Brown, Hawks starting all over

October 15, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

Hagerstown Community College has three reasons to be anxious about the upcoming season.

One was brought on by the calendar. The second by trademark. And the third, by politics and carelessness.

Workouts have begun for the Hawks, who have another chance to prove their ability - but this time under a new identity, along with restrictions of a one-year probation from junior college basketball's national spotlight.

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"A new name, a new program and a new year," HCC coach Jim Brown said. "We won't let any of this affect our intensity. Every game we play, we have something to prove ... to maintain the style of play at HCC."

There's the first change. HCC used to be Hagerstown Junior College until the name change in July. The new season brings on new challenges for Brown and the Hawks, first and foremost dealing with an exile from Region XX play because of the use of an ineligible player during the second half of the season.


HCC will settle to win its battles in the Maryland JuCo Conference instead of on the national stage because of a misinterpreted rule concerning summer school and eligibility.

The altered outlook has given the Hawks an "us against the world" attitude. Only six sophomores return from last year, but they are six who wanted to return despite the adversity.

"I called the team together and gave each player the opportunity to leave if they wanted," Brown said. "I offered to help find them another place to play. So the six guys we have left are the guys who want to be here."

Leading the pack of returnees is 6-foot-3 guard James Fowler. The Philadelphia native was voted the Hawks' most valuable player last year because of his versatile game. He is listed among the top 25 JuCo players in the country by Street and Smith magazine.

"This team is more disciplined," Fowler said. "We aren't looking at this year as one that we can't work for the (Region XX) tournament. We will play like we are playing for the tournament. Having a winning season will be good enough."

Fowler will combine forces with Lavar Jackson, Lionel Jackson, Tahar Sutton and Chris Westbrook as the returning sophomore class.

"The sophomores worked hard over the off-season on their skills," Brown said. "But the one sophomore who will lead the way is Fowler. The problem is, I can't play him in too many positions."

Fowler, primarily a shooting guard, is working at point guard along with freshman Devin Carey, a North Hagerstown graduate. Others in the mix are Shawn Waller and Chemey Preston.

The key to HCC's success may be the development of the inside game, which is laden with freshmen. Leading the pack is T.J. Watson along with a pair of 6-foot-8 pivot players - Jeremy Small and South Hagerstown's Jake Windle - and Shawn Glasgow. David Covington shows promise at both forward positions.

HCC debuts at "Meet the Hawks" night 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the HCC athletic complex. The team will compete in the Green and White scrimmage, which is open to the public. The Hawks open the season on Nov. 2 against a Norwegian national team.

From there, HCC will be looking to reestablish its image.

"We will be out to make a statement with every game we play," Brown said.

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