First-year Germantown boys basketball coach Steve Martin was nobody's fool when he took this job.
Following in the giant footsteps of Steve Showalter and Mark Adams and the three state titles from 2012-14 was never going to be easy.
Couple that with enormous graduation losses, plus a variety of illness and injury issues, Martin thought the Warhawks did well to get to 11-12 this season.
"It was interesting," he said. "Interesting, challenging and enjoyable. The season could be broken down into two parts. The first half, we didn't play up to our potential, partly because of injuries. But then we got healthier. We had what I thought was a good loss to (eventual D2 state runner-up) Cedarburg, and then we went 9-3 over the second half of the season.
"We cam together well, more of what I thought we were capable of."
The Warhawks' close to the season was not exactly what they wanted as they fell to Homestead in a WIAA regional semifinal game. Leading scorer and first-team All-North Shore Conference selection Kyle Clow was unavailable that game due to a disciplinary situation.
But it doesn't take anything away from Martin's assertion. The Warhawks did stumble out of the gate, losing eight of their first nine games (an opening-game loss to Milwaukee Hamilton was later ruled a forfeit to Germantown due to a player eligibility situation).
That good streak started with a fine win over strong nonconference opponent Marquette
They also had had two game losses in that run to North Shore rival Nicolet and eventual state tournament qualifier Brookfield Central. The highlight was an emphatic rout of a a solid Whitefish Bay team on Feb. 7.
All this time, the Warhawks built around a fluid and dynamic offense that averaged over 70 points a game. Martin said it was among the top five or six in school history in terms of efficiency.
Senior forward Clow, who also missed a few games due to illness, was at the heart of the effort as he scored at an impressive 22.9 points-per-game clip, including a 49 percent rate from the field and 64 percent of his free throws (75-118).
Senior guard Bryce Thomas clipped in 14 points per game, also on 49 percent shooting. Senior post Ethan Meyer, who was limited to 16 games because of knee issues, added 11.8 a game while senior guard Randy Johnson (7.1, 25 3-pointers), senior forward Colin Lindwall (6.8, 28 3s) and sophomore post Luke Taylor (6.2) also helped out greatly.
One problem the Warhawks were not quite able to solve as the season went along was defense. They mixed in some 2-3 zone with their traditional man to help shore up the gaps.
"We had some good length, but we just didn't have the quickness," Martin said. "We didn't make any real significant changes but did try some things. We just didn't improve defensively to the level that we needed."
All along, Martin tried to keep to the traditions that have made Germantown a towering success over the last decade.
"My ideas are system ideas," he said. "We continue to believe in the Germantown system which will not change ... we're glad to have a high bar set for us. I think we continued to strive to play the best we were capable of. We didn't hit it all the time, but we kept moving in that direction."
Seniors included Johnson, Zach Behrendt, Thomas, Clow, Lindwall and Meyer.
The Warhawks will have to adjust to big changes next year as they will move into the Greater Metro Conference with Brookfield Central as well as border rivals Menomonee Falls and Sussex Hamilton.
The team will be young but loaded with potential, said Martin. He noted the junior varsity team had only three losses this season, and the freshmen went unbeaten. He said there is a lot of quickness in the freshmen qroup, and in the long run, that should translate into more of Germantown's traditional press and run attack.
"They don't have a lot of height," Martin said, "but they do have a lot of speed. I think we will be able to get back to running 'Show-ball', playing that aggressive man and try to press the heck out of people. The change (in conferences) will also be new for everyone and very exciting for the kids."