The communication is better, the ball movement more pronounced and the spacing more natural.
No, the Marshalltown Community College men's basketball team is not a finished product, but the Tigers are certainly rounding into shape.
MCC won its sixth consecutive game with a 66-49 victory over Iowa Lakes Community College on Wednesday night in its final tune-up before the start of ICCAC Division I play this weekend.
The warts are still there for the Tigers (7-13), with turnovers too frequent and a killer instinct that fades in and out.
But roles are beginning to solidify and chemistry developing on a team that returned just three contributors from a year ago.
That was evident as MCC ripped off the game's first 11 points against ILCC (7-10) and kept the Lakers in single digits on the scoreboard until the 7:18 mark of the first half in a game that was hardly ever a contest.
"They are really starting to figure out how to play," said MCC head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson. "Guys are starting to understand their role."
"We're starting to understand our terminology a little better," he added, "we're starting to understand why we run certain things.
"Our overall basketball IQ has gotten a lot better."
Sherman Blanford led the Tigers with 14 points while Nilson Santana had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Rashaad Brown-Peterson had 10 points and Matej Delinac nine.
Marcus Bell had eight points and eight boards.
MCC's integration process of all its new parts hasn't been lightning-quick, but those new pieces are top-notch, with Bell and Keith Coleman already signed to NCAA Division I Letters of Intent and Santana, Blanford and Brown-Peterson possibilities to join them come April's signing period.
"We have a great group of guys that are coming every day and working their butt off," Brynjarsson said. "If we would be able to be able to actually put our practice out there for 40 minutes, it'd be scary."
The Tigers only really needed 15 minutes to dispose of the Lakers.
MCC was up 11-0 before 4 minutes had gone by and used a 14-2 run to lead 35-11 with 5 minutes remaining before intermission.
It was at that point, however, that the Tigers seemed content to coast.
Iowa Lakes outscored MCC 38-31 over the game's final 25 minutes, but never inched closer than 15 points within the Tigers.
Reggie Hearn was the only Laker to reach double figures, finishing with 10 points.
"It's great to win, but we have to win with a purpose, too," Brynjarsson said.
"If you just kind of keep even-keeled about yourself, things take care of themselves quite a bit.
"I'm not real thrilled with how we played in the second half, but at the same time, I thought we did what we needed to do."
The bar is raised significantly this weekend with NJCAA D-I No. 1 Indian Hills visiting the Student Activity Center. The game tips at 7 p.m.
The game will be the first of just four conference games this winter for MCC after Southeastern CC chose to forfeit its season following the dismissal of most of the players off the team earlier this month.