By Justin Myers
For On Common Ground News
The Georgia Kangaroos played its last game on March 8 with a win (Final Score 150-118). Shortly after the win, the City of Stonecrest closed the Browns Mill Recreation Center, home of the Kangaroos, following social distancing restrictions ordered by Gov. Brian Kemp due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brian Caswell, head Coach of the Georgia Kangaroos, said the state’s restrictions forced the premature ending of the season for the city of Stonecrest’s brand new team.
“Keep in mind the National CDC (Centers for Disease Control) published no groups larger than 10 people (no gatherings), and that pretty much put a fork in even having practices,” Caswell said.
After the team’s last game, Caswell said that the league had an owner’s conference call in early March to discuss what to do. At the time, the goal was to push the start of the league from April 1 to May 18. Caswell decided, however, not to play after the late start due to overlaps in the Georgia Kangaroos’ schedules coming from the delay.
The reopening of Georgia’s economy hasn’t helped the Kangaroos. The team should have played over five games by now. They were hit hard.
“Times are really hard right now for teams and players dealing with mental and financial issues by not being able to have sports,” Caswell said.
Georgia Kangaroos were to provide the opportunity for players to possibly get the chance to play in the NBA G-League or go overseas.
“Deep inside, they must be heartbroken, sad, and frustrated,” Caswell said.
Brandon Martin, a star player of the Kangaroos, says as far as the season-ending so soon and abruptly: “I hated it. We had just won five games in a row right before joining the Maximum Basketball League. We had hopes of taking that momentum into the league and coming out with a championship. Our team was starting to gel, and you saw the chemistry forming. I was really looking forward to what was to come.”
In one of the last Kangaroo games, most of the team had double digits. Three of the Kangaroos had over 30 points, including Martin.
Martin has not used this time to sit back.
“I personally have been doing agility and ball handling drills, running and lifting weights Monday through Friday,” Martin said. “I’ll use the weekends as recovery days (ice, heat, stretch, meditation). I’ve also taken this time to really focus on my diet, making sure I come out of this a better all-around person/athlete.”
Coach Caswell said the Georgia Kangaroos’ goal is to fight COVID 19 and keep the Kangaroos going.
“We will not go away. But I would be lying if I said we have a plan that I am 100 percent confident about,” Caswell said. “We lost a lot of momentum, we lost all our revenues, and the things that will help us when we get back will be the hardest to achieve in the days going forward. Those things are sponsors and fans. We greatly rely on sponsors, and so many businesses big and small have been hurt, they will find it hard to pay to advertise with our team.”
Caswell said the team also lost the momentum it built up with fans.
“I am not sure how quickly people will trust being in gyms close to other in a crowd,” said Caswell. “Our business is to build fans and entertain those who love basketball and want to support their local players. Playing basketball isn’t our business, providing an experience for our fans and a platform to help drive sales to our sponsors is what we do. I want to give the fans a sense of being a part of the team. We want them to use words like, “We won” and “my team. We are winners, so we will figure out a way to win this war as well.”