Athletics News

Men's Basketball

Taking on all comers
So far, unbeaten ’Jacks meeting challenge of upgraded schedule

Chesapeake College’s men’s basketball team will play anyone, anywhere and – at least through six games – come home with a win every time.

The Skipjacks have played teams from five states, participated in two tournaments, and traveled as much as seven hours each way to play. Their record includes a 3-0 mark on neutral courts, 2-0 on the road, and 1-0 at home. And all of this winning has come during a season when head coach John Mappas upgraded the Skipjacks’ non-conference schedule.

"We had a pretty good recruiting year, so we felt this was the season for upgrading our competition," said Mappas, whose Skipjacks will try to move to 7-0 in Monday’s 7 p.m contest at Anne Arundel Community College (0-2).

Mappas said the decision to play in back-to-back tournaments – including the high-powered Coca-Cola Classic at Louisburg (N.C.) College – was based upon his experiences with last year’s team.

"Last year’s team was not close, and there was a lot of tension," said Mappas, whose 2006-2007 Skipjacks nevertheless reached the Region XX title game. "I thought taking an early trip where we would all be together for three days might make us a little closer.

"I think this team is closer than last year’s team – there’s a lot less tension," added Mappas. "There’s always going to be some tension at the JuCo level. You’re taking kids from so many different areas – kids who are used to having the ball in their hands at the end of the game – and trying to get them to accept certain roles. So there’s going to be tension, but I do think this year’s team is closer."

Of course, winning also brings teams closer – and the Skipjacks are off to the program’s best start in more than 30 years. Chesapeake is averaging nearly 88 points per game, and beating its competition by an average of almost 18 points per contest. Only two games – an 81-80 win over Louisburg and last Tuesday’s 82-75 victory over Del Tech/Stanton – have been decided by less than 11 points.

One of the keys to the Skipjacks’ fast start has been a balance scoring attack. Four players are averaging double figures, led by sophomore transfer Andrew Lee’s 18.7 points per game and sophomore Davon Heath’s 17.7 points per contest. Freshman Ty Newman, who lit up the North Bayside last year for Easton High, is averaging 12.7 points per game while freshman point guard Aubin Reeves is contributing 12.5 points per contest.

The 6-foot-6 Lee, who transferred in from Division I Morgan State University, is contributing more than points and rebounds, according to Mappas.

"Andrew is a very good leader," said Mappas. "It’s good when one of your best players leads because others will follow. Your 10th man could be a very good leader, but that’s not going to be very helpful. Andrew is unselfish and has a feel for the game. He understands how to play and others will follow his example."

Heath’s frenetic style of play has also been a spark for the Skipjacks.

"Davon plays with a great deal of passion on the offensive end," said Mappas. "And his style of play – he plays hard and at about 300 miles per hour – picks up the other kids."

While Mappas said Reeves needs to improve at clock and score management, he is already drawing comparisons to all-American point guard Cyril Djoukeng, who led Mappas’ Skipjacks to a 41-19 record between 2002 and 2004.

"If the offense breaks down, Aubin knows how to create, which is a great skill," said Mappas. "He and Preston (Faulk) do a great job of getting the ball inside to Andrew when he’s open in the paint."

Mappas said Faulk, the sophomore guard who’s coming back from a slew of injuries incurred at the end of his freshman season, is much more important to the Skipjacks than the eight points-per-game he is averaging this season.

"He’s not afraid to take the big shot," said Mappas.

Faulk may have turned around the game against Prince George’s Community College, hitting a three-pointer after the Owls had used an impressive run to open up a nine-point lead. He also stopped Del Tech/Stanton’s momentum last Tuesday night after Tech had cut a 14-point deficit to a single point, hitting two free throws that stabilized the Skipjacks.

Newman, meanwhile, is starting to earn praise from Mappas with improved defense to go along with his acknowledged offensive abilities.

"Ty has tremendous potential and he’s made some strides on the defensive end," said Mappas. "He’s a surprisingly good passer – he’ll penetrate and make a good pass inside. We need him to continue his improvement on the defensive end, but there’s no question he can score and pass."

Mappas said Barry Bratten, despite limited minutes, has also been a key to the Skipjacks’ quick start.

"We’ve gotten some good mileage out of Barry Bratten. He’s done a nice job for us inside in limited minutes," said Mappas, adding, "His minutes will increase as the year goes on."

Sophomore Terrance Wright and freshman John Dawson (North Caroline High) have also played well in key stretches, which could be important as the Skipjacks head into the meat of their conference schedule.

After playing at Anne Arundel Monday night, the Skipjacks return home for a 7 p.m. contest against Baltimore City Community College (2-2) Wednesday night.

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