It’s been a little tough for the foundation of a new-look Denison boys basketball program to get started since all of the pieces are yet to be in place.

It’s been a little tough for the foundation of a new-look Denison boys basketball program to get started since all of the pieces are yet to be in place.


There is still something of a silver lining even though key contributors in the gym are missing because they remain on the football field.


"I’m looking forward to the style we’re going to play when we get those football guys back because right now it’s tough to see with just seven guys suited up," first-year Yellow Jacket head coach Chet Byerly said.


Denison opens the season at Sanger at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday night after the Jackets’ home game against Burkburnett tonight was canceled since a quarter of the roster is still in flux.


"I have no set lineup in mind. You expect the returning varsity guys to play big minutes," Byerly said. "With our pace, there’s going to be pretty frequent substitutions."


The Jackets were 5-26 overall and finished last in the District 13-4A standings this past season. Denison went 10-23 and was fifth in 13-4A, two games out of a playoff spot, in 2011-12 that snapped a five-year streak of playoff appearances.


Missing from last year’s roster until the playoffs are over include seniors Jaleel Dade, Khalil Brown and sophomore McShane Wyatt. Other potential players coming from the gridiron could include juniors Jacob Hunt and Devon Blanton and sophomore Brendan Luper.


"Even getting here late in the spring, I’ve seen them at least before so when they come over from football I have something of a clue," Byerly said. "You might not get them until a week or so before district."


The Jackets lost four starters to graduation — Daniel Batey, Clifton Hines, Josh Henry and Keondrick Golston — and with a majority of players still in football, there are plenty of minutes available to impress the new coaching staff.


The current players in the gym include a large senior class of Antonio Carr, Carlton Hines, Trace Johnson, Johnathon McInnis and Delwin Washington.


Jackson McBride, the lone junior, is joined by sophomores Raylen Johnson and Caleb Ross.


"I like what I’ve seen in our scrimmages," Byerly said. "We’re going to have to count on our athleticism. One thing we’ve got to improve on the fast break is transition from that havoc pace. Our shot selection hasn’t been that great."


Raylen Johnson and Hines have been handling point guard duties for a lineup filled with wing players.


"The most pleasant surprise has been Trace Johnson," Byerly said. "He’s showing good effort and leadership. On defense he’s our best help defender."


Parker and Washington are the only certain big bodies on the roster, which could create some match-up problems.


"We don’t have a true post," Byerly said. "We’re going to have to create havoc with our tempo. If we have to play a half-court game it might be a struggle for us."


Byerly replaces Joe Barnett, who stepped down after going 15-49 in two seasons and is now an assistant at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.


In his past two seasons at Borger, a Class 3A program in the panhandle, Byerly was 9-35. He was 7-15 in his first year and 2-20 in 2012-13 when his best player missed all but four games with a torn ACL and six sophomores and a freshman were in his rotation.


He spent a season as the head coach at El Campo and Hillsboro after a three-year stint at Snyder, where he shared the district title in 2007 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2008. He also been a head coach at Azle and Breckenridge.


In addition to Sanger, the Jackets will face Melissa, Krum, Frisco Liberty and Prosper as well as compete in the Sherman Holiday Invitational and Colbert Tournament. Denison will open district play on December 17. The 13-4A schools from last season — Sherman, Wylie, Wylie East, Lovejoy, Royse City, Greenville and McKinney North — carry over to this schedule.