By Joseph Wetzler, Staff Writer
On paper it may seem that John Brown and Allan Chaney are somewhat of an odd couple. Brown is a 20-year old redshirt freshman from Jacksonville, Fl. and Chaney is a 22-year old graduate student from Baltimore, Md.
On the court, Brown and Chaney have led the Panthers throughout the first half of the season.
Brown is averaging a team-high 18.4 points per game (PPG) to go along with 6.7 rebounds per game (RPG). He ranks second in all of college basketball in scoring among freshmen. Brown’s teammates feed off his high energy and look for him to make plays. He is one of two players in college basketball with at least 25 blocked shots and 36 steals.
“His motor and his energy is non-stop,” said Chaney. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anybody with a motor like his.”
Chaney hadn’t played a game in three years before the season, but has been extremely solid in his first season at HPU. He is averaging 13.3 PPG and 7.6 RPG. He has impressed his new teammates with his drive and intelligence on the court.
“It’s good to have another big body,” Brown said. “He gets me all riled up so I just feed off him. He’s the teacher of team.”
Brown and Chaney have developed excellent chemistry on the court. They met over the summer on Chaney’s first visit to HPU but didn’t step on a court together until August. Both of them believe that just being a ball player and knowing the game well has helped them improve their cohesiveness.
“He [Brown] knows his strengths and I know my strengths, and we work together. We feed off of each other and we have confidence in each other,” said Chaney.
“We know the game. That’s really it. We don’t even have to talk, we just look at each other and go for it,” said Brown of their chemistry.
Both players have learned from one another. Chaney has tried to mimic Brown’s motor and run the floor every time his team is on a fast break. Brown has learned to slow his game down a little and be more patient with the basketball in his hands.
Coach Scott Cherry loves how unselfish Chaney has been this year.
“He wants to do everything he can to help our team win. If it’s scoring, he wants to do that; if it’s rebounding, he wants to do that,” said Coach Cherry. “He’s not afraid to make that extra pass. He’s a guy that just wants to help his team win.”
Aside from Brown and Chaney, there are six other newcomers to this team. Coach Cherry was excited coming into the first day of practice and is happy with the progress of the young players. He didn’t set expectations for this team but is certainly happy with where they are. Coach Cherry would like to have a little bit of a better record thus far, but knows this team will figure out how to win.
The Panthers have lost a number of close games. They lost to Western Michigan by one point, Eastern Kentucky by three points, and Radford by five points. Having six freshmen, two junior college transfers, and one other transfer makes it extremely tough to get wins in close games. This group is inexperienced, untested and still learning how to play Division 1 basketball.
The goal of this team has been the same for the past three years: win the Big South regular season title and the Big South Tournament, which would propel the team into the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Cherry views these as realistic goals. The team will need to grow up fast and put together a string of wins against conference foes.
John Brown and Allan Chaney will have to keep their high level of play in order to keep these goals a reality.