brady, So.

Boys schedule

Nov. 28 — Sky View 71, Olympus 67

Nov. 30 — Olympus 73, Layton 58

Dec. 7 — Northridge 59, Olympus 54

Dec. 18 — Box Elder at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Dec. 20 — Olympus at Skyline, 7 p.m.

Dec. 28 — Olympus at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.

Jan. 2 — Olympus at Murray, 7 p.m.

Jan. 4 — Highland at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 8 — Olympus at Granger, 7 p.m.

Jan. 11 — Cottonwood at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 — Olympus at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 — East at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 22 — Olympus at Cyprus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 — Murray at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 — Olympus at Highland, 7 p.m.

Feb. 5 — Granger at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Olympus at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.

Feb. 12 — West at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Feb. 15 — Olympus at East, 7 p.m.

Feb. 19 — Cyprus at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Olympus Titans girls basketball

Class: 4A

League: Region 6

Last season: 11-11, lost first round playoffs.

Predicted 2006-2007 finish: First

Head coach: Kael Ashton

Key returning players: Meg Williams, point guard, Sr.; Caitland Besler, 6-0, center/forward, Sr.; Jenna Tiller, 6-2, center, Jr.; Heather Giffin, 5-11, guard/forward, Jr.; Wendy Young, Sr.

Girls schedule

Nov. 20 — Olympus 55, Bountiful 37

Nov. 27 — Riverton 59, Olympus 32

Nov. 30 — Olympus 48, Bonneville 45

Dec. 4 — Olympus 50, Copper Hills 31

Dec. 11 — Olympus at Orem, 7 p.m.

Dec. 14 — Olympus at Provo, 7 p.m.

Dec. 19 — Pine View at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 2 — Olympus at Murray, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 4 — Highland at Olympus, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 8 — Granger at Olympus, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 11 — Cottonwood at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 — Olympus at West, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18 — East at Olympus, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 22 — Olympus at Cyprus, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 25 — Murray at Olympus, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 29 — Cyprus at Olympus, 5:15 p.m.

Feb. 1 — Olympus at Highland, 5:15 p.m.

Feb. 5 — Olympus at Granger, 5:15 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Olympus at Cottonwood, 7 p.m.

Feb. 12 — West at Olympus, 7 p.m.

Feb. 14 — Olympus at East, 5:15 p.m.

E-mail: wjewkes@desnews.com