Cherry, HPU focus on future
Scott Cherry keeps looking ahead.
After his High Point University men’s basketball team suffered its fourth straight loss to Division I teams and dropped to 4-4 with the 71-60 setback at Wake Forest on Wednesday night, Cherry was still looking at molding a team that can make a run at a Big South championship.
“We’ve got to get back in the gym and keep learning,” Cherry said. “We’ve lost three tough games on the road but after exams we’ll have a couple at home before the crunch of conference play in January and February. I’ve got a good team. I feel that I have one that can win a conference championship.”
Given the performances of Big South teams so far, the Panthers certainly look as threatening as anyone.
Radford was the only team over .500 and that was at 5-4. HPU and Gardner-Webb (5-5) were the other teams which did not having losing records.
At the bottom end of the spectrum, Presbyterian, UNC Asheville and Liberty each had one win. Coastal Carolina and Longwood each had two.
Radford and G-W lead in wins over Division I teams with three each. Radford beat Kennesaw State, Hampton and Citadel. G-W topped DePaul, Howard and Austin Peay and also lost by one at Illinois.
HPU was next with its wins over UNC Greensboro and Appalachian State, which also fell to Campbell.
But, during the losing streak, the Panthers have fallen victim to poor shooting and turnovers. They shot under 40 percent in losses to William & Mary, Western Michigan and Wake; and they committed 19 turnovers against Western Michigan and 18 against Wake.
“We had a good game plan (against Wake),” Cherry said. “But we can’t turn the ball over 18 times. That was tough to come back from. That’s 18 possessions you don’t get a shot.”
The Panthers do have possibly the best player in the league in freshman John Brown, who turned more than a few heads with his 27-point performance against Wake that included hitting 12 of 27 shots from the field.
“I knew I was quicker than most of them, so I could take advantage of that,” Brown said of facing the Deacons. “And, I can hit the mid-range shot so it was a combination. They worried about me going past them, but when I pull up and shoot it’s kind of hard to guard.”
Not bad for someone who was a little taken aback by playing in an ACC-sized arena for the first time when he stepped onto the Joel Coliseum floor.
“It’s was kind of a reality check,” Brown said. “I thought it was better just watching it on TV but when your are playing in one, it’s a whole ‘nother thing. Your adrenalin is going and your mind is just blown away. The place is so big. I’ve never played in a place this big before. I just tried to do my best.”
His best included a couple of highlight-reel dunks. When it was mentioned that one of them might wind up on ESPN’s top plays, Cherry was more interested in something else.
“A top-10 win, that’s what I’m interested in,” he said.
January is just around the corner. The Panthers don’t have long to get the bugs worked out before the conference games start counting.
Cody Allen, one year removed from pitching for HPU, won the Cleveland Indians’ Bob Feller award as the organization’s top minor league pitcher in 2012.
Taken in the 23rd round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft, Allen pitched at the Class A, AA and AAA levels before being called up to the Indians in July. In the minors last season, he had a 1.87 ERA, 53 strikeouts and nine walks in 43 1/3 innings.
He finished the season as a middle reliever with the Indians. He did not allow a run in his first 12 appearances and finished with a 3.72 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 29 innings over 27 appearances.