Hawks back on court after layoff

Earl Diddle’s voice was hoarse after all the screaming he did in each of the five practices the Hawks have had the last three days. The Howard College women’s basketball coach said the Hawks have been working hard, evidenced from Diddle’s hoarse voice. But it’s probably warranted considering the 27 days in between games for the Hawks.The drought ends against South Mountain Community College at 2 p.m. Saturday in Phoenix. It’s the first of three games in Phoenix. Matchups against Phoenix College at 2 p.m. Sunday and Glenndale Community College at 1 p.m. Monday follow the South Mountain CC game. “They’ll be three tough games before we start conference,” Diddle said. “We’ve had three really good days of practice. We’re looking forward to just playing and getting ready to get our conference season going.”With the layoff in between games, the Hawks (11-3) are now entering the second part of the season and probably the home stretch. The WJCAC conference opener against South Plains follows the games in Arizona.The past few days have given the Hawks a chance to work on some of their pressing issues, too. There are two in Diddle’s opinion: rebounding and shots in the paint.Diddle said the Hawks have been out-rebounded in their losses, particularly pointing out the Midland and South Plains games in the WJCAC Pre-Conference Tournament right before the break.He said his players have to grab more offensive and defensive boards, but it’s a team issue, not necessarily directed toward one group of players. Everyone, from the post players to the guards, has to get more rebounds.Points in the paint, however, are something the post players have to work on. Diddle said posting up and finishing in the lane is something that needs to continuously improve.The Hawks are without center Jackie Bartleson, who is out for the season because of injury.Twyla Ards, Tasha Tubbs and Porsche Young are just three standouts for the Hawks this season, but Diddle said neither of them are the go-to player. The key has been getting the ball to whoever is playing well, which ensures any number of players could contribute on any given night.“Our program is not built on a star or a go-to person,” he said. ‘We try to get the ball to the person who has the hot hand. We try to distribute the shot. We’re more team-oriented than anything, but I know Tubbs had 28 against Midland. She was hot and our players did a good job of getting her the ball.”Howard College menThe Howard College men’s basketball team is also in Arizona for the New Year, competing in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz. WJCAC play doesn’t start until Jan. 10 against South Plains for the defending national champions, but this is the last bundle of nonconference games the Hawks will play in before then. The 2010 Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout lasts through Sunday and the Hawks start off against Scottsdale Community College at 2 p.m. MST.The Hawks (10-1) have been hampered by injuries all season and depth has been an issue with the dismissal of players such as Will Bunton. They’ll try to bounce back from that and keep winning as conference play approaches.