Indications are Truax will return as BayRunners coach

Pro Basketball

May 10, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Days after his team's season-finale loss to Trenton on April30, BayRunners coach Terry Truax was in his office on the third floor of Baltimore Arena, preparing for next season.

Apparently, he will be the man leading the BayRunners.

Truax, who started the season as an assistant coach before replacing Herb Brown midway through, seems confident he will return, though the team suffered through a 22-game losing streak under him.

In his defense, Truax kept Brown's roster in place, and ended up having the same problems, mostly on the defensive end, that Brown had experienced.

"I inherited some players that if I could have made a decision not to have them, I would have done that," Truax said. "Unfortunately, it was too late to do that."

Truax's return will be the decision of owner Cal Ripken, who obtained the remaining 90 percent of the BayRunners on April12. He had previously owned 10 percent before acquiring the rest from the International Basketball League.

Ripken said he wants to focus solely on baseball for now, but he has stated in the past that he wants a strong Baltimore presence on the team. Truax, who coached Towson for 14 seasons, falls into that category, although BayRunners president Greg Smith did say the team would look at other options in the next few weeks.

"Terry definitely wants to come back. I think we want him back. Every indication I've gotten is that he's someone we want back in some capacity," Smith said.

Overall, the BayRunners went 7-27 with Truax as coach, and finished with a 17-47 record, worst in the league. If he stays, Truax said there is one thing he can immediately do to turn things around -- bring in his own players.

"I just really felt like the overall attitude of our team was not conducive to having a championship team," Truax said.

"We're losing, and there are guys on the bench laughing. As a coach, when you inherit some players during the timing that I did, you have little control over that. But when you start on Day1 of training camp, you can say this is exactly what this is going to be."

Whoever the coach is, the team also may find itself in a new home.

The BayRunners are looking at other facilities, including possibly the Towson Center, to play the season. Still, Smith said returning to Baltimore Arena is the No.1 choice, even if it means sharing the place with the Blast again as it did last season.

Wherever they play, it is a good chance that the makeup of the team will be different. Truax talked of changing the roster, although he said he was happy with the play of Baltimore natives Rodney Elliott, Shawnta Rogers and Kurk Lee. Unless something better arises for any of those players, Truax wants to bring all three back next season.

NOTES: The IBL named St. Louis Swarm coach Bernie Bickerstaff as its Coach of the Year. St. Louis finished with the league's best record (47-17). Bickerstaff, who had coaching stints in the NBA with Washington, Seattle and Denver, also won the Coach of the Month award for February. ... Swarm guard Danny Johnson won the IBL's Rookie of the Year Award, averaging 20.7 points a game.

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