Welch passing along team concept at Coppin Senior helps keep Mott, Eagles soaring

State college preview

November 25, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The next time Coppin State's Terquin Mott rises above a crowd of defenders to grab the ball and throw down one of his rim-shaking dunks, check to see who was on the other end of the pass.

Chances are, it will be senior Reggie Welch. And chances are he could have done the scoring himself.

"Reggie's the type who, if it's good for the team, it's good for him. He doesn't really care," said Mott, last year's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

"If he has a shot and I have a shot, he'll give it to me. He'll throw an alley-oop before he'll take a jumper, just to get the team into the game and get the flow going."

Not that Welch, who has played guard and forward at Coppin, is uncomfortable being the finisher. He averaged almost 17 points last season and joined Mott (19.0 ppg) on the all-league first team. But he takes great pleasure in performing the other chores and seeing how the Eagles take flight because of it.

"I take advantage of playing with a guy like that," said Welch, who also averaged 6.7 rebounds and was second in assists at 2.4. "It's like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. Michael is the man, but Scottie is so valuable. I think that's what it is at Coppin.

"We talk about it all the time. I say, 'Terq, you are the go-to man, and I'm going to find you and get you the ball.' We've never had any type of altercation or anything like that."

Welch, 6 feet 6 and 220 pounds, will be too busy mixing it up with bigger opponents.

"Reggie has to be the power forward this season," said coach Fang Mitchell, whose tallest player is 6-9 freshman Joe Allen. "At 6-6 in major college basketball, that just doesn't make it. But you can get a lot of things done with determination."

"Reggie can score in the box as well as go outside and hit the three-pointer," said Mitchell, whose team lost to South Carolina State in last year's MEAC tournament final. "He's such a strong, aggressive player. He can create his own shot, and he has such a quick release. And he's an unselfish player. He's one of our leaders."

Welch not only understands the situation this season, but said he also readily accepts it.

"Because of the lack of height we have, [Mitchell is] going to put the best five out there," Welch said. "Each night I go out there, I know I'm at a disadvantage. But I don't fear the position. I look at it as a challenge. It's just a matter of motivation.

"I try to watch guys like Dennis Rodman, Larry Johnson and Charles Barkley, who are smaller but are so dominant because of their determination and heart."

Welch never had to make this kind of adjustment at Cleveland State, where he played for two seasons before transferring to Coppin. There, he was part of a lineup that included a 7-foot center and forwards in the 6-10, 6-9 range.

"Coming to Coppin State, it was like, 'OK, we know you can play guard. We want you to play the wing. We want you to dribble the ball. But we need you down low, too,' " he said.

"I look at myself as not being one-dimensional. Nobody on our team is one-dimensional. A lot of people see us as being small on paper, but they know what we've done and they fear us because of our intensity.

"Coach Fang, he's always teaching us, telling us that we're better than what we think we are. With that motivation, we don't look at size or anything as being a disadvantage. We look at us as being a dominant team that people do not want to play."

Welch found that he no longer wanted to play at Cleveland State. where he averaged 11.1 points during the 1993-94 season, his last with the Vikings.

"We had a lot of personal problems," he said. "We had a beautiful Convocation Center that seated 13,000, but, night in and night out, we would get 4,000 people in there. That's a lot of empty seats.

"I think the city of Cleveland just didn't appreciate us. We didn't get the type of media coverage and fan support that we should have. I was basically thirsting for that."

He would quench that thirst at Coppin, which landed Mott at about the same time as a transfer from La Salle.

The two were familiar with each other because of the proximity of their hometowns -- Welch grew up in Camden, N.J., Mott in Philadelphia -- and welcomed the chance to join forces.

Now, they're so close they call themselves "The Juice Crew," a play on their last names.

"I used to pick up the paper and see Terquin Mott at Glen Mills High School, and say, 'Man, he's killing. I'd love to go to school with a big guy like that,' " Welch said. "We actually were going to go to La Salle together, but I wanted to get away from the Delaware Valley and he stayed at home. But God works in mysterious ways, and he wanted us at Coppin together.

"When they recruited me from Cleveland State, they said, 'Well, we're in the midst of getting Terquin Mott here,' and I looked at that as an opportunity. And they told Terquin the same thing. It just jelled."

It almost ended when Mott declared for the NBA draft in May before deciding to return.

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