Second-year Coach Wil Jones is extremely excited about this very talented team. He has visions of scaling the heights of Division II with one of the best college basketball threesomes anywhere.
Those who appreciate college basketball are drooling, too, because Earl Jones, the freshman 6-foot-10 three-time high-school all-American, perfectly complements two superb returning players, Mike Britt and Hawkeye Daniels, former Cardozo all-Met.
However, the usually loquacious Jones suddenly is at a loss for words when discussion of his schedule comes up.
"Yes, I'm mad about our schedule because we play 18 games on the road," Jones said. "That's tough on any team. But our team looks like it's going to represent itself well and, if we play like we've practiced, we'll be very tough."
Any team that has Jones at center is going to be tough. The unselfish freshman, who considered turning professional last June, can shoot with either hand, handle the ball, rebound, pass and play defense. What he does best is run and that ability is necessary on Jones' lightning squad.
"With Britt, Daniels, Jones, (Greg) Carson and (Reece) Morgan, we have a lot of quickness," Jones said. "But we aren't just a run-and-shoot team. We can stop and set it up. What we will do is score every time we come downcourt."
Scoring shouldn't be any problem for the Firebirds. Jones easily should average double figures from the pivot. Sophomore Britt, a 6-7 magician who averaged 20 points a game, with one 51-point effort, before he was declared ineligible the second half of last season, and 5-11 sophomore point guard Daniels, a jump-shot artist with an 18-point average, can score from anywhere. d
Carson (10.4) will be the wing guard. The 6-3 sophomore will move to small forward and Daniels to shooting guard when 6-foot freshman Morgan comes in to run the team. Senior Steve Smith, a 6-6 leaper who averaged 15.1 points and 12.5 rebounds last season, will be the other forward.
Smith, Daniels, Carson and Britt are the only players returning from last year's 16-11 team. Jones had a good recruiting year and is loaded with tall freshmen.Three of them, 6-8 Cedric Caldwell, 6-8 Curtis Brown and 6-6 James Neal, are good rebounders and, according to Jones, will see plenty of playing time.
Strengths: With Jones, Smith, Britt and the other backup big people, should be very strong inside; quickness, good ball handlers and outside shooting.
Weaknesses: Playing 18 games road games; inexperience, particularly early in the season.
Assessment: The starters will be able to play with anyone on the schedule. If the reserves come through UDC could be a very fine team, and could challenge at season's end for the Division II national championship.