0-12, Holmes Bear-ing up well

January 11, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

Don't look for Michael Holmes to slash his wrists just yet.

OK, Morgan State's rookie basketball coach is off to a stumbling 0-12 start. Since all 12 were on the road, the first glimpse Morgan's students will get of the Bears will be tomorrow (8 p.m.) when Maryland-Eastern Shore comes to Hill Field House.

Keep in mind that Holmes didn't arrive until July, that there was no time to recruit, that he is stuck with the remnants of last winter's squad and that he inherited a program that has endured 10 losing seasons in the last 11 years.

"It was a mess," Holmes said, "and I took the brunt of it."

Remember that Morgan's tallest player, 6-foot-9 Charles Solomon, transferred to Howard, that last season's leading scorer, Jamaine Williams, transferred (along with ex-coach Nat Frazier's son, Kenny) to North Carolina A&T and that No. 2 scorer Damone Williams graduated.

Still, there is no blood dripping from Holmes' wrists.

"One handicap is that the students couldn't develop spirit if we weren't here to be seen," Holmes said. "But the team has been admirable. No mumbling or grumbling. We got blown out a few times, but these guys are bears. Bears with a capital B. They've fought. They may be 0-12, but they enjoy practice."

Morgan wouldn't have opened the season with 12 straight games on the road if there hadn't been an opportunity to make a few bucks. Originally, the Bears had two home dates during this stretch, but dropped them for a road game at Georgia Tech and a spot in the Fleet Tournament in Providence.

Instead of bringing in maybe $4,000 for two home games, Morgan picked up about $40,000 for the road engagements.

Holmes has been around enough to know that this is going to take time. Originally from Chattanooga, Tenn., he played at Paine College in Augusta, Ga., scoring more than 2,000 points in a career that ended in 1973.

He served as a graduate assistant at Hampton University under Nat Frazier's brother, Sol, then was head coach at Benedict College, where he compiled a 93-119 record before spending the last four years as an assistant at Florida A&M.

The first bit of good news is that Holmes has Lynn Ramage, the first full-time basketball assistant in Morgan history.

"The administration decided on that before I got here," Holmes said. "They're trying to make basketball the premier sport here."

The second bit of good news is that Holmes already has a leg up on next season. During the early signing period, he wrapped up 6-10 Jarrod Smith of New York City, 6-7 Rojak West of Frederick, 6-8 Michael Brewer of Hagerstown and 6-3 Robert Holmes of Largo.

"I'm happy with that," Holmes said. "We did our homework."

Soon after he arrived, Holmes asked James McCoy, the No. 3 scorer last year and the No. 2 now with a 12.1 figure behind Glenn Smith (16.5), how many games Morgan had won during his time at the school.

"Thirty-four," McCoy answered.

"Thirty-four in three years," Holmes mused. "Something's not right."

Holmes knew that coming in, so why did he take the job?

"Morgan needed a coach who could come in and win," Holmes said. "I fit the bill. Villanova or some other major school isn't going to hire Michael Holmes, but Morgan will, and has. To show my gratitude, we're going to win."

Tomorrow night's home opener has been designated as Black Caucus Night, with state legislators on hand to be saluted.

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