Chesapeake College men’s basketball coach Allen Mitchell has stressed over and over to his team the importance of being consistent.
Mitchell has even as gone as far as to adopt the one-word motto “finish” to get the best out of his Skipjacks.
“It’s been the same all year,” Mitchell explained. “Play for 40 minutes and finish. I’m staying with my motto. If we do those things, we will come out on top. In some games, we play for 40 minutes, but in other games, we let things get away.”
How often has the team played a strong enough game from start to finish?
“In all the wins,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “Let’s put it that way.”
Chesapeake has won six games, thanks to high-scoring sophomore guards Anthony Tate and Jordan Alston.
That may not seem like many victories with a schedule of more than 20 contests, but Chesapeake’s number looks pretty good when compared to the Skipjacks' 1-21 campaign last season.
And now, with the regular season winding down, Mitchell is looking for his team to finish with a flourish and improve on its win total.
The Skipjacks are excited about the four-game home stand that starts with Potomac State on Jan. 31.
Chesapeake will also play Hagerstown Community College (Feb 2), Navy JV (Feb. 5) and Montgomery College (Feb 7) in Wye Mills.
“We have a wonderful opportunity here,” said Mitchell, whose team has had one three-game winning streak and two four-game losing streaks this winter. “You have an advantage on your home court. We are coming down to a critical part of the season, and if we can win some games, it will help us going into the tournament.”
Mitchell, in his third year as head coach after serving as an assistant for five seasons, will continue to rely heavily on Tate, a transfer from Morgan State.
Tate is averaging a team-high 17.8 points, 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.
He directs the team well, breaks down opposing defenses and can be an explosive scorer.
Tate totaled 31 points and nine assists in a 98-91 win over the College of Southern Maryland and finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to Alleghany.
“He could be the Maryland JUCO Player of the Year,” Mitchell said. “He has played that well. He takes over games for me and he has become a stronger leader lately. He has the swagger that says 'I am the best guard out here. ' ”
Alston, 6-foot-5, shooting guard, is averaging 14.9 points and can be automatic on 3-pointers.
“He is a versatile player for us and his shooting can open things up for other guys,” Chesapeake assistant men’s basketball coach Artron Strowbridge said.
Strowbridge says brothers Thomas Agnew, a freshman guard, and Terehk Agnew, a freshman power forward, also brings a lot of energy to the team.
Chesapeake is also getting significant contributions from freshman guard Nate Avery, who has worked as a starter and been the team’s six man.
Chesapeake’s regular season ends on Feb. 10 and the Maryland JUCO tournament begins six days later in Largo.
“We have shown flashes of being a really, really good team,” Mitchell said. “Then we show flashes of guys being slow. We are dealing with a new group this year. We only had one returnee from last year in (sophomore center) Sadiki Isaac. The kids had to get to know each other and get the feel of each other. Once they learn to finish, the better results will come.”