Basketball not easy, but Hood manages

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Award for Hopkins athlete fell through cracks

November 27, 2008|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

What men's basketball team starts practice at 9 p.m. out of deference to college classes? What team plays its games at a high school because its own gym is the size of a racquetball court?

Hood College, that's who.

Such is life for the Blazers since the private school in Frederick went co-educational six years ago.

Saddled with an undersized gym, Hood (3-2) plays most home games at nearby Thomas Johnson High.

Just practicing on campus can be difficult, Hood coach Tom Dickman said.

"At our place, the walls sit right up against the end lines, and the three-point line is 6 inches from the sideline," Dickman said.

The late practice times are a nod to Hood's academic rigors.

"The kids are OK with [night workouts], but the coaches get crotchety by that time," Dickman said.

Still, Hood has shone. Senior Ryan Junghans led Division III in free-throw percentage last season, hitting on 118 of 123 from the line. Also last season, the Blazers battled McDaniel to triple overtime before losing the championship of the Provident Pride Tournament, the annual showdown of the Division III men's basketball teams in the state.

It's not by choice that Hood isn't participating in that tournament this week. Each year, one of Maryland's nine small colleges must sit out the eight-team tournament, and this time Hood drew honors.

The Blazers shrugged it off. They're used to being odd man out.

Thieving Gators

The College of Notre Dame has basketball opponents playing into its hands - literally. The Gators have forced a whopping 117 turnovers in three games, all victories for the crafty, hard-pressing team from North Baltimore.

Call it grand larceny, coach Rob Long said. In a 100-43 victory over Hollins (Va.), Notre Dame forced 45 turnovers, 28 of them steals. The Gators are a quick and agile bunch intent on rebounding from last season's dreary 6-19 finish.

"We don't press the whole game, but these kids create [opportunities] with their athleticism," Long said.

Against Hollins, a team it defeated by nine points last season, Notre Dame raced to a 35-3 lead. The Gators also thumped Hood and Stevenson, avenging last season's loss to the latter.

The strong start has created a stir on campus. Already, the college president has spent a game sitting on the team bench.

"Are we that good? It's hard to gauge," Long said. "We'll figure it out as the season goes on."

Delay of fame

Three weeks ago, Sean McCreery of Johns Hopkins learned he had been named National Division III Player of the Year in water polo.

His response?

"Thanks for the delay, guys," said McCreery, who graduated in June.

The award was for the 2007 season.

A glitch in the selection process caused a year's delay. McCreery, who also won the honor in 2005 and 2006, had long since given up hope of becoming the award's first three-time recipient.

He was working as an associate accounts manager for a biotech firm in Philadelphia when he learned he had won the college prize.

"It's nice to get the honor, but the suspense was a little annoying," said McCreery, who scored 93 goals as a senior - the second most in Hopkins history.

"I figured that either I didn't win the award, or that it didn't exist anymore, or that it had been retired because I'd won it two years in a row."

McCreery learned of the honor while surfing Hopkins' Web site.

"It massaged my ego a little bit," he said. "Plus, [the award] stands out on one's resume - even though I've already got a job."

Squashed rivalry

At 16-1, Navy's squash team is off to its best start in 60 years. Like their football brethren, the 12th-ranked Midshipmen are itching for a shot at Army. But there's a hitch: West Point dropped squash 20 years ago.

"Dropped? Army surrendered its program," Navy coach Craig Dawson said. "Frankly, it's still a big hole in our schedule because of the importance of Army-Navy competition this time of year."

So, on Dec. 4, Navy will play at the University of Pennsylvania instead.

"It's not the same thing," said Dawson, a 1973 graduate of the academy who helped defeat Army three times in squash. "I know what these guys are missing."

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