Micah Saltzman stood after a tough practice with a huge smile on his face.
He has many reasons to smile, including the fact he’s been tabbed to replace one of the best players in Athens Bulldog history.
Griffin Lutz, one of three 1,000 scorers in Bulldog history, graduated last year and is now playing at Marietta College.
Replacing a player that coach Mickey Cozart repeatedly called the “best point guard in Southeastern Ohio,” seems like a tough task.
Saltzman and his teammates are up for that challenge.
“We’re ready for it,” Saltzman said. “A lot of people are bouncing up.”
No single player can replace what Lutz brought to the Bulldogs. He was somebody that had a green light to shoot — to do whatever — and was the heart and soul of the Bulldog offense. Saltzman probably won’t step into that role, but will use his teammates to have success.
Athens returns four starters — Saltzman included — so there is experience coming back. They know the system, and each other.
And Cozart is confident Saltzman will run the system with a lot of success.
“He’s going to step in and run what we want to run at a high level,” he said.
Saltzman can use and rely on the players around him, like his backcourt partner Dalton Cozart, or role players Eli Chubb to create open shots for the Bulldogs. And if those shots don’t fall, big men Justin Hynes and Robert Dickelman, will be there to rebound.
“They’re animals down there,” Saltzman said.
The Bulldogs have experience coming back. They won a sectional championship last year, and played in The Convo. They played together, in their system a lot in the offseason. Saltzman will use that experience to try leading Athens back to The Convo this year.
“That’s huge, knowing you can trust everyone on the court with you at anytime,” he said.
Even with the departure of Lutz, the Bulldogs are confident they can make it back.
“We’re pretty confident in the guys we have this year to run our system,” Mickey said. “We’ve already been able to add to that and get better than that.”