Previous boys basketball teams at T.C. Williams have had better records at this point of the season than the 10-4 mark the Titans took into this week's games. But few can argue that, this year, Mike Hynson may be doing his best job of coaching ever.
The Titans, because of various problems, have been dressing only eight players lately. In addition, point guard Glenn Williams, averaging 14.5 points, has played inconsistently much of the season. Still, in the past two weeks, Williams has upset two of the Northern Region's better teams: Robinson, 47-46, and Hayfield, 68-62 in overtime.
The Titans always have been known for their running-pressing style under Hynson. Six games ago, he decided to eliminate much of the pressing, which was hurting the team more than helping. The result has been five victories.
"With so few players, it has not been easy in games, or trying to practice," said Hynson, who led Williams to a 21-5 record last year. "We needed some stability, so we stopped pressing. We are still running up and down the court, but now teams are not putting the ball in the basket so easily against us."
Among the problems that have left the Titans short-handed are a foot injury to Romulus Dozier, Walter Coleman's academic troubles that left him ineligible, and the decisions of football players Shawn and Rodney McNeil to not stick with basketball.
Hynson hopes Dozier and Coleman will rejoin the team soon and at least give the Titans 10 players so they can scrimmage five-on-five at practice.
The problems, however, may work out in the long run. Kevin Boston and Shelby Rose have responded favorably to the burden to provide more points and rebounds. By playoff time, the Titans could be the team to watch.
"We don't have many people playing right now," said Hynson, "but we sure have the right ones out there."
The person trying to keep back photographers at several events during Saturday's Northern Region track and field championships at George Mason University will be Falls Church track Coach Major Wells.
It has become a ritual for Wells to keep cameras at a distance for his multi-event star Carmen Mann, a 5-foot-5 1/2, 110-pound junior who is easily distracted by the clicks and flashes.
Even cameras did not bother Mann two weeks ago at George Mason as she won five events in the Great Falls district meet for the second straight year.
The defending state high jump champion matched her state record of 5-8 to win that event. She went on to take the long jump (18-5 1/2), the 55-meter hurdles (8.5 seconds), the 300-meter run (41.2) and the 500-meter run (1:17).
She is likely to participate in only the high jump, long jump and hurdles Saturday.
"She is the best all-around female athlete I have ever coached," said Wells. "Nothing phases her, except the clicking of a camera. I tell her, 'You are now a figure that is going to attract attention,' but when people are around with cameras, I have to try and keep them back. The noise and flashes will bother anybody, but she is especially sensitive to them."
Wells said he once even had to tell Mann's father to stand at a distance.
"I told him if he wanted his daughter to win, he was going have to stay away with that camera," Wells said.
Good to see in the past couple of weeks is the return to form of W.T. Woodson senior guard Jim Bartelloni.
The Cavaliers' floor leader was suddenly leveled by an intestinal problem in early January. When it first hit him, Bartelloni was in so much pain he passed out, falling on his face and opening a cut that required several stitches.
In the seven games before the illness, Bartelloni averaged 15.6 points. After missing two games, he has averaged 13.5 over the last six.
Friday, in a 72-71 loss at Robinson, Bartelloni looked like his confident self as Woodson's chief outside threat and the key to its fullcourt defensive pressure. He finished with 15 points for the 12-4 Cavaliers.
"It was a one-time thing," he said of the stomach problem. "I missed two games, and I didn't really feel right in the first couple after I came back. Now I feel fine."