Shooting star aims to be more

College basketball: Coppin State's Fred Warrick makes -- and takes -- a lot of shots, but the senior swingman is hardly one-dimensional.

February 11, 1999|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

For all the things Coppin State senior Fred Warrick does well, shooting is the thing he does most.

The 6-foot-5 swingman averages 21 points, makes nearly four three-point shots a game and attempts many others. Yet, he has a yearning to be known as a jack-of-all-trades, a guy who can succeed in any facet of the game.

"I would describe myself as a player," Warrick said, "someone who will do whatever it takes on both sides of the court."

But the essence of Warrick's play was revealed in the final moments of Coppin's 80-77 overtime loss against South Carolina State last Saturday.

Down 77-74 with less than 30 seconds left, Coppin needed someone to hit a long-range shot and tie the game. Warrick got the ball, then moved toward the middle of the court, where the defining moment came.

With two South Carolina State players in his face, and Jerel Seamon open a few feet to his right, the time was right for a pass.

Warrick shot. And missed.

After making just three shots in 21 attempts -- a lot for anyone without the name Michael Jordan -- over 28 minutes, Warrick later critiqued the quality, not the quantity.

"I just shot bad," he said.

Any thought of passing up a few because they weren't going down?

"I missed a couple of open shots," he said. "There were a lot of open shots, I just didn't knock them down."

Said Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell: "You also have to look at the fact that he's the go-to guy.

"The bottom line was that he was trying to win the game for us. Sometimes you learn that you can't do it all yourself, and Fred will learn that as we progress."

Warrick has been versatile all season.

He has had a 10-rebound game, had seven assists in another and had five steals to go along with 34 points in a game against Iowa. On Monday, he scored 26 points against North Carolina A&T, and also picked up five rebounds and three steals. The win placed the Eagles (10-13, 9-4) in a three-way tie for second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Said Warrick: "I'm happy when I do other things different from scoring, like rebounding or assists and steals. The other things that help your team win games and helps me become a better player."

Yet after two years as a vital yet purely supplemental component of Coppin's success, Warrick's job these days is to lead offensively.

His road to Coppin lacked smooth pavement. A star at Bok Tech High School in South Philadelphia, Warrick wanted to go to La Salle, but didn't qualify academically. La Salle assistant Joe Bryant advised him to go to Essex County (N.J.) College in 1994-95, when he averaged 28.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 49 percent from the field and 45.7 percent from three-point range.

Still, he left after one season when his coach at Essex departed. So, for the next 18 months, returning home to concentrate on his grades at a local community college, Warrick did not play a game of organized basketball.

"It wasn't hard because I was working out every day," said Warrick, who came to Coppin because Bryant had left La Salle to attend to his son, Kobe, now a star guard with the Los Angeles Lakers. "I was keeping in shape so that I would be prepared and be ready. Me being out and coming to Division I, it didn't take long. I just had to get accustomed to knowing the plays."

In his first game, he played 15 minutes. He scored 15 points in each of the next three games after that, establishing himself as a viable scoring option on the team that upset No. 2 seed South Carolina in the 1997 NCAA tournament.

Last season, Warrick wasn't required to carry the scoring load because of the presence of guards Antoine Brockington and Danny Singletary. When they left, the offensive burden became Warrick's alone.

"Last year, I considered myself more of a role player," Warrick said. "I would do whatever it took to get us baskets. This year, I knew I had to work on getting better shots and setting myself up for better shots."

Warrick attempts around 18 shots a game. He sent last Saturday's game into overtime with a three-pointer, and said the only reason he made that last, errant shot was because he had passed with the opportunity to hit the game-winner in regulation.

In two previous outings, Warrick carrying Coppin had been a fine strategy. With the Eagles struggling on Feb. 1 against the down-and-out team of the MEAC, Howard, Warrick had to take over and scored 17 points in the final 7: 28 of the first half on the way to a career-high 40. But a closer examination shows that his shooting hasn't been the gauge for Coppin, which has gone 8-3 since the start of 1999, with one loss in the last nine games.

With the exception of the Howard game and games against Norfolk State and Florida A&M, when he scored 34 and 28 points, respectively, Warrick's shooting has lagged during the Eagles' recent hot streak. For the other eight games, he has shot 30.6 percent from the field.

Overall this season, he has hit 37.5 percent of his field goals, made 69 percent of his free throws, 40.2 percent of his three-pointers and averaged 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.6 assists.

Since early in the season, when Warrick carried most of the load, others have emerged. Senior center Dorian Pena has averaged 15.5 points over the last five games, and guard and junior-college transfer Jorge Cajigas has averaged 15.3 points since the start of the year.

"It's good to play with Fred, because when he's open, he's open," Cajigas said. "But when he doesn't get open, then we get our open shots."

Pub Date: 2/11/99

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