By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE March 27, 2001 While Will Brown, third year coach of the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) mens basketball team isnt making a secret of the fact that hes looking around at other possible coaching jobs, he doesnt have his bags packed. Not yet anyway.
Since taking over late in the recruiting season three years ago in the wake of a scandal surrounding the previous SCCC athletic department, Brown has led the Generals to a 90-10 overall record, a couple Region XV championships and two trips to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III nationals at SUNY Delhi.
This year, the Generals had a 28-4 record, but in Browns mind, it was really a 30-2 season.
According to the Generals helmsman, Sullivan had to forfeit two games when the athletic department belatedly discovered that Brian Evans had put in some minutes on the floor while he was an ineligible player. Evans was certified eligible by SCCC athletic director Jack Mager and administrator Wendy Grossman.
Evans had over a 2.0 (grade point average), but there were problems with an accumulation of credits, recalled Brown.
Im not allowed to certify eligibility, but I might have caught it if Id looked a little closer, he added.
In winning the Region XV title, the Generals earned a reputation as the Comeback Kids, coming from behind three games in a row in three days.
In the NJCAA championship, they repeated their come-from-behind performance twice, but were outgunned and outhustled 78-55 in the final game.
Last Thursday afternoon, Brown corralled his horses for the last coachs meeting of the 2000-2001 hoops season.
In offering a thumbnail sketch of their loss to Cedar Valley at the nationals, Brown said, We picked a bad night to fall apart, but it happens.
Brown told his team they had a great year, losing only two games during the regular season to the number one and number three ranked teams in the country.
According to Brown, one thing he noticed about the Suns of Cedar Valley (TX) was they were in great physical shape, so he advised his returning players to hit the weight room real hard, if they want to make the team next year.
Brown said that while he feels a sense of loyalty to returning players, hes not a guy to play favorites.
If youre going to return, thats wonderful, he told the players. If not whether you werent happy with the situation, as far as school or playing time, or if you hate my guts or coach DePews guts so be it. I wish you well, and Ill help you find another school.
Brown said he doesnt want an army next season, calling a team comprised of 17 players a pain in the a--. Brown said he plans to max out at 12-13 players for the 2001-2002 season. If hes still around, that is.
Im recruiting the best players I can find to win the nationals next year, he added. The bottom line is that weve got to get better and stronger.
The Monday after the Generals devastating loss at the Division III finals, Brown was back in the office, sending out 15 recruitment packages to potential hoopsters.
Ive got players calling me, and thats nice, he said. Im loyal to a point, but Ive got to be selfish and put five guys on the floor that are going to give us our best performance. It could be five new players. Im selfish, I like to win.
In whats sure to send area sportswriters scurrying around in search of old stories, Brown said he has a local frontcourt player a guys whos been off the court for a while up my sleeve.
Brown credited the efforts of diehard manager Sam Etter, a Liberty student who has kept the scorebooks for the Generals since he was 10 years old. Next year, its off to college for Etter.
A few minutes later, the final coachs meeting of the season ended with the Generals lining up to sign a couple of game balls for two young fans.
Brown Goes One on One
As far as Im concerned, Im the coach here at Sullivan County Community College, said Brown. But Im not so sure this is the place my wife and I want to settle down in to raise a family.
As decision time nears for Brown to sign his next one-year contract with Sullivan, hes putting out mixed messages: he likes SCCC and would consider staying if his situation improves, but hes ready to go if the right offer comes his way.
Im either going to be here, or most likely try to make a move up to the highest level at Division I, he said. I want an opportunity to get my foot in the door in one of the top-100 programs in the country.
Brown said that if he pulls the plug at SCCC, hed like to take over as head coach at a top-20 Division II school, or use his contacts to land an assistants slot at a Division I college.
With the people I know at the Division I level, Im looking to get an opportunity at the highest level as an assistant
or for a position at the top of Division II, he said.
