SPRINGFIELD — There’s no real time to rest in Springfield. Every member of the Wildcats’ varsity basketball team was a part of the football team that reached the state championship game.
They played Friday night and then just a couple days later they were in the gym for the first time as they prepare for basketball season.
The quick turnaround comes with several challenges.
“Oh man, it feels like I haven’t been on the basketball court in forever,” Eddie Muhammad, Springfield senior, said. “The transition is way different. The conditioning is different.”
“Use muscles in basketball that you don’t use in football,” Micha Johnson, Springfield senior said. “Getting those muscles back is a little different. Getting the feel of the court instead of wearing cleats all the time is different.”
“The starting and the stopping,” Shawn McCullough, Springfield head basketball coach, said. “On the football field you get time, you get a play clock, you get to rest. Basketball, you know, they showed up yesterday and were getting up and down and you see them with their hands on their knees sucking wind, really tired and exhausted so it’s just a different type of conditioning.”
Because of the deep run into the postseason Springfield has already had to reschedule several basketball games, including one against Centerville that was scheduled for the same night as the football state championship game.
McCullough was patient, knowing he’d have to wait to get the varsity team in the gym to practice. He was on the sideline for every game watching the Wildcats enjoy the best season in school history.
“It was an awesome feeling,” McCullough said. “Seeing these guys, these young men win it’s very exciting. It was an exciting time for Springfield.”
For months though there was only one focus. That was trying to win a state championship in football.
“After Friday, I mean Friday night, that’s when we started talking about basketball,” Johnson said.
Both Muhammad and Johnson said it will only take a few games to start to feel comfortable. McCullough though shared a much more realistic timeline for what he’s seen in the past and what it’s like trying to make the quick turnaround.
“It’s going to take at least a month in my mind,” McCullough said. “The beauty of it, like I’ve shared with you in the past, is everyone gets to go to the tournament. Versus a situation in football where only so many teams go to the playoffs. We’ll be ready come tournament time.”
There’s one thing that isn’t changing from sports, that’s the expectations.
“I feel like changing from football to basketball really brings the winning mentality,” Muhammad said.
“We have to win games,” Johnson said. “We just have to win. In football our expectation was so high and we made it so far that we can’t fail on the basketball court.”
“People going to want to catch us early because once the tournament starts we’ll be ready to go,” McCullough said.
McCullough played both football and basketball in high school and knows what the transition is like. He’s also experienced what it’s like playing football and basketball with a lot of the same group of guys.
“I feel like we’re brothers,” Muhammad said. “We’ve been together, we’ve been together for months on football field and now transitioning to basketball. We feel together.”
Springfield was able to get Friday’s game against Fairmont rescheduled so the Wildcats will start the season Tuesday at Cincinnati St. Xavier.
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