In Frederick, it's no frills for Flyers

March 10, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

FREDERICK -- They are united by their common love of the game and separated by their disparate talents and goals.

Some players in the Atlantic Basketball Association still have big dreams -- of the glamour, fortune and status attached to careers in the NBA.

Others have more modest aims -- to stay in shape and to supplement their incomes with the $60 to $80 per game pay, plus fringe benefits such as insurance and workmen's compensation.

Many teams play in drafty high school gyms with poor lighting, and crowds often can be counted by hand.

But there is always basketball. . . and the chance that conditions in the fledgling league will improve and lead to larger crowds and greater rewards.

The Frederick Flyers have entered this enterprise at ground level, with an owner who expects to absorb some financial blows, a coach who stresses a frenetic running style and players who fit more comfortably into the mold of those with limited objectives.

The Flyers play in one of the league's better arenas (Frederick Community College) and have attracted a number of former area collegians with names that fans recognize.

Terrance Jacobs (Towson State, 1992) considers the opportunity continuation of the game. It's a new league that will keep me in shape until some other things open in the summer. It's close to home, and it's not a bad league. It's just not established like the CBA or USBL."

Coppin State's all-time leading scorer, Reggie Isaac, said he loves basketball so much "I'll play for free."

Isaac, one of the ABA's top scorers at 21.5, already has played in the Continental Basketball Association and the World Basketball League. He no longer dreams of the NBA.

"That has pretty much faded away," said Isaac, who left Coppin in 1991 with 1,938 career points. "If a chance came along in the CBA, sure, I'd listen, but for now, this is something to do as a part-time job."

Jacobs and Isaac hold jobs in the Baltimore area.

Isaac works as a machine operator at US Cans, and Jacobs and a friend are self-employed in the carpet-cleaning business. At $60 a game -- the Flyers usually play twice a weekend -- they can't afford to quit their day jobs.

The Flyers roster is constantly changing. Of the original 16 players who launched the season in November, six are gone because of work commitments or personal reasons. Another, former Mount St. Mary's guard Cliff Warren, has decided to serve as an assistant coach.

Other players on the team with local ties include Antonio Harris (Frederick CC, UDC) and Duane Reiswig (Eastern Tech).

Among the departed are former Edgewood High, North Carolina and NBA player Dudley Bradley, Jeff Hall (Mount St. Mary's), Chuck Lightening (Towson State), Brian Watkins (UMBC) and Vince Broadnax (Maryland).

Often, coach Jim Weddle (Frederick CC, 1986-1993) is unaware who can make practices until they begin. The game roster, 12 active players determined by 5 p.m. Thursday for weekend games, fluctuates madly.

Warren said he doesn't believe the Flyers are thinking NBA. "There are a lot of guys on other teams in the league with pro experience, and they're pursuing it," he said. "I don't think ours are dreaming."

Frederick plays a crowd-pleasing style, flying around on the fast break. But Weddle is hindered by the lack of size and bulk on the guard-oriented roster.

The Flyers are 5-12 and in fifth place in the six-team league -- four qualify for the playoffs.

"A lot of teams are beating us with post play," said Jacobs. "We've got guys 6-6 and 6-7 going against guys 6-9 and 6-10."

The schedule is another difficulty. Sunday night games don't draw big crowds, especially when they follow a Saturday night home game.

Weddle patches and adjusts as players come and go. Practice is sometimes restricted to once weekly for lack of a quorum.

But he said: "We're probably the best operated organization in the league. The owner [John Balch] is committed to this."

So is Jacobs.

"I'm going to play until I can't walk any more," he said. "I think I'll be going at 32 or 33. . . . As long as I'm having fun, I'm playing."

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