Fresh start for Hickman boys basketball coach and player

Saturday, December 4, 2010 | 6:13 p.m. CST; updated 9:15 p.m. CST, Saturday, December 4, 2010
Hickman head basketball coach David "DJ" Johnson instructs the Kewpies between quarters at the Norm Stewart Classic on Saturday. Johnson, who coached Hickman in the early 1990s, made his second debut coaching the Kewpies. After the game he said he was probably just as nervous as his players for their opening game.

COLUMBIA — Despite having years of experience coaching basketball both at the high school and junior college level, Hickman boys basketball coach David Johnson admitted he was anxious before his team kicked off the season Saturday against Poplar Bluff in the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College.

"I was probably just as nervous as they were for the first game, and I told them that," he said.


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The Kewpies 53-39 win over Poplar Bluff marked the start of the second David Johnson era as the head of Hickman's basketball program. Johnson previously coached the team in the early 1990s before becoming the athletic director of St. Paul's College in Virginia.

During his second debut, Johnson shrugged off his nerves and looked like he never left Hickman. He paced the sideline like it was real estate he had owned for years. When he wanted his team to pick up its defensive intensity after a basket in the fourth quarter, he clapped his hands and shouted, "Defense." After the referee made a call he did not agree with he yelled, "Oh my God!"

Also making his debut for Hickman was freshmen guard Chris Clark. Not only did Clark make his first start, he played more minutes than any Kewpie in the game.

"It feels pretty good," Clark said. "Coach put me in there. He knows what I can do, and I showed him. I just went out there and played."

Clark notched eight points, three assists and one rebound in the win, and his performance pleased Johnson.

"I thought he did a great job of really helping us set the tempo offensively and defensively," Johnson said. "We're going to definitely have to work with him more on his defense, but being a freshmen, I couldn't ask for much better for a first game."

During the game, Johnson tried to improve Clark's defense by taking him aside between free throws after Clark got beat on a play. While doing so, Johnson did not yell but remained calm and patient with his point guard. When Johnson was done, he patted his young player on the rear in encouragement.

"He has a lot of potential as a player," senior guard Marcus Whitt said. "For a freshmen to go out and do what he did today, I think that's very good. He still has some growing to do, but I'm very confident in having him out there on my team."

Along with his skills, Clark also has some physical growing to do. His uniform looks too big and baggy on his lanky 6-foot-1 frame. In fact, a referee asked him to tuck in his shirt when it shook loose during the game.

Johnson said he does not think Clark's lack of size will be an issue.

"I was a little bit worried about him going up against older, stronger kids," Johnson said. "I don't have to worry anymore. I think he has shown he can handle it."

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Walter Lane December 5, 2010 | 9:14 a.m.

Size doesn't really matter. I remember when I played high school ball I was 6'1 and playing post and had to guard guys 6'5", 6'6", 6'7" on a regular basis. When you're smaller, you have to use your quickness and better footwork to your advantage. It's all about outworking and outsmarting your opponent.

(Report Comment)
Gregory Brown December 5, 2010 | 9:29 a.m.

Yes, I've heard many people discount an over-emphasis on size. It's how use use what you have. Men and women agree on this.

(Report Comment)
Gregory Brown December 5, 2010 | 9:36 a.m.

Responding to a suggestion, I'll modify my earlier comment a bit. Make it "Some men and many women agree on this". It's mostly men who believe "bigger is better".

(Report Comment)
Yolanda Griffith December 6, 2010 | 8:48 a.m.

@ Gregory Brown.. Lol

(Report Comment)
Yolanda Griffith December 6, 2010 | 8:50 a.m.

As a 14 year old freshman, Chris will gain weight. He just has to use his quickness to make up the weiight disadvantage. Good job son and we're proud of you.

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