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Friday, November 19, 2004

The Skipjacks will get a quick read on whether – and how much – they’ve improved over the first week of the men’s basketball regular season.

Chesapeake College opens its home schedule Friday night at 7 p.m. against Anne Arundel Community College – which is the same team it opened the regular season against last Friday at the Dragon Invitational.

The Skipjacks, who hosted the Pioneers in a preseason scrimmage, will also play at AACC in January. If you throw in potential matchups in the state and regional tournaments, Chesapeake could conceivably play the Pioneers six times.

Chesapeake College head coach Dale Becraft said playing a team so often is a double-edged sword.

"It’s good in that you have a familiarity with what they do, but that works both ways. They have the same advantage," said Becraft. Chesapeake hung a 91-82 loss on Anne Arundel last week and beat the Pioneers in the preseason scrimmage, but Becraft noted last Friday’s game was tied with less than four minutes remaining.

"I think they’re a very dangerous club right now. They’re very scrappy and they shoot well from the perimeter," said Becraft. "If they get it going they can be trouble.

"They beat Howard by 10 points Saturday at Howard," added Becraft. "Coming off a win, they’re going to think they have a chance to win Friday night. We have to establish early that we’re going to be in control." Becraft said his team, which split two games in the Howard tournament, has to show more consistency – especially on defense.

"On Friday against Anne Arundel, we did not play with much emotion or intensity – which was kind of surprising in an opening game," said Becraft. "I thought we played with a lot more emotion and intensity Saturday even though we lost to Globe (89-75)."

Becraft was pleased to see that the Skipjacks could go to many sources for their offense. Six players – Daniel Bell, Hubert King, Ryan Rabon, Josh Hickson, B.J. Miller, and Gordon Bunn – scored in double figures in at least one game last weekend.

"This system lends itself to trying to spread the ball out," said Becraft of his wide-open, fast-break attack.

Bell, who scored a team-high 21 points in each game, could eventually develop into a "go-to" scorer even on such a balanced team.

" I knew when Daniel came in he would be one of our top scorers," said Becraft. "His game is a little different now than what I expected - his history is he’s been a very good outside shooter, but right now he’s getting most of his points inside. When his outside game comes together, he’ll be even more effective for us."

Becraft said if the team can learn to consistently play with a lot of energy and improve its defensive effort, the Skipjacks could be pretty successful this season.

"We’re very athletic but not very big, so we can’t afford to play passive basketball," said Becraft. "We have to be aggressive all the time."

As for the Skipjacks’ defensive woes – the team is yielding 85.5 points per game – Becraft said they are functions of both style and effort.

"A lot of it is our style of play – we’re going to score a lot of points, but we’re going to give up a lot, too – but we do have some concerns in our halfcourt defense," said Becraft. "There are some fundamental breakdowns we’re trying to fix."

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