Having been involved in lacrosse for more than 40 years, Buddy Beardmore is used to being a man down at least once a game.
He found himself in a similar predicament last night, but the sport was men's basketball, and the missing person just happened to be the coach.
Following the sudden resignation of Mark Amatucci Saturday, Beardmore, the college's athletic director, thought he'd be manning the sidelines for Anne Arundel Community College's game against visiting Columbia Union last night.
Instead, a more suitable replacement was found -- in Arizona, where assistant Mark Healy had gone on business.He returned in time for last night's 80-79 loss and will remain the men's coach for the rest of the season.
"We were able to reach himin time and bring him back," said Beardmore, the men's lacrosse coach. "I'm actually relieved. He probably has forgotten more about basketball than I ever knew."
Spared from making his hoops debut, Beardmore watched from the bleachers as Anne Arundel lost in the closing seconds.
"I feel very confident and very happy to have him. He has some big shoes to fill, but he's been watching and I'm sure he'll do well," Beardmore said.
Even legendary Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach would find guiding the Pioneers a challenge these days.
Already on one-year's probation, the team lost three players after the first semester for academic reasons, including leading scorer Keith Thompson and starting point guard Ralph Purnell -- both Lake Clifton graduates. Reserve Steve Mackey of Meade also was lost for the season because of grades.
And last Thursday, newcomer Jamal Harris of Southern in Baltimore had to miss Anne Arundel's game at Essex because of a delinquent bill for spring semester classes -- a situation unknown to Amatucci until shortly before tip-off. Harris still hasn't appeared in a game, and Anne Arundel only had eight available players last night.
After the Pioneers lost to Essex, 61-47, Amatucci placed theblame on "too many distractions off the court."
They rebounded Saturday with a 85-71 win over Harford to improve to 10-4 overall, but then came Amatucci's shocking announcement to his players that he wassurrendering his positions as coach and assistant athletic director after 2 1/2 seasons.
"It was pretty rough. There were a lot of emotions, a lot of tear drops," said sophomore Mike Davis (Archbishop Spalding).
At least the Pioneers' had Healy to lead them against Columbia Union (6-7), a team the Pioneers rallied to beat, 88-84, in November.
Healy's other head coaching experience included a stint with the freshman team at Calvert Hall. He worked as Amatucci's assistant for one year at Loyola and three years at Anne Arundel.
"It's not too bad, because Mark has given me a lot of responsibility in practice. He made me feel comfortable," said Healy, who becomes Anne Arundel's fourth coach, following Bruce Springer, Joe Spencer and Amatucci.
Healy added that it was "way too early" to think about his long-term plans.
Sophomore Ray Osborne (Meade) led Anne Arundel with 25points, followed by James Sharps (Meade) with 19, Andy Srebroski (Northeast) with 17 and Lester Lee (South River) had 11.
Columbia Union's Danny Cornelius led all scorers with 29 points.