Annapolis again called team to beat by foes

December 07, 1993|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer

Annapolis hasn't won a region title for three years and was 17-7 last season, but county coaches once again are tagging the Panthers as "the team to beat" in Class 4A.

Broadneck is the county's Class 3A team and the Bruins' chances of winning the East Region and earning a trip to the Final Four at College Park are very good.

Southern is unquestionably the toast of Class 2A and a legitimate state title contender with returning county Player of the Year Chatney Howard.

Last year was the first time in over 20 years that Annapolis went two consecutive seasons without winning its region title and it was the first time in John Brady's 16 years as the Panthers' head coach. Meade won last year's Region IV title (now East Region) while Old Mill did it the year before.

It was the first time Annapolis was shut out two years in a row since Arundel won back to back region titles in 1970 and '71.

Meade coach Butch Young, Coach of the Year last season after leading the Mustangs to their third region title in 10 seasons (1983 and 1988 were the others) expects his team to be down and is pointing to Annapolis to regain its status.

Young is not alone.

"Yeah, but you know Brady, when he's been down, he usually comes back with an explosion," said Arundel coach Gerald Moore.

Old Mill coach Paul Bunting says, "Annapolis is head and shoulders above everybody else."

Annapolis returns seven players, including second-team All-County senior forward Larry Brown (6-3) and Brady is not surprised the majority of coaches are picking his Panthers.

"Why not, aren't we the team to beat every year?" he asked.

Led by returning All-County junior Jason Smith, Broadneck should be the class of a 3A East Region that includes Baltimore City's Carver, City and Poly.

Southern's 2A East Region is loaded with last year's State 1A champion Dunbar and the 1A runner-up Cambridge-South Dorchester, but the Dawgs have surrounded Player of the Year Howard with a lot of talent. Howard, the only county public school player listed among Street & Smith's preseason honorable mention All-Americans, can carry a team.

"We've had good luck against Cambridge over the years and if we get Dunbar on a neutral court, who knows," said Southern coach Tom Albright.

Defending MSA B Conference Champion Severn School has a new head coach and a new league.

Wayne Fowler has succeeded Jim Doyle as the Admirals' head coach but is no stranger to the program. Fowler was an assistant to Doyle, who led the Admirals to their finest season in school history at 25-2, including its first MSA B Conference title in boys basketball.

Local rivals Archbishop Spalding and St. Mary's are back in the B Conference with the Admirals.

Severn appears loaded for this level of play with six returnees, including superb junior John Vereen and a couple key transfers in Alhamisi Simms and Jaylonnie Booth.

St. Mary's and Spalding lack height and experience at the varsity level and aren't expecting to be contenders like Severn.

Annapolis

Should it be surprising that opposing coaches are calling Annapolis "the team to beat" even though the Panthers haven't won their region the past two seasons?

While it would be considered a great year at most schools, the Panthers' 17-7 mark last season was a downer for them. It marked only the third time (19-5 in 1979-80 and 17-7 in 1982-83) in Brady's 16 years as head coach his team didn't hit the 20-win level.

However, Annapolis took two out of three from eventual region-winner Meade, winning the Friendship Division title over the Mustangs.

Annapolis was 9-5 at one point in the season and went on to win eight of its last 10 games. Unfortunately for the Panthers, one of those losses was by 78-71 to Meade in the region final.

"We really came on at the end and we've got seven players back," said Brady.

"Our strength is that we are really deep. We can go 10 to 11 players deep."

Employing the run-and-gun offense he learned in 1989-90 (state-title year) from then Loyola Marymount coach Paul Westhead, who is now at George Mason, Brady uses at least 10 players to fulfill the "84 feet for 32 minutes" philosophy. Those words appear on all Panthers basketball letterheads and team attire.

"We're going to play even faster this year because I'm giving up on man-to-man defense, and we're going to let the other teams score and see if they can outscore us," said Brady.

Larry Brown, 6-foot-3, second-team All-County last year, heads up the returning seniors, including Kelsey Watkins (6-0), Lewis Day (6-2), Rico Lee (6-2) and Rodney Watts (6-7). A sixth senior is Juan Johnson (6-1), who played two years ago, and who will share point guard with returning junior Teshawn Cooper (5-8).

Junior Ronnie Johnson (6-4) is the other returnee, and JV grads Lenny Barber (6-7) and Damion Day (6-5), both juniors, give Brady quality depth at the center position with Watts.

"They'll [opponents] have to try and keep up with us," said Brady.

Archbishop Spalding

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