Hawks passed early test

November 13, 1996


Staff Writer

This is one of those rare seasons where Hagerstown Junior College basketball coach Jim Brown might turn in his whistle for a pair of pom-poms.

The coaching job is different at HJC this season. Over the years, Brown's job has been to drive the Hawks to success. This year, it might be a case of teaching his freshman-laden team how to attain it.

That first step came last Friday in HJC's 95-82 season-opening win over Howard. Brown planned to use the first game as a measuring stick for the Hawks' progress. It turned out that HJC stood pretty tall.


"It wasn't all A's but I'd have to give our guys A's for effort," Brown said. "I couldn't find fault with one of our players. I have no reason to be a critic. With that kind of effort, I have to be more of a cheerleader than a critic."

It's a slightly different approach for the HJC coaching staff. Usually, the technical side of the game is preached more than the emotional aspect.

"We are going to see if my staff has graduated from the psychology of coaching," Brown said. "If we win, the players have to be positive and feel good about it because that will make them strive to get the next win."

The next attempt will come soon enough. After a 10-day lull between games, HJC jumps back into play with an exhibition against the Tunisian Olympic Team next Tuesday, followed by a return to the regular season on Wednesday against Catonsville, which went to the National JuCo Division III tournament last season.

"It will be interesting to see what this team can do against the different types of clubs they will face this season," Brown said.

Even after one game, the Hawks are changing. On Tuesday, James `Rip' Morse will see his first action for HJC after missing the opener for disciplinary reasons. Brown also announced that Damian Johnson, who scored three points off the bench against Howard, has been "academically removed" from the roster.

And despite the glowing review of HJC's opening effort, Brown won't deny there is still room for improvement.

"Obviously, we'd like to shoot better from the foul line, but that will come," Brown said. "Any coach in the country will tell you that their team has to work on the half-court offense."

Still, the pluses outweighed the minuses.

Brown said he was pleased with the way the players distributed the ball; the quickness of Bobby Wimbush, Devon Wade, James Stokes and Chris Jones inside the paint and the work of the point guards bringing the ball up the floor.

"I like the way the players came out in the game and got after it," Brown said. "They came out like they had to prove a point ... to prove that freshmen could play with sophomores. Now we have to keep them mentally and physically on track to understand what it takes to get in the zone of success and keep them there."

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