Former Bobcat guard leads Saints basketball
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
It would be an understatement to say former Buchholz standout Blake Hyden will be playing with a chip on his shoulder this season.
Santa Fe's new point guard, who redshirted last season with the Saints, is ready to turn some heads, but not before ridding his own head of a bad memory.
"The one that still haunts me is when we lost in the regional semifinals at home against Orlando Evans," Hyden said. "I fouled out with three seconds left. It went into overtime, and I had to watch the last five minutes of my senior season."
Now Santa Fe opens up its season tonight, and the 5-foot-8, 160-pound sophomore is a changed player.
"I'm a totally different player than I was in high school," Hyden said. "I wasn't able to play to my potential at Buchholz, because I was molded into more of a true point guard."
Anything that tied him down there will be loosened under fifth-year Santa Fe head coach Chris Mowry.
"He likes to let players use their abilities and do what they do," Hyden said. "I just didn't look to score in high school."
Blake had the benefit of watching two Division I point guards, Tracy Rankins (Savannah State) and Josh Edwards (Georgia Southern), thrive in Mowry's up-tempo brand of basketball. The coach expects Hyden to do the same.
"Blake's a really fast, really quick kid," said Mowry, who won the Mid-Florida Conference Coach of the Year award for the second time last season. "He's definitely going to be a guy that's going to push the ball for us."
Redshirting last season helped Hyden get a head start on learning the system he feels he'll flourish in.
"That's pretty much all we did last season," he said. "Drive, kick, and driving, pulling up. That's my style."
Mowry coached last season's Saints to the MFC title with a 14-1 record, the most conference wins in program history.
He'll start from scratch this season, however, as he faces JUCO's yearly challenge of getting fresh faces on the same page. Francis Aihe and Milutin Marjanovic - two 6-foot-9 centers - are the only two players returning, and they will make up the frontcourt.
"We're very young this year," Mowry said. "Only our two post players have played in a college basketball game. This is one of those years where I wish we had two or three weeks to practice, but we don't."
Mowry believes the two other guards that redshirted with Hyden last season will help that lack of experience. Roderick Emanuel, who played on that Orlando Evans team that eliminated Hyden's Bobcats, and Zach Trapp will make up a deep backcourt.
Depth and a balanced scoring attack are two things Mowry has emphasized in his time at Santa Fe. As the team's new floor general, Hyden feels any of his teammates are capable of leading the team in scoring.
"It's not going to be a one-man show," Hyden said. "We have so many unselfish players. Anybody can have 20 for us on a given night."
The Saints open the season by hosting the SFCC Tip-Off Classic in the Santa Fe Gymnasium. Tonight the team takes on USC-Salkehatchie at 8 p.m., and Friday they'll face Broward CC at 4 p.m.
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