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HCC men's basketball team loses its Keyes

March 09, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Kenny Keyes spent the last five years trying to get the Hagerstown Community College men's basketball team to run the break.

On Thursday, Keyes decided to take one himself.

Keyes resigned after five seasons as HCC's coach, which was announced in an e-mailed press release by atheltic director Robert Myers. It ended what became a tedious tenure for the affable Keyes. The search for his replacement will begin immediately.

"Kenny resigned because he feels like he needs to take a break from coaching," Myers said. "He felt it was time to step away and concentrate on his job as facility coordinator here at the college."

Keyes did not return phone calls and was unavailable for comment.

Keyes, who guided the Hawks to a 72-71 record in the five years, accepted the task of trying to keep the HCC program at the lofty level it had enjoyed after longtime coach Jim Brown retired in 2002 after 23 years and 517 victories.

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Keyes, who played and coached for Brown as an assistant at HCC, kept the same game philosophy as his predecessor, but struggled to maintain the same results.

HCC finished 8-20 this season and was the 13th seed in the 16-team Maryland JuCo Conference tournament, losing in the first round. The Hawks also were eliminated in the semifinals of the Region XX tournament for the fifth time in the five years.

It all led to Keyes' decision and signaled the beginning of the need to revive the program.

"We have a plan in place," Myers said. "We have had people out in the last 24 hours looking around for us. We think we will be able to find someone qualified to take the job because of the facility and the tradition of the program."

Myers said there is no urgent timetable to fill the position, but the process will start as quickly as possible. HCC is advertising the opening today.

"I think there will be a lot of interest locally," he said. "It is essentially the head coaching job. It will only be a part-time job because it doesn't include a position at HCC."

Myers said HCC will be in the market for "a good basketball person, but they must be able to balance the academic demands to help the players move on in their education." The school also is interested in a strong recruiter who can bring in players who will accept the Hawks' program, both on the floor and academically.

Candidates will be screened by a committee headed by assistant athletic director Jason Weddle. The committee will include a school instructor and a player. The committee will interview the candidates, both in person and over the phone.

After the committee picks its top three candidates, Myers will become involved in selecting the new coach.

"Our reputation will precede us," Myers said of the process.

HCC is scheduled to have five returning players next season, including Leon Nelson and John Long, who both finished the season among the top 10 rebounders in the nation.

They will be the starting point for Keyes' successor.

Myers commended Keyes for his service. "He has worked hard and I would not be surprised to see him return to the coaching ranks sometime in the future," he said in his release.

"Kenny has been with this program for 22 years," Myers said. "He is a real asset to the school."

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