HAGERSTOWN — Barry Brown is holding an exclusive sale.
For a limited time, the Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball coach is offering playing time to the most deserving bidders of the 16 members on the Hawks’ 2011-12 team. It won’t be a matter of what they can afford as opposed to what they earn.
“There is going to be a lot of competition for playing time in this group,” Brown said. “There is only so much time to go around.”
With five players on the floor at a time in a 40-minute regulation game, there are only 200 minutes to wrestle over. For the Hawks, proof is in the putting out, starting when HCC opened preseason practice on Saturday (Oct. 1).
The Hawks have five returning players to go with a cast of seven newcomers to provide another mix of talent for Brown in the ever-revolving door of junior college basketball.
“We have a lot of experience back. It’s the new guys who will bring the length, athleticism and depth we need. They will give us what we want to do,” Brown said.
At HCC, that’s jailbreak-style basketball. It’s running, gunning and defending opponents into becoming just a step slower at the end of the game to gain the advantage.
It’s a style that takes a lot of energy and forces Brown to break playing time into small fragments to get the most out of players. And anyone who enjoys desserts knows that 12-15 slices out of a pie aren’t that filling.
“I want to wear down the other team with a deep bench,” Brown said. “It’s tough to rate the players because the 13th one on the roster might be your best player on a given day. We want to use every inch on the 94-foot floor. We want each player to play hard for only so many minutes so they want to leave the floor to let their buddy in.”
The starting point for the Hawks will revolve around three returnees who thrived in a similar setting last season, so much so, they led HCC to the Region XX title.
Devin Miller, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, was HCC’s leading scorer and earned Region XX tournament MVP honors, while 6-6 Alister Chisholm came on strong in the last half of the season to become one of the team’s top scorers.
Tione Womack, at point guard, gave MVP-caliber play before missing the second half of last season. His ability to penetrate and score or pass the ball off opened up the floor for the Hawks.
“Miller and Chisholm are our two known commodities and have been battle tested in the big-game situations,” Brown said. “Womack is hungry and has a lot to prove.”
Josh Boyd is HCC’s top returning big man, while Jerel Carter returns after missing most of last season with a foot injury.
HCC picked up a wide array of talent and size through recruiting, featuring a number of players from the Baltimore-Washington area. Two who may stick out are Jean Eddy Clerius, a Martinsburg graduate, and Robel Hurui, a 7-foot-3 center from Riverdale Baptist.
“We recruited for an up-tempo game with a combination of shooting and slashing to the basket ... more for the slashing,” Brown said. “It should be an exciting brand of basketball to watch. Most of these guys are from championship programs and are used to winning.”
But all the work began Saturday as the Hawks began jockeying for playing positions. The season opens in five weeks and HCC will face six teams that beat them last year before Christmas.
“We have to come out of the gates in a sprint,” Brown said. “It’s not going to be pretty all the time early, but we need to be effective. We have to be patient and mold this team over the year. To win championships, you have to hit big shots, foul shots and get defensive rebounds. The message is sinking in already.”