The emphasis on academics at times inhibits Dickman's practice schedule. For one practice about 10 days ago, just nine of his 13 players were running drills. One was nursing an ailment on the sideline. The rest were in class.
"This is the strangest situation," Dickman said. "Two guys leave for class at 4:30, and a couple are coming from a class that just ended. That's the hardest thing to get used to."
FOR THE RECORD - In yesterday's Sports section, it was incorrectly reported that Tom Dickman's seven state high school basketball titles at Thomas Johnson were a state record. The state record of 11 titles belongs to Bill Bowers, who coached at Allegany High School from 1927 to 1955.
Of the 13-man Blazers squad, no one is taller than 6 feet 7, and the average height is a mere 6-2. To avoid getting pushed around by players two and three years older, these Blazers prefer to run around.
They press, they force the tempo, they never let up.
"We make you earn every dribble, every pass," Dickman said.
The Blazers gave McDaniel a run for its money in the season opener on Nov. 21, but 15-for-37 free-throw shooting doomed them in an 83-67 loss.
Said freshman Pete Colwell: "We can't play scared because you can't succeed. So we play hard every minute. ... Size-wise, we're overmatched, but overall we match up in strength and we make up the rest in speed."
They may be a bit inexperienced and undersized, but all eyes in these parts are waiting to see if Dickman's bunch can take off. For all of his success, the coach isn't worried.
"I would be the most surprised person on this campus if we can't succeed," he said.