Summer workouts pay off for Milford Mill star Hurd

January 03, 1995|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

The weekday routine of Blanchard Hurd rarely varied this past summer.

The Milford Mill basketball star arose at 6 a.m. and went to a local court to work on his game. Day after day, he labored alone for two hours, practicing things such as going more to his right, outside shooting and dunking.

"I just wanted to get better," said Hurd. "I'm never going to be satisfied with how I played."

But Hurd has gotten some satisfaction from the early part of this season. Through No. 14 Milford Mill's first six games, the 6-foot-7 senior averaged 31.8 points along with 15.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks for the defending Class 1A state champions.

Though Hurd led the Millers to their second state title in three years last March -- capped by a 26-point performance in the state title game against Wilde Lake -- he wanted to improve for his senior season.

So off to the courts he went during the summer. The 210-pound Hurd followed a meticulous routine -- 10 free throws, 20 inside moves to the left, 20 to the right, 50 jumpers, 10 layups from the right side off the left foot and 10 from the left side off the right foot before working on dunking.

Hurd could play aggressively inside, but he wanted more power. If Hurd got the ball down low last year, he more often went left than right to shoot. Hurd wanted to erase his predictability.

"I'm a better all-around player this year," said Hurd. 'Everything wasn't put together last year. I could do everything, but not all of the time."

Camps and tournament play also helped Hurd last summer. Hurd attended some tough camps, most notably the Five-Star, where he averaged 12 points playing against some of the nation's top talent.

His AAU team from Cecil-Kirk went to California and Florida for tournaments. Hurd started and played strongly on a team that included Shawnta Rogers and Reggie Frazier of Lake Clifton plus John Hemsley of Southern.

Hurd also played in the Charlie Weber Tournament at Cole Field House in September. Matched against 6-11 All-American Randall Jackson from Boston, Hurd racked up 28 points and 12 rebounds.

"[All of those] built up my confidence," said Hurd. "I thought if I could play well nationally, there's no reason I can't play well locally."

And he has played well locally. The four-year varsity player often uses power for Milford Mill -- a change from last season, when finesse was often his calling card.

A recent game at Westminster saw Hurd repeatedly drive to the basket instead of taking his former trademark fall-away jumper. Hurd scored 32 points from all over the court and dominated in the paint.

"I think he's a much better player than what he was last year," said Westminster coach Dave Byers. "He's definitely got more ++ moves. He's expanded his game."

Said Milford Mill assistant coach Ralph Murray: "You ever know which way he's going to go."

For Hurd, the expansion of his game begins a transition to college basketball.

The honor roll student and class president had not heard much from colleges before the summer. The calls began coming, however, after his strong performances with his AAU team and at the camps.

Hurd eventually narrowed his final choices to Loyola, Delaware, Howard and Towson State. Saying Loyola best fit his athletic and academic (major in communications) needs, he signed with the Greyhounds and continues to work in preparation for college basketball.

"Things are coming into their own," said Milford Mill coach Homer Seidel. "He's definitely up a level. I think the transition to college basketball is all up to Blanchard."

This year, however, could be tougher for Hurd. Graduation left several holes from the championship team of a year ago, and Milford Mill (4-2) already has stumbled a bit.

Some questions on offense will force Hurd to carry more of the load -- but he's ready.

"I've improved a lot offensively," said Hurd. "It feels good when you know you're a better player. When you take your game to another level, you know it."

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