Women's Basketball: Hawks still looking to find identity

October 21, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI |

HAGERSTOWN — Vicky Bullett is learning the art of fence straddling.

That’s part of the balancing act it takes to be a coach, especially on the junior college level.

Bullett is starting her first season as Hagerstown Community College’s women’s basketball coach. And just like the coach herself, it is a time of new faces, terminology and procedures that leads to the noncommittal response coming off the first month of preseason practices.

“So far, so good,” Bullett said. “I’m optimistic, but I’m going to need to be patient.”

Optimistic equals looking for the best. Patient equals a wait-and-see attitude.

Which means the fence is like a gymnast’s balance beam.

HCC handed Bullett the keys to the women’s basketball program after Marlys Palmer retired from the position last season after more than three decades on the bench.

Bullett, the former Martinsburg, Maryland, Olympic and pro basketball star, continued to change the face of the program since starting practices on Oct. 1.

The Hawks have only two returning players — Boonsboro’s Ashley Smothers and Smithsburg’s Katie Sprecher. After that, there are 11 freshmen on the roster, which means a lot of optimistic teaching and patient prodding.

“Right now, it is a lot of fundamentals,” Bullett said. “They are getting used to the speed of the game. Not enough of them watch games.

“They are used to being the best player on the floor in high school and going 1-on-1 when things break down. I’m teaching them counter moves to go to when the offense breaks down, which it does at times during a game.”

Bullett is bringing a more up-tempo style to the floor for HCC. The Hawks have been working on defending the pick and roll, moving without the ball, the use of entry passes and the timing of making cuts — all aspects which meld into Bullett’s philosophy.

But because of the amount of newcomers on the team, everyone is starting on the ground level.

While Smothers and Sprecher bring experience to the HCC roster, Bullett has brought in freshmen talent which includes Sasha Orr and Deidra Burch.

Bullett called Orr a workhorse who is so quick, “she surprises herself,” and possesses the ability to hit deep 3-pointers.

Burch is a Berkeley Springs graduate who was one of the top scorers in school history. She is just rounding into shape and catching up after a number of ailments.

The Hawks will have scrimmages with Shenandoah and Alderson-Broaddus before heading into their season opener on Nov. 1 at Northern Virginia. Bullett will make her home debut on the HCC bench on Nov. 5 against Potomac State.

Until then, there is work to be done while sitting on the fence.

“I just want them to progress and learn to anticipate,” Bullett said. “I have high expectations. I know they will surprise me.”

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