Skipjacks ready to hoop it up
Becraft’s young, deep team opens Saturday at Rockville
WYE MILLS, November 2 Dale Becraft has depth, and he’s not afraid to use it.
"We went 15-deep in every scrimmage, and I would imagine we’ll go 12-deep in every game," said Becraft, who starts his second season as Chesapeake College’s head men’s basketball coach with a 7 p.m. game Saturday night at Montgomery College/Rockville. "With the system we’re trying to run, you can’t pace yourself. We’re going to try to push the tempo, extend the floor, and make people run."
Employing that strategy requires not only depth but great guard talent. Becraft has that ingredient, too, in his starting backcourt with a pair of highly touted freshmen. Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Player of the Year Rob Lowery (McDonough High) will run the point and Bayside Conference Player of the Year Will Mills (Pocomoke High) will start at shooting guard.
"Rob is an extremely athletic player. He’s a good three-point shooter who can also beat you off the dribble and take you to the bucket," said Becraft of Lowery. "He’s 6-(foot)-2, and that should create some match-up opportunities for us."
The starting front court features the only returner from last year’s 15-12 team: small forward Keith Smothers, who is a Queen Anne’s County High graduate.
"Keith’s the floor leader. He’s the guy who provides the experience factor," said Becraft.
Jamarl Glen (Largo High) and Chris Brown (Lackey High) round out the starting front court. The 6-5 Glen made the Washington Post All-Met team and the 6-6 Brown was a Washington Post All-Met honorable mention.
"Jamarl has grown three inches since his high school graduation last spring and he’s been our most consistent player in the preseason," said Becraft. "Chris has got really good hands and good instincts in the post. He knows how to play defense in the post. He does things instinctively that you usually have to spend a lot of time teaching."
The second team includes a pair of junior-college transfers red-shirt freshman guard Jimmy Mosser (Frederick Community College) and 6-7 red-shirt sophomore forward Robbie Briscoe (College of Southern Maryland). Brandon Caldwell, a 6-6 forward from Colonel Richardson High, and Mike Nichols, a 26-year-old service veteran who attended North Caroline High, are also in the second unit along with 6-3 freshman forward Jerrel Suber, who played at Forestville High.
Becraft also expects 6-2 freshman swingman Joey Fletcher, who attended Colonel Richardson High, to get a lot of playing time against opposition zones.
"Joey is a tremendous outside threat who can also take you inside," said Becraft. "He can step out on the perimeter and make teams pay for playing a zone."
Two former Skipjacks Wayne Reese and B.J. Miller will assist Becraft, who also has Lynn Smack as his recruiting coordinator. Reese is an assistant coach while Miller, one of the stars of last year’s team, will be a student assistant while he finishes his associate degree this year.
"Lynn did a great job recruiting the Southern Maryland and Prince George’s County area," said Becraft.
The Skipjacks beat both Anne Arundel Community College and Columbia Union in pre-season scrimmages. Becraft expects his team to get a stiff test Saturday night at Rockville.
"They’re a lot like us, with 13 freshmen," said Becraft. "It’s going to be a matter of which freshmen step up. It should be an interesting match-up. Rockville always plays people tough at home, but I’m eager to get it on and see what happens."
Overall, Becraft has been pleased with what he’s seen from his team in the preseason.
"We’ve got shooters, we’ve got size, we’ve got quickness," said Becraft. "We also have a good mix of local players and out-of-county players. Our one weakness has been our inability to play at a consistently high level throughout our scrimmages. That’s a factor of our inexperience."
While Becraft said he feels the team has more talent, size and depth than last year’s squad, it’s hard to predict how the Skipjacks will fare in the rugged Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. Defending conference champion Cecil Community College, 31-3 last year, is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the NJCAA Division II preseason poll and Prince George’s Community College is ranked 17th. Allegany College of Maryland is ranked 22nd in the Division I poll.
"Cecil will still be tough so will Garrett and Allegany," said Becraft. "I don’t anticipate Frederick and PG (Prince George’s) being as tough as last year, but they’ll still be strong. I’ve heard from a lot of people that they think we have as strong a recruiting class as anyone."
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