THE past six months are right up there with the toughest Ben Morris has had the deal with.
The one constant through it all though has been basketball, in particular the Shoalhaven Tigers.
After suffering a heart attack late last year, Morris, who will coach the Tigers youth league men's side as well as playing for Ian Ozolins' men's side, has a new lease on life - seeing him drop 15kgs and change up his diet.
"When the incident occurred, I was on the court with players from both my men's team but also my youth league side," Morris said.
"The first thing I thought about after it happened was that I just wanted to get back on the court and help the youth league side get better.
"Although they've tested my heart on the odd occasion at training, they've really rallied around me - as has the men's team.
"It speaks volumes to what the Tiger family is about."
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Morris' balancing act between coaching and playing will start on Saturday when they travel to the Snakepit to face Illawarra from 2pm.
"I jumped at the chance to coach this group of boys again, after coaching most of them in juniors," he said.
"They've all come a long way since then, especially in their attitude and desire to improve each and every day.
"All the boys have been training hard and they're all looking forward to a big year."
One of those boys Morris refers to is his son Brayden, who he will actually line up alongside in Ozolins' side.
"Obviously Brayden and I have the odd father and son moment, but our dynamic is fantastic at the moment," he said.
"Obviously as the captain and my son, I hold him to a higher standard and expect more from him but he's taken everything I've thrown at him.
"He's come a long way since I last coached him and he's going to be a big part of what we do this year."
Other Kennedy's Tours Tigers Morris will be counting on in 2020 will be local juniors Jack Callaghan, Matt Morrissey, Jared Baraguir, Jamaal Mcrae-Hurdle and Ja'afar Baraguir as well as Milton-Ulladulla products Jordan Bandur and Jonathan Taylor.
"When I put my hand up to coach, I told the group it was a two-year commitment regardless of our on-court result this year," he said.
"We've got a young group and I'm excited to see them build as a group."
Their first challenge will be trying to ground the Hawks on Saturday.
"All the way from under 12s, it's ingrained in Shoalhaven teams that Illawarra is the team you want to beat - there's a real rivalry there," he said.
"To get a win against our arch-rivals in our season opener would be an awesome effort and give the group plenty of confidence.
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"A lot of these boys haven't played at this standard before, so there might be some adjustment period.
"But if we continue to push the pace and play to our strengths, I'm confident the boys will be rewarded with success."
Success Morris hopes will see the Tigers seal a spot in the Waratah League finals in August.
"To have the finals weekend on our home court (Shoalhaven Indoor Sports Centre), there's no bigger motivator than that," Morris said.
"It's a goal we are striving for as a group and I have complete faith in the boys."
Morris' squad is also expected to add Kyle Leslie, Josh Watts and Olu Sowunmi following theirUnited States college seasons.