Story by Phil Marshall
After coming off a 11-14 record last season, the Hagerstown Community College Men's Basketball team is looking to improve under fourth year Head Coach Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins played for HCC from 1992-1994 achieving a 2nd Team All American selection before playing two years at Virginia Commonwealth University. He then took his career to the NBA's D league for one year in 1997 before starting a 15 year career overseas in Spain. His commitment to excellence and love for the game is something he hopes to establish with this year's squad.
"Playing basketball is a commitment," he said. "Just like with anything in life, you have to commit everything you have in order to be successful in this game."
Coach Hopkins emphasized that the Hawks couldn't close games last season and thinks their record can be better if this is achieved this year.
"This is a 40 minute game and you have to play at least 36-37 solid minutes to pull out wins," he said. "A lot of these players have to adjust to college basketball as opposed to high school because there is more responsibility."
Hopkins is excited for the 2019-2020 season because of some key additions to the roster.
"I like the work ethic of this freshman class," he said. "They are very coachable and have a lot of speed and size."
Work ethic is always important, but especially in basketball where there are long practices as well as school work commitments.
"I'd say the toughest transition for these athletes is balancing basketball life and school life," he said. "The freshman aren't used to practicing 2.5 hours a day and doing homework."
The Hawks are looking to overcome all obstacles to be successful this year and improve on lessons learned from last year.
"I think we can win the region this year and our biggest goal is to go to the National Tournament," he said. "My biggest goal for my players is that they succeed here so they can transfer to four year schools and continue their careers.
To be successful at that, Hopkins knows that he will have to get his team in a mindset of reality based on their past experiences.
"In their minds they think they are going to win every game," he said. "They will be humbled to find out how much harder the competition will get but they are looking forward to the challenge."
The Hawks will open their season at home against Chesapeake College on Wednesday November 6 at 8:00PM.