UMBC coach Hawkins hopes next game isn't his last game

March 05, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- It was one of the biggest victories of Earl Hawkins' coaching career at UMBC, and he hopes he gets the opportunity to enjoy more like yesterday's upset of Campbell.

Hawkins is in the final season of a five-year contract, and he knows that the next game could be his last with the Retrievers. Athletic director Charlie Brown said that Hawkins' future doesn't hinge on the Retrievers' performance at the Big South Conference tournament, and that a decision to extend his contract will be made at the end of the season.

"Does Earl have to win this tournament?" Brown asked. "No. I haven't made up my mind yet what we're going to do. We'll let the whole season unfold, then sit back and talk to the various parties involved. In the next two weeks or so, we'll look at every aspect of the program."

Hawkins' five-year record is 58-83. Using players inherited from Jeff Bzdelik, UMBC went 17-11 in Hawkins' first season, 1988-89. The Retrievers need to win the Big South tournament and get a couple of NCAA upsets to avoid their fourth straight losing season, but UMBC has been in transition for all of Hawkins' tenure.

UMBC was an independent in Hawkins' first two seasons, and spent two in the East Coast Conference before moving to the Big South.

"I know the program has faced a lot of adversity, more than people can imagine," Brown said. "The basketball program is very important to UMBC, and we haven't had the strongest history of success. I realize it's hard to get over the hump."

The Retrievers' top player, Derell Thompson, was suspended in the preseason, and several regulars have been injured, but a win against Coastal Carolina in tonight's semifinal would give UMBC 13 wins, the most in four seasons. This is the Retrievers' third straight appearance in a conference tournament semifinal. In each of their ECC tournaments, they were eliminated by the No. 1 seed.

"The program is not stagnant," Hawkins said. "We've recruited good athletes. I feel good about coming back, but I have no idea about what's going to happen."

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