WAGGA Heat captain Zac Maloney has urged the club to fast track their young talent to prepare for future years after coach John Norman quit just seven games into their faltering Waratah Basketball League campaign on the weekend.
Norman informed the team of his decision after their 98-66 home loss to Canberra Gunners Academy on Saturday night, which consigned them to a 1-6 early season hole.
Wagga Wagga Basketball Association were due to hold a board meeting to discuss possible replacements on Monday night, with Heat senior players to attend.
Norman said work commitments was the major factor behind his decision.
"I've got a lot of work responsibility and it's a massive investment to the program," Norman said.
"Given it's a voluntary position, I just can't continue to do that and potentially jeopardise my employment."
After several competitive seasons, including making finals last year, this year's free fall has come as a surprise given their strong off-season recruitment drive.
"We've been a very competitive team for the last three or four years and this year we've really dropped off,": Maloney said.
"We have a much better team on paper, but we're not getting wins on the board unfortunately.
"We'll still try to compete this year, but it's more about building something for the next few years and getting something set in stone.
"He (Norman) made his decision during the week and told us after the game he was walking away. Everyone's a little bit shocked."
"Hopefully we can get someone in who will look to the future and develop some of our younger guys, as we have a pretty good young core coming through."
The Heat hope to have a replacement finalised before their road trip to Dubbo on Saturday.
"We'll look to get it sorted as soon as possible and hopefully have some answers in two or three days," Maloney said.
"I put my hand up at the start of the year wanting to do the coaching role, but all I want for the team is someone who will lay a good foundation.
"We need someone who's going to be there for a few years and implement a system we can stick to, rather than changing year in, year out.
"It's been a massive problem for us and we're always behind the eight ball in pre season."
Current assistant coaches Cam McKenzie and Paul Prouse could be options to step up, while it is understood former long-time Heat player Matt Bishop may be sounded out to gauge his interest.
Wagga Basketball senior representative director Summa Stephens said they will hear the views of affected parties before making a decision.
"John's got some work commitments where he's stood down from the team, and as an association we're working out steps forward and will liaise with the team to get their feedback on those next steps."