There's been plenty to like about Dubbo basketball in recent years.
The juniors have continued to punch above their weight, American imports have helped boost the sport's popularity, and a newly-formed women's side offers more people the chance to show their wares on the court.
The only thing which has been missing is a Dubbo Rams side pushing for finals in the Waratah League.
The Rams have shown development in recent seasons but have still been involved for more fights for the wooden spoon then pushing for a spot in the post-season.
But with a pair of new recruits, an increase in size, and some key faces returning to the fold, the hope is 2018 can be the year the Rams rise up.
The Rams director for Waratah League, Bart Sykes, has been keen to promote that message during pre-season.
Sykes is overseeing the Rams men and women this season, with Damien Reid taking over the coaching role for the side which starts its campaign at home to Orange on Saturday evening.
"The imports have helped the vibe and they're definitely good for us but the crowd follows the win and loss column pretty closely," Sykes said.
It's not really a big man's league and at 211cm he's a genuine shot blocker so he'll make a difference.Bart Skyes
"I've been drumming into 'Damo' and the lads that we need to put our best foot forward, especially early on if we want that crowd there supporting us late in the season.
"If you're one (win) and fifteen (losses) even the biggest fan will find it hard to come out then."
One thing hurting the Rams' chances this season is the lack of Will Howell, who will be out indefinitely for health reasons, but that loss if offset by the addition of American Charles Baines, towering Canadian Rob Dewar, and the return of the experienced Daniel Medway.
Dewar could provide a real X-factor this season after the 211cm former Canadian under 19 representative moved to Dubbo for employment earlier in the year.
The two newcomers have sparked plenty of excitement in the weeks leading up to Saturday's opener at the Woolshed, with Sykes being one of the many who's been impressed.
"They've brought some enthusiasm, that's for sure," he said, before focusing on Dewar.
"From what I've seen and what I've seen from Rob, he'd have to be one of the best, if not the best, big man in the league.
"It's not really a big man's league and at 211cm he's a genuine shot blocker so he'll make a difference.
"I watched him play in the local competition final during the week and he frees up shots as much as making his own inside. When two or three team up on him he's got the vision to find guys on the perimeter."
Very little is known about Saturday's opponent as the Orange Eagles are making their Waratah League debut.
Sykes is urging his side not to take them lightly, especially given the Eagles are led by former Australian youth representative and NBL player Mitch Selwood.
Saturday's match starts at 5pm at the Woolshed at Dubbo Sportsworld.
Kids get in for free, with the curtain-raiser between the under 12 boys and girls starting at 3pm.
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