Hawks still searching

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2006

MURFREESBORO – The Chowan Hawks are a team with abundant talent.

The squad is working hard and still learning to play as a team, but have struggled through five losses in the opening eight contests of the season.

The squad, which has three returning starters from last season, has an abundance of freshman talent and is still working to find itself.

“Our problem right now is more of a team thing,” fifth-year coach Jim Tribbett said. “We’re a team trying to define our identity.”

Thursday night the Hawks suffered a 64-61 setback at home to UNC-Pembroke, their third loss at home this season. While concerned with his team struggling at the Helms Center, Tribbett knows what his team needs to do to get back on track.

“Number one, we have to get back to playing a scoring defense,” he said Friday. “Last night we didn’t have any fast-break points. We were held to 61 points. Really, we held ourselves to 61 points.

“They controlled the tempo,” he added. “We need to set the temp at a quickened pace. We need to get steals, get deflections and get some three-on-twos where we can use our athleticism.”

The Hawks have already pulled a huge upset on the road, knocking off national power Barton College in Wilson before finals began this week.

While the team slate has those impressive wins, they’re still trying to get going as a group.

One of the keys to getting started, according to the coach, is having his senior class step up.

“We need more energy from our senior class,” he said. “Leadership is critical. When you’re coming off a tough loss like last night, leadership is what you need.

“We’ve talked about those things,” he said. “We’re moving forward.”

Another important step for the Hawks will be playing their own game instead of being led into the pace of other teams as they were Thursday night.

“We shot 31 threes last night,” the coach said. “That number is more than the other seven games combined. That’s not our thing. We’re not a three-point shooting team.

“We’re an attacking team,” he added. “We’re slashers, driving and getting to the glass. We have some people that can shoot the three, but that’s not our game.”

One strong point thus far has been the play of freshman forward Deon Tynes. He is one of the team leaders in the in minutes played, rebounds, field goals and games.

“Deon Tynes is giving us outstanding numbers and energy,” Tribbett said.

The Hawks need someone on the perimeter to match that performance, but haven’t had someone shooting as well as they had hoped early on.

“We need someone to get a hot hand on the perimeter,” Tribbett said. “We have the ability, we just need someone to step up.”

As he looks to today’s game with Belmont Abbey, the coach said the squad entering the contest will be “big, strong and physical.”

The teams have one common opponent n Concord College, who lost to both Belmont Abbey and Chowan.

“They’re game-ready,” Tribbett said. “They’re Division II ready.”

While they are a good Division II team, Belmont Abbey has lost four in a row and has been off since December 2, both things which should play in favor of the Hawks.

“We played last night. We’re playing at home,” Tribbett said. “That should help us.

“By the same token, they haven’t played since December second, so I’m sure they have worked hard the last two weeks to get better,” he added.

The Hawks are hoping to turn their recent problems at home around by getting the victory at the Helms Center at 3 p.m. today.

“Our guys need to play with pride and spirit,” Tribbett said. “We need to energize ourselves and not count on the crowd.

“What I’m looking for is to step up our intensity and play more alert,” he added. “We need to get focused.”