As Derby boys coach Ryan Herrs began talking about his team recently, he started with a similar refrain —"As usual, we don't have real height."
That's certainly been the case in recent seasons, and it holds true again with several players at 6-foot-3, but most hovering around 6-foot.
There's an upside to that, though. Derby is athletic.
The most athletic are juniors Cameron Cornelius (6-1) and Jabril Richardson (6-1) and senior Maquiez Tucker (5-10). Cornelius was a starter as a sophomore, while Richardson and Tucker were role players.
"Cameron, he plays a lot bigger than his size," Herrs said. "He has really long arms, he jumps really well and he covers ground like a 6-3, 6-4 kid.... (Richardson) is just as athletic as Cameron."
Then there's Tucker, who Herrs believes could be the state's best defensive player.
"He has incredible feet, incredible hips, he's a great leaper," Herrs said. "At 5-10, he's tough to get around."
While senior Zack Steadman (6-1) isn't as purely athletic, he's dangerous.
"He has a really good knack for getting the basketball to the rim," Herrs said. "He's sneaky, herky-jerky, a left-hander. You watch him a couple times, 'Wow, this kid can play.' "
Trayce Cornejo (6-3) will also be key. He's a strong passer who can hit the jumper, so he'll play more at the small forward.
As for who will post up, Herrs isn't sure. But he plans on the Panthers pressuring full-court and scoring in transition.
And he wants to make sure that Derby doesn't stumble as it did last season. The Panthers started the season 10-2, then lost five of their next nine.
"We know that we can't take things for granted," Herrs said. "I've talked to my players: 'When you get things rolling, don't be selfish, don't take it for granted, because it can be gone just like that.' "