Picture this: Dons' O'Hara developing into solid player

December 20, 1993|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Loyola boys basketball coach Jerry Savage remembers Tim O'Hara's coming-out party like it was yesterday.

Actually, it was Jan. 10, 1992.

O'Hara, then a sophomore, was keeping the bench warm for his fellow Dons at the University of Baltimore when Savage, in need of something to thwart a late charge by St. Frances, put him in the game.

The substitution paid off as O'Hara scored 13 points in the closing minutes to secure a 66-55 victory that put an end to a three-game skid for the Dons.

"That was the first time he showed how good he can play," said Savage.

His encores have only gotten better.

After averaging 11.7 points a game for the Catholic League and MSA Armstrong A League regular-season champions last season, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior swingman is leading the Dons in scoring -- 17.2 points per game -- and also is averaging 11 rebounds and five assists per game.

"He's matured an awful lot as a player and as a person," said Savage, whose team dropped to 4-2 following yesterday's 80-63 loss to Chestnut Hill (Pa.), despite a 21-point performance by O'Hara. "He's gotten to the point where he's playing with a lot of confidence and being on varsity for three years helps a lot. He's definitely been our most consistent player all season."

O'Hara, a resident of Severna Park, started the season with a 28-point effort in a victory over Wilde Lake, scored 22 points and had 14 rebounds in a win over St. Mary's and scored 18 points in Loyola's rout of Spalding last week.

Severn first-year coach Wayne Fowler, who coached O'Hara's Severna Park Green Hornets 13-14 team that included Virginia-bound Norman Nolan of Dunbar and Duke-bound Steve Wojciechowski of Gibbons, said he never imagined O'Hara would raise his game to its current level and attributes his success to his commitment to improving.

"When he first came out, he was very raw," said Fowler. "He wasn't as talented as the others at that stage and he had less height. But he worked hard to make himself one of the best in the state. I'd like to sit and take the credit for how he has turned out, but Timmy was the one who went out and shot 100 baskets a night and played as much ball as he could."

Despite Fowler's attempt to downplay his role, O'Hara maintains he wouldn't be half the player he is today without Fowler's early guidance.

"Coach Fowler taught me a lot and I owe a lot of credit to him," he said. "He taught me a lot about fundamentals, but what I really learned from him was to always play as hard as you can."

Last summer, playing hard meant competing in four leagues -- two basketball and two lacrosse. He played in outdoor summer basketball leagues at Truxton Park in Annapolis and Lake Waterford Park in Pasadena and honed his defensive skills in the Hero's League at Anne Arundel Community College and the Loch Raven Summer Lacrosse League in Baltimore.

Such an active schedule might be stressful for many, but it's par for the course for a guy who endures a 45-minute commute from his residence in Severna Park to his second home on the Blakefield campus.

"It's a hectic pace, but I'm used to it," said O'Hara, who last summer attended the coveted Top 205 All-Star Lacrosse Camp, which brings together the nation's top high school lacrosse players. "Some days I would have two games and I would have to leave one early to make it to the next, but I know in the long run, it's going to pay off.

"I know that I'm blessed with God-given talent and I just want to use it as much as I can. I don't want any regrets down the road."

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