HAVERHILL — If you like fast-break, pressure basketball, you’ll love the 2013-14 Northern Essex Community College men’s basketball team.
The Knights are quick, they’re fast and they can score.
However, they also lack size and, with only one returnee from last year’s 13-13 squad, they’re inexperienced.
“This is the youngest and smallest team I’ve ever had,” said 13-year head coach Darren Stratton. “If we stay healthy and everyone stays eligible, this could be a special team, but it’s going to take some time.
“We’re so young, we’re going to make mistakes. But we’re going to grow together and we’ll be better the second semester than the first semester.”
The only returnee is Georgetown’s Neph Carmona, a 6-foot-2 sophomore who will probably start at forward despite his limited size. Stratton hopes he can be a stabilizing presence.
Beyond Carmona, the entire roster is comprised of freshmen, several of whom are extremely talented but few of whom have size.
The tallest and one of the most talented is 6-foot-5 Javonte Forbes, who has moved to the area from Miami, along with 5-8 guard Peterson Morency. They were teammates at Miramar High.
The next tallest if 6-4 Benjamin Morency, who played inside at Peabody last year but will be more of a wing man for the Knights as will be 6-1 Derek Andreoli, a 6-1 slasher who was second-team all-conference three years ago as a senior at East Providence (R.I.) High.
Another likely wing is 6-2 Whittier Tech grad Ryan Grant from Haverhill. The three-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star, who scored 1,432 career points, has looked good in practice and may see some time as a backup point guard.
Promising shooting guards are 6-foot Colin Collins, who averaged 7.8 points a game last year at Charlestown, and 6-2 Kyle Sangster, who was the leading scorer for Malden Catholic last year and twice was named first-team all-Catholic Conference.
Other players from the area who could be factors are former Whittier player Marck Galva, who transferred from Anna Marie College, former Haverhill player Parker Rogers and 6-3 forward Chris Corey of Londonderry.
Galva, however, is still waiting for an NCAA waiver before he’s eligible and Rogers is slow recovering from a high ankle sprain.
“We’ll attack with a basically four-guard lineup and hope to wear teams down,” said Stratton. “We have to run. We could be in some trouble in a half-court game.”
The Knights open their season Friday against the home team in the New Hampshire Tech Tournament and will play the University of Maine at Augusta Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to the season because it’s a close-knit group and it has potential to be good,” said Stratton. “But it’ll take time.”
NECC Men’s schedule
Nov. 1 — at New Hampshire Tech, 6 p.m.
Nov. 2 — UMaine-Augusta (at NH Tech), noon
Nov. 5 — at CCRI, 6 p.m.
Nov. 9 — Holyoke, 2 p.m
Nov. 12 — Mass. Bay, 7 p.m.
Nov. 14 — Massasoit, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 — at Gateway, 3 p.m.
Nov. 19 — Bunker Hill, 6 p.m.
Nov. 23 — at Lincoln, 3 p.m.
Nov. 26 — at Bristol, 7 p.m.
Nov. 30 — at UCONN-AP, 1 p.m.
Dec. 5 — at Roxbury, 6 p.m.
Dec. 7 — at Springfield Tech, 3 p.m.
Dec. 10 — Quinsigamond, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11 — UConn-AP, 1 p.m.
Jan. 14 — Roxbury, 6 p.m.
Jan. 16 — Gateway, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21 — at Quinsigamond, 7 p.m.
Jan,. 23 — at Holyoke, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 — Springfield Tech, 3 p.m.
Jan. 28 — at Massasoit, 7 p.m.
Jan. 30 — Dean, 8 p.m.
Feb. 4 — Bristol, 6 p.m.
Feb. 6 — at Bunker Hill, 6 p.m.
Feb. 8 — at Mass. Bay, 3 p.m.
Feb. 11 — Vermont Tech, 6 p.m.
Feb. 15 — Lincoln, 3 p.m.
Feb. 22 — MCCAC semifinal at Holyoke, TBA
Feb. 23 — MCCAC championship at Holyoke, TBA