Lucien gets the point at UMBC

ON COLLEGES

February 04, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Ron Lucien walked onto UMBC's basketball team as a sophomore last season and wound up playing in seven games. But little did he know what that would lead to this winter.

Lucien, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., has made three consecutive starts at point guard. He never had played the position at any level.

A knee injury to starter Eric Hayes and subsequent arthroscopic surgery on Jan. 18 led to first-year coach Tom Sullivan's decision. Hayes' backup was Kenya Merritt, a transfer from Champlain (Vt.) College who lacked experience. He had done an admirable job after Hayes went down earlier this season and missed seven games, but with the losses piling up, it was time to experiment.

Lucien, normally a shooting guard, moved to the point during the second half of a Jan. 20 game against North Carolina-Asheville and collected 10 assists.

He made his first start two nights later against North Carolina-Greensboro and played all 40 minutes, hitting three of five shots, getting three rebounds and three assists, and making just two turnovers. He also had a game-high eight assists against Radford on Monday night.

"On the scout teams, he always played the point for us," Sullivan said. "We knew once Eric Hayes went down, we were going to have a problem. After he played in practice and we kept using him at the point, we said 'Well, we're going to try you in a game.' "

That was fine with Lucien, an easygoing sort who enjoys the music of Duke Ellington and whose hobbies include writing, playing the piano and tropical fish. "I've known all along that I'd be placed in a situation like this. It was just a matter of time," he said. "When it happened, I already was mentally prepared. And I think I took to it pretty well."

The transition hasn't been completely smooth. Sullivan said Lucien got "a little rattled" during the second half against Radford, and he removed him for Merritt, who settled down the team. But before yesterday, Lucien had 38 assists, compared to 33 for Merritt, despite making 12 fewer starts.

Coppin's Parks leads MEAC

he basketball talent at Coppin State isn't restricted to the men's program. Take a look at Eagles senior Natasha Parks, who began last week as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's leading scorer.

Parks, a 5-foot-11 forward, is averaging 20.8 points and more than seven rebounds. She also averages 2.2 steals and is shooting almost 70 percent from the line.

"Everybody can see from the stats that when she doesn't play well, we don't play well," said coach Tori Harrison, whose team was 7-10 after Wednesday's 55-49 loss to Loyola, when Parks was limited to nine points.

Earlier this season, Parks scored 21 points against nationally ranked Virginia, and had 30 points and 11 rebounds in a 76-58 win over UMES. That was four points shy of her season's high, which came against North Carolina A&T on Jan. 6.

Parks, who transferred to Coppin two years ago from Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College, has attempted 131 shots from beyond the arc, easily the most in the conference. She leads the MEAC by making almost three a game.

K? "She has the green light to shoot any time," Harrison said.

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