By Chad Robert Snyder

Pilot staff writer

After missing a state title by only three points last year versus Marist, The Brookings-Harbor boys varsity basketball team is trying to keep expectations of this season in perspective.

andquot;Our objective is to go out and become better people and to have a positive experience,andquot; said Head Coach Bryan Wood.

That doesn't mean there isn't a target at the end of the season, however.

andquot;Our goal is always to play in the state championship game, and this year isn't any different,andquot; Wood said.

The Bruins are returning three starters from last year's team, each one with two years playoff experience and an all-league award under their belt. One of them, Chase Bansemer, was also the 4A Player of the Year and the Far West's Most Valuable Player.

Wood is also expecting two seniors - Chris Hodge and Travis Bay - to step in and make a contribution.

andquot;Both of them had a really good summer playing,andquot; Wood said, referring to off-season training. andquot;They're both solid, straight-up defenders.andquot;

A constant theme for the Bruins this season will be the way they practice.

As Wood said, the coaches will be trying to create a game-like situation.

andquot;We like to create an intense environment,andquot; he said. andquot;We're on the clock the whole time, two, two and a half hours, buzzer to buzzer.andquot;

The idea, as Wood said, is to prepare the team for anything that might come along.

andquot;We try to create a situation that'll be more difficult than any game,andquot; he said.

For proof the philosophy works, one has to look no further than last year's 23-3 record.

Although circumstances and players stack up nicely for the 2008-2009 Bruins, Wood said the outcome of the season will be measured as much by his players' personal development as it is by results.

Of the state finals he said, andquot;Success will not be determined by making it or not. It's just one piece of a much larger puzzle.andquot;

When posed the question of whether outside expectations of the team will create a pressure-filled environment this year, Wood seemed unaffected.

andquot;(This year) is not any different for us,andquot; he said. andquot;We simply come in and expect to outwork every other team.andquot;

Wood said he expects his team will have fun and remain grounded at the same time.

andquot;They believe in our philosophy and the system,andquot; he said. andquot;They understand we're not just defined by winning championships.andquot;

Additionally, Wood believes the game of basketball has a lot more to offer than just wins and losses.

andquot;It's a tool to prepare for life,andquot; he said.