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HJC preparing for tough stretch

November 19, 1996

By BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writer

Hagerstown Junior College basketball coach Jim Brown figured he had the horses for a successful year after watching the Hawks' season-opening victory over Howard.

Now he'll see if they have the endurance to cope with a grueling schedule, beginning tonight at 8 when HJC plays host to the Tunisia National team at the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

"What I'm anxious to see is who has a tiger in their tank," Brown said. "We want to see who wants to step up and take the challenge ahead."

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It will be an interesting couple of nights for the Hawks, who face Tunisia tonight and return Wednesday to meet Catonsville Community College in a Maryland JuCo Conference game. It's been 11 days since HJC's first and only game, a 95-82 victory over Howard.

In Tunisia, HJC will face a much older team. Wednesday, the Hawks will have to contend with one of the better JuCo teams in Maryland.

"We'll have to psyche them up to play two games in a row," Brown said. "We have to see if they have the stamina to come back and play the second night. The first night will be a physical test against men who have been playing against physical Division I four-year schools in the Northeast. We have to do what we have to to win, but not overdo it because we have to come back the second night and face one of the top three teams in our region."

Tunisia dropped the first five games of its eight-game tour before defeating Holy Cross, 96-86, Sunday night. The Tunisians lost to Wagner, Columbia, Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island and Manhattan.

The major early concern about the Hawks is their strength. Center Bobby Wimbush (6-foot-6, 210 pounds) and forwards Devon Wade (6-8, 210), James Stokes (6-5, 205) and Chris Jones (6-6, 180) are quick, but lack a dominating inside presence.

In fact, the quartet collected 18 fouls, with Jones and Wade fouling out against Howard when it slowed the tempo to a halfcourt pace.

"We have to get smarter than that," Brown said. "That's going to be something we will be working on all year. We have to be able to cut down on the fouls, but we can't be playing soft inside either. We have to learn the difference."

HJC will unveil its touted "Fresh Five" lineup tonight, when guard James Morse, a 3-point shooting specialist, joins four other freshmen after missing the opener for disciplinary reasons. Point guard Brian Samuels, Stokes, Wade and Wimbush are expected to join Morse in the starting lineup.

"We haven't been practicing against the kind of maturity that we will see (tonight)," Brown said. "I'm not ready to make any bold statements about this team until Christmas, after I've seen them play for awhile."

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