Young postponed surgery for season to remember Coach of the Year

March 26, 1993|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

He had only one returning starter. His tallest players were 6 feet 4. Three students from last year's squad had transferred. The two returning reserves had been cut from the junior varsity three years ago.

For Meade coach Butch Young, the prospects for his 1992-93 team were bleak.

On top of it all, health problems made winter surgery seem likely for Young, but he chose to wait until after the season and coach for a 28th year.

It turned out to be a year to savor, not to forget.

Meade, picked to finish in the middle in Anne Arundel County, went 21-5 and reached the state Class 4A championship game at Cole Field House before losing to Largo of Prince George's County, 82-70.

"We just played consistently all year," said Young, whose record is 393-203. "A lot of people just didn't know if we were for real, but we remained consistent. In the beginning, we were depending on our starting five, then we went eight to nine deep. They didn't score much, but they were playing."

With most of the squad consisting of newcomers, Young had to adjust. No size, no problem. Speed and shooting are what counted. Young stressed fundamentals to his team of underachievers.

No players exemplified that more than senior guards Danny Sancomb and Tommy Stevens. In their freshman year, they were cut from the junior varsity. Sancomb chose to wrestle; Stevens became team manager.

They came back and made the JV as sophomores, and the next year their hustle and hard work earned them reserve roles on the varsity. This year, Sancomb was the Mustangs' leading scorer and Stevens was the defensive stopper.

"All year, people said that we weren't good, but what we have is desire," said Stevens, 6 feet. "Coach Young told us that we're not big, but we would be the quickest team in the county. We knew we had to play good defense and have good shot selection, and we just improved with each game."

And there's Derek Barrett, a flashy, 5-foot-10 guard who learned his moves from the playgrounds of southeast Washington.

Before the start of the season, Young went to Barrett and told him how important it was that he be a leader for the Mustangs. Barrett listened. He remained under control and developed into one of the county's best players, averaging 18.9 points and 4.0 assists.

"We knew we had the potential of being a good team," said Barrett, a senior. "I knew I had to slow my game down a little and try to be a leader because I was the only returning starter."

In the Region IV title game, Barrett scored 36 in a 78-71 victory over Annapolis, Meade's first in three attempts.

It also gave Young his 280th victory as Mustangs coach. Not bad considering he had thought the Mustangs would be, at best, 10-12.

After a 14-0 start, Young and the rest of the county became believers. Meade's first loss -- a 60-58 defeat to Southern-Anne -- Arundel -- occurred while Young was being tested for severe headaches and blurred vision. He could have taken the remainder of the season off, but didn't.

Young wasn't about to leave his players.

"These were a special group of kids from Day One," Young said. "There are stories about each one of these kids that's unbelievable."

Just like his season.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.