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Last year, Michael Hicks and Corey Brown were a big part of one of the most successful Mules basketball teams in recent memory. Now as seniors, they are looking for even more success. The challenge for them is to become leaders of this year's team.
|Michael Hicks, left, and Corey Brown|
"In Corey's case, we were looking for a point guard. Mike was more a scorer," said Mules head coach Kim Anderson.
Mules assistant coach Brad Loos spotted the two first, when they were playing in a junior college all-star game. He convinced them to visit campus. Hicks and Brown liked what they saw and signed with the Mules.
Their impact was immediate. The pair helped the Mules to a 24-7 record, a conference tournament title and an appearance in the regional tournament. Hicks received first-team All-MIAA honors and was named MIAA Tournament MVP. He was a second-team Daktronics All-Region selection. Brown was second-team All-MIAA and an All-MIAA Tournament Team selection.
This summer, the two worked out to become more well-rounded players. Hicks worked on all aspects of his game while Brown focused on his jump shot, aided by daily sessions with Loos. Even with their success last season, Hicks and Brown are determined to help lead the Mules to even greater things this season. They want to win more games and go further in the NCAA tournament. They realize that will take both skills and leadership
"I have to be a leader this year on and off the court," Brown said. "The guys kind of look up to me, and when I tell them to do something, they listen."
Hicks and Brown gained valuable experience last year as juniors. Hicks will need that experience to help the younger players get used to playing at this level. Anderson expects to see both seniors step up and lead the team this year.
"I think they both have gotten a lot of attention," Anderson said. "I think it is justified in many respects but what they have to understand now is that the bull's eye is on their backs. They may not score as many points, but they can play as good a defense. They can get as many or more rebounds, make fewer mistakes and lead this basketball team. "
"That is what I look for from them," Anderson said. "I think if they do that, they will have a very successful year."
Anderson notes Hicks and Brown are two great guys with different personalities. "Corey is a quiet young man," he said. "He works extremely hard, is very tough; an excellent basketball player, just an excellent person. Mike is more outgoing, but plays with every bit of the passion that Corey does. Mike tends to have more ups and downs."
Along with their expanded leadership roles, Hicks and Brown will each play a different position on the floor. Hicks will play some small forward, and Brown will sometimes play off guard. Even though Brown sees this as a challenge, he believes he can adapt. He played off guard in high school but moved to the point guard when he played at Volunteer State Community College.
Hicks and Brown are both happy with the choice they made to come to UCM. Hicks is a mass communication major and Brown is majoring in recreation. Brown, who came here because of the coaches and the good educational opportunity, said he wouldn't change a thing.
"I love the experience here; it's great," Hicks said.
Anderson thinks their personalities complement each other well on and off the court, and he hopes that will help make the Mules successful this season.
"Corey plays hard all of the time; he's very tough. He has been through a lot of adversity and he has overcome it," Anderson said. "I think Mike is a young man who loves to play the game and is very competitive. He has a desire to win that I think is very special. In his case, he is a guy who hates to lose, and he seems to rise when times get tough. They are both very special individuals," he said. "I'm happy that we've had the chance to coach them here."
By David Rohrbach