It's that time of year for Augusta Christian boys basketball coach Marty Griffin. The time when he's supposed to snap his fingers and work some magic.
"I've got eight football players that just came in," he said Tuesday afternoon. "Some of the other kids aren't here right now because they're out of town."
Griffin has already had to postpone a game that was originally scheduled for last Monday. Had the Lions played that game, they would have done so with eight players taking the court without a single practice.
Such is the life of a basketball coach at a school where football and baseball are considered the "big" sports. Even Griffin will say he's enjoyed the success the football and baseball teams have earned over the past two years. However, it has produced quite a dilemma in his quest to rebuild the basketball program to where it was in its state championship days in the 1990s.
"There are good and bad things about it," he said. "Most guys that play football and baseball know how to win. A lot of these guys like basketball, but it's not their passion."
The Augusta Christian baseball and football programs have combined for three state championships in the past 19 months. They also have the luxury of dedicated athletes who work year-round at their skill.
In fact, Griffin lost one senior, Josh Whitaker, to that very idea. Whitaker recently signed a baseball scholarship with Kennesaw State and decided to skip the upcoming basketball season to concentrate on baseball.
"I don't blame him. That's going to be his meal ticket," Griffin said. "I completely respect that decision."
Still, Griffin's task this year is to find success with a squad returning only two starters. The outlook isn't all doom and gloom, however. Those starters, Tyler Bourdo and Fred Austin, will give the Lions necessary and experienced leadership. Also, Griffin said the region is primed for an underdog to make a move.
"The region is going to be real balanced. Every team lost at least a few of their star players," he said. "We might just be able to fly in under the radar."
The future looks bright as well. Griffin said he's seeing an increase in interest and dedication from his younger basketball players.
"We don't have a lot of gym-rat type kids right now on varsity, but I think we've got some young kids in our program that do that," he said. "I've already told the kids. There's no reason we can't build our program up."
The Lions' first test is next weekend when 13 boys basketball teams come to Martinez for the annual Garden City Classic. Augusta Christian will open its season and the three-day tournament at home at 4 p.m.Thursday against Camden Military.
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