According to Brown, hes never had a raise since taking over as head coach of the SCCC mens basketball team three years ago. He said hes paid about $35,000 annually, plus $1,200 to $1,500 for teaching two to three courses each semester. In addition, Brown is paid a grand a week for coaching summer hoops camp.
They take decent care of me, said Brown. Its not so much about money as a better opportunity. If something was offered here to make it a better situation, Id listen.
Im looking for an opportunity to get a job at a very good school, [one] that has all the resources to be successful, added Brown.
Basketball-wise, its getting tougher and tougher because we dont have dorms or scholarships, he said, noting these factors have turned off some potential recruits.
Brown said he pushes his kids to do well in the classroom as well as running them up and down the floor.
We force our kids to go to class and get it done academically, he said. One day theyre going to bounce the ball and its not going to come back up. Theyve got to have something to fall back on.
Only Brown knows for sure where hell be next year.
Sullivan has been good to me, and I think Ive been good for Sullivan, said Brown.
The Starting Five
Shiron Brown (guard): added to the line-up mid-semester. Probably our most talented overall player...very gifted offensively with an extreme desire to win. I think the skys the limit for him.
Curtis Henry (forward/center): has received offers from several Division II schools, but wants to play Division I ball, so he may sit out next year in order to finish up his degree (if he gets enough credits, Henry could qualify for a Division I scholarship) and see if he gets any calls from the top division. Curtis had a good year for us, but if he sits out the year nobodys going to see him. I think hes rolling the dice.
Kris Ibezim (center): second year player; selected for the NJCAA national tourney all-star team; the squads strongest player. It was easier for him last year because he had David Bonner next to him. Everybody double teamed David, so all Kris had to do was catch passes and make dunks and layups. This year, he was more of a focus
he put a lot of pressure on himself and struggled at times. He has some Division I schools sniffing around (reportedly including Fairleigh Dickinson and Quinnipiac) and a ton of Division II programs that are dying to get him.
Earv Opong (guard): second year player; first team All-Region XV; first team Mid-Hudson Conference; has accepted a scholarship at SUNY Albany, a Division I institution. He came here with a big reputation on the playgrounds [in the city]. Has really grown as a point guard, as a leader and a player. He was Mr. Excitement on the floor and a real fan favorite. Earv has a bright future.
Dereck Rankin (guard): All-Region first team, runner-up for Region XV Player of the Year, named Mid-Hudson Conference Player of the Year, is considering several Division II offers. Dereck is probably the kid whos been the most pleasurable to coach. In his first year, he has shown a tremendous work ethic, commitment and desire to be the best he can be
leaves nothing on the floor
always gives 110-percent.
Other Bright Spots
Monticello High School grad Justin Dawson was tabbed Region XV championship tourney MVP. The 6-foot 7 swingman has several Division II offers on the table.
Center Ty Brunson has accepted a free ride at SUNY Albany.
Reserve guard Derrell Keys is being heavily recruited by a couple of Division II schools: Mercyhurst and Dominican.
On Friday night, several Generals will be inducted into the National Honor Society (NHS) for maintaining a grade point average of better than 3.5: Laverne Goulbourne, Derrell Keys and Dereck Rankin. Ernest Darcey also made the NHS list, but quit the team four days before the regional tourney, reportedly due to a lack of playing time.
Also expected to get a 2-year degree from SCCC: Ty Brunson, Kris Ibezim and Earv Opong.
Justin Dawson and Curtis Henry earned 48 transferable credits as they maintained a GPA of better than 2.0.
On March 20, the Town of Thompson adopted a resolution that recognized the leadership of the Generals coach and the efforts of the players: The town board extends its congratulations to the Sullivan County Community College Generals [mens] basketball team on qualifying for its fifth Division III NJCAA national championship.
On March 22, Brown received a Certificate of Special Recognition from the Town of Thompson: Congratulations on your impressive leadership in bringing us the #2 team in the nation
you made our community PROUD!