"People may say that,'' Herbert said, "but I believe the opposite. You've got crafty, veteran coaches like [Rick] Greene at GW and [Carl] Clark at Capital. They'll make sure they're not too down. Those guys are as sharp as tacks.
"I listen to all that crap they're saying - 'Capital's down, GW's only got [Luke] Eddy.' But those guys have been through it, they've been through the wars. They know how to win ballgames.''
SC opened its season Saturday with a long road trip to improving Princeton and came away with a 59-57 victory after holding an 11-point lead with about 31/2 minutes left.
"Princeton's pretty good,'' Herbert said. "They're going to win a lot of ballgames. It was a tough road opener - they were laying in wait. They were ready. Coach [Ernie] Gilliard's done a super job with them.
"I told our kids we were lucky to get out of there with a win. I knew that for two weeks, and I was telling them they'd better be ready. We met their intensity and for other than that two-minute stretch at the end, we did pretty well with it.
"We are deep - we went 11 guys into the bench in critical minutes, but we haven't meshed together yet like we need to. We were [opening] really late - 28 practices before we finally played, so it was a real test for us.''
Expectations are fairly high for SC, which returns seven of its top nine players from a team that won 21 games last year, but Herbert prefers to temper that enthusiasm for the time being.
"At this point, these guys have potential and I think we could be a pretty good team,'' Herbert said, "but we're average right now. We're not special right now. Mediocre, average. But we have a chance to improve and get better. A lot of improvement to do.
"We'd better [improve]. We've got a tough schedule - Kentucky Christian, which has some transfers from Huntington Prep who weren't able to play there, Madison Central, Ky., Woodrow, Capital and Wheeling Park's tough.
"The best is ahead of our guys. Who wants to start at the top? Because you've got nowhere to go.''
Herbert, who is sitting at 199 career coaching victories, could reach 200 Wednesday night against GW at the Civic Center.
Dot's the way
Despite an undersized lineup and the loss of its top two scorers from last season, Poca has won three of its first four games and opened a few eyes around the Kanawha Valley.
If the Dots are to navigate a difficult Cardinal Conference schedule, they'll need to bring the same intensity every night that they showed in Friday's win against Charleston Catholic and in their opening win against Class AAA Nitro.
"We've got eight kids who can play,'' said Allen Osborne, in his 35th year of coaching at Poca, "and they play hard. We're not big in body, but we've got big hearts and they want to win. They work hard every day.
"I'm really proud of the things we've done so far, but we've got a long way to go. Our league's tough and we're going to be outsized every game we play. We've just got to play and play through that.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.