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Hawks become a little older, a little wiser

November 03, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

This year, the Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team might be coming of age.

What a difference a year makes. It was just last season that it seemed like the Hawks were only Miners.

It will be a new and improved HCC team taking the floor on Friday against Frederick for the Region XX Hall of Fame Tournament at HCC's athletic complex. The Hawks have more of the intangibles - including speed and diversity - and all will be welcomed changes as the Hawks work through the 2005-06 season without last year's leading scorer, David Miner.

"We have five sophomores who know our system and two sophomore transfers coming in," said HCC coach Kenny Keyes. "This year's team doesn't play as much defense as last year's team, but the talent is there. There is no superstar, but I'm not worried. That will make us deeper all around."

Keyes said Miner, the former South Hagerstown standout, is redshirting this season with plans of returning in 2006-07.

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Without Miner, HCC will look to experience and team concept to get to the Maryland JuCo and Region XX promised land. HCC's starting five all played last season while the second unit is a mixture of youth, talent and quickness.

The Hawks will start 6-foot-2 Derrick Fields and 6-3 Emmanuel Jean-Francois at the guards, 6-4 Momodou Jobe and 6-7 Rayquan Miles at the forwards with 6-9 Jabel Sallah in the middle.

"All five of those guys know our system," Keyes said. "(Sallah) broke his foot early last season and didn't tell anyone, but then he was out and (Jean-Francois) was a redshirt last year."

Meanwhile, Keyes is anticipating some excitement and instant offense from the second unit.

The group will be fronted by 6-3 Tommy Cox and 6-0 Marquis Waters at guard with 6-5 Lavar Hage, of Chambersburg, Pa., 6-4 Ricardo Lovelace and 6-5 Lamar Richburg at forwards. Cox is a shooting guard from Cincinnati and is the cousin of HCC assistant coach Jeff Cox. Lovelace shows signs of being an impact-caliber player for the Hawks.

"Cox is a left-handed shooter and a good shot. He can score from anywhere, but he has to work on his defense," Keyes said. "Lovelace is a guy who can handle the ball and rebound. He will probably end up being our leading scorer by the end of the year. He has a big body and can score from inside or take it outside. He will be impossible for big guys to cover. Ricardo can be David (Miner), but he doesn't know it yet."

Rounding out the roster with the chance to see significant playing time are Ivin Randolph, an Urbana graduate, Randy Conley, Ryan Henry, Marcus Sugars and Dustin Jenkins, a Hancock graduate.

HCC will debut in the 8 p.m. nightcap against Frederick, a team which was one of the strengths of the Maryland JuCo Conference last season. Catonsville and Cecil, last year's Region XX champion, play in the 6 p.m. game. Friday's winners will play at 7 p.m. on Saturday for the tournament championship, immediately following the consolation game at 5 p.m. The Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremonies will be held after the tournament in the athletic complex's lobby.

Frederick, Cecil and Catonsville are all playing in the tournament to honor the induction of representatives of their schools. The ninth induction class will include three coaches - Frederick's Al Pansa, Cecil's Dick Brockell and Catonsville's Buck Workman - to bring the Hall to 27 members.

For the Hawks, it will be a chance to begin an induction of some big things this season.

"I'm very excited about this team," Keyes said. "They have a balance and they are good kids. If they learn to make the extra passes, play defense and rebound, we'll win 20 games. The sophomores are taking things over and the freshmen are looking up to them. That's the way it's supposed to be. That's when coaching is fun. And if it works, that's when you get to be region champions."

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