Late August is normally a good time for a university basketball coach to kick back and relax before training camp opens.
Scott Clark, head coach of the TRU WolfPack men's team, doesn't have that luxury.
Clark, heading into his fourth season at TRU, was rocked by the departure of three players this month, leaving him with a large hole to fill before the team starts practising next month.
Twin brothers Blaz and Ivan Bozinovic have joined a professional team in Croatia, while Justin King, who was to return to the WolfPack after taking a season off, isn't academically eligible to play.
"Most of the (recruiting) work is done by May," Clark said Tuesday. "By August, a guy can kick up his feet and take it a little bit easy."
Clark always knew it would be an uphill battle to get King back, but was shocked when the Bozinovic brothers came to him at the start of the month to declare their intentions to play professionally with KK Cibona. Their mother, Mary, said that the twins left Canada two weeks ago and are practising and training with Cibona's A team in Zagreb, the Croatian capital.
Blaz and Ivan, 6-foot-11 graduates of St. Ann's Academy, had played two seasons with the WolfPack, steadily improving from raw rookies into dependable sophomores. Their family is originally from Croatia, and Blaz played for its national team at the under-20 European championships this summer; the manager of that team also manages Cibona.
Clark was pretty tight-lipped about the twins' departure, other than saying that he's happy for them.
"In terms of our numbers and our depth, it hurts us," he said.
The return of King, a guard from Las Vegas, was eagerly anticipated. In his lone season with the WolfPack, 2011-12, King led the team in scoring and proved to be one of the more talented players to ever don a TRU jersey.
But he didn't make the grade and returned to the U.S. He decided in the spring to come back to the WolfPack, but had to pass six summer classes to be eligible.
He managed to pass five.
"Unfortunately, he kind of decided late that he wanted to come back," Clark said. "If he had decided in September, he could have taken two or three classes in the fall, and some more in the spring. Then, if he needed to pick up a class in July, he would have had time to do that."
This puts the WolfPack in a bind with training camp set to open after Labour Day.
Clark went into the summer hoping he would have 13 players show up, including his prize transfers in King, Reese Pribilsky, Tallon Milne and South Kam grad Josh Wolfram.
Wolfram, who played two seasons with the Calgary Dinos, is 6-foot-10 and expected to start, as are Milne, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Simon Fraser, and guard Pribilsky, the brother of former WolfPack guard and current assistant coach Kevin Pribilsky.
"We're better," Clark said of the moves, "but (losing the Bozinovics and King) really hurts our depth."
Clark, instead of spending his August fishing, has been on the phone for the past few weeks, trying to secure a few warm bodies before the season. He has 10 right now.
"We've got some lines in the water, and we've had a few nibbles," Clark said. "We'll have to see if we might get a bite or two."
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