Mitchell takes No. 400 in stride Coppin State coach focuses on 'big picture' after milestone victory

January 26, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PRINCESS ANNE -- Fang Mitchell paced in front of Coppin State's bench. He wiped his face with his hands, waved his arms, stomped his feet and hollered. And this was during the first minute of the game.

By the end, Mitchell had covered more ground than a marathoner. But he had more to show for it, too -- his 400th career win.

Not that he enjoyed it much. Coppin rallied in the last six minutes to defeat UMES, 69-60, at Tawes Gymnasium, but if that were reason to celebrate, Mitchell couldn't see it.

His vision was locked on what he calls "the big picture."

"I can understand why sports psychologists make good money," he said, after spending about 20 minutes in the locker room with his team, yelling much of the time.

"I'll take a road win, but it's all about the big picture. That's what we talked about -- attitudes. You've got to be focused and not take anything for granted, like we did tonight."

Junior center Terquin Mott led Coppin with game highs of 25 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Reggie Welch added 12 points and nine rebounds.

Senior guard Aaron McKinney had 23 points for UMES (9-10, 4-5), which has lost four in a row and is tumbling down the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings after a hot start. He has scored 57 points in two games against Coppin this season.

The Hawks shot 41 percent, but they led 53-51 with seven minutes remaining. Coppin (9-7, 6-0) then ran off eight straight points to give Mitchell a milestone he had little use for at that moment.

"If you look at the big picture, 400 wins doesn't mean anything," he said. "And I'm always looking at the big picture."

For most of the game, he watched Mott dominate.

Within the first six minutes of the second half, Mott had thrown down three dunks, made a turnaround jumper from the baseline and scored inside. One of his jams caused a brief stoppage while an official retrieved the ball, which had bounded to midcourt.

Mott did his part to silence the Hawks, but they wouldn't go quietly. A 7-0 run, completed by a reverse layup from Alexander Mobley (Dunbar), put UMES ahead 51-49 with 8:30 remaining. Two free throws by McKinney broke a 51-51 tie, but Coppin's Allen Watson made a three-pointer while falling forward and with the shot clock winding down.

Mitchell's two seniors, Watson and Kyle Locke, played key roles down the stretch. UMES had closed within two on a put-back by Mobley with 2:20 left. With coach Jeff Menday yelling at his players to believe in themselves, Locke hit a three-pointer from the corner that took the air out of the Hawks.

Welch's steal and layup extended the lead to 64-57. Julian King added a dunk, Watson hit two free throws, and No. 400 was in the bag.

"I'm 0-4 against [Mitchell]. It stings," Menday said. "But congratulations to him. He's a credit to the program."

UMES center John Woods missed his third straight game because of an ankle injury suffered during a 13-point loss at Morgan State. He's due back next week, but the Hawks could have used the 6-foot-6 sophomore last night. They clearly were in need of some help against Mott.

Mott scored the game's first five points, and his two free throws with 5:10 left in the half gave Coppin a 21-20 lead. He hit twice more from the line to complete a 14-2 run that included a steal and layup from Antoine Brockington.

The Eagles shot 71 percent in the second half, and 60 percent for the game. But they couldn't pull away until the end, and they couldn't satisfy their coach.

"With a game like tonight, when you turn the ball over and don't play good defense, I'm not going to be happy with anything," Mitchell said.

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