Those stainless-steel water dispensers positioned just outside Plymouth High School's gymnasium are drinking fountains, but judging by the school's girls basketball team, you'd think they were fountains of youth.
First-year head coach Bob deBear's roster includes twice as many freshmen (four) as seniors, giving the Wildcats hope for the future as well as the present.
"I love this team's upbeat attitude," said deBear, a Plymouth High School science teacher whose basketball-coaching resume stretches back 30 years. "They all want to do well and they're all good players. There's not one girl on this roster who I'd be afraid to put in during a tight game."
Included in deBear's coaching history are stints with the Canton High School boys freshmen and junior-varsity teams; and most recently as an assistant with Salem's JV boys' squad.
He has also coached a number of girls and boys AAU teams in addition to the girls' teams at Central Middle School.
"I've always wanted to be a high school varsity basketball coach," deBear said. "It's going to be fun and challenging at the same time. I'm looking forward to the season."
You won't see too many of deBear's teams playing a soft zone defense.
"Defensively, I want to be attacking and aggressive," deBear said. "I don't like to lay back and wait for the other team to react.
"Offensively, I want to be a good pass-and-catch, patient team. I like my teams to get up and down the court quickly and look for some early, but then be smart if nothing is there."
deBear likes both of his seniors: post players Alex Roberts and Taylor Birman.
"I've coached Alex since she was a little girl and watched her grow up to become quite a player," said deBear. "I think she is definitely somebody who is ready to play at the next level; her skills are that strong.
"The first time I had a chance to see Taylor play was at tryouts. She's a good inside-out player who can play inside and at the high post. She's a scholar-athlete, so she's very smart, too."
deBear's inaugural team will be bolstered by a quartet of athletic juniors: Isis Haywood, Kate Watson, Alyssa Burris and Chyna Williams.
"Isis can really play," said deBear of Haywood, whose dad, Spencer, starred in the NBA in the 1970s. "There's no doubt in my mind that she is going to be successful. She's big, strong and fiesty; she's a battler. I'm asking her to play a different way than she's ever been asked to play before, but she's doing a great job.
"Kate is fast and can she ever jump. She has a great mid-range jump shot, too."
"Alyssa can really shoot, and everything I tell her in practice she gets it, just like that," deBear said, snapping his fingers.
"Chyna is very strong and she can finish around the basket."
The future of the Wildcats' program is in good hands thanks to the "Fab Four" freshmen: Kylie Robb, Alysssa Dillon, Jada Woody and Shelby Cheston.
"They're all good players who bring a lot of energy," deBear noted. "Kylie can really shoot. Alyssa is like a water bug out there; she's so fast and quick.
"Jada is going to be a big-time player. She's long and a slasher-type. She can shoot, defend and she has a great basketball IQ.
"Shelby is a skilled 6-foot-3 player. She's long and can shoot."
When asked who are the teams to beat in the KLAA South Division, deBear didn't hesitate.
"Canton," he said. "They're not just the team to beat in the division, they're the team to beat in the state."
Plymouth opens its 2010-11 campaign Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at West Bloomfield. The Wildcats' home opener is set for Friday night at 7 p.m. against Dexter.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or email@example.com.