HAGERSTOWN—Usually, Thanksgiving weekend is all about the turkey.
For the Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team, it will be a different menu.
There will be plenty of challenge and comparisons for the Hawks with a steady diet of Monroe this weekend during the Jim Brown Classic at the HCC athletic complex.
HCC will host a two-day mixer, bringing in arch-rival Allegany to take turns against two New York powers — Monroe College (Bronx) and Monroe Community College (Rochester).
The Hawks will play Monroe (Rochester) Saturday night at 8 and Monroe (Bronx) on Sunday at 6.
“There are going to be a lot of regional championships represented here this weekend,” HCC coach Barry Brown said. “This is exciting because we are able to bring in some exceptional talent to the tournament.”
The HCC women’s team will also host a tournament this weekend as Allegany, Monroe and Patrick Henry come to play in the Gold’s Gym Tournament.
It’s also a litmus test for the four men’s teams, since some combination of two of them usually match up in the District 3 finals for the right to go to the NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.
Monroe (Bronx) and HCC have been that pairing for the last two seasons. But the Hawks have some history with Monroe (Rochester), too.
“Monroe (Bronx) have been our nemesis,” Brown said. “The last couple of years, it’s been us against them to go to the nationals. Unfortunately, both times it’s been them.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks have a long history of playing Monroe (Rochester), dating back to when Jim Brown — Barry’s father, whom the tournament is named after — coached at HCC.
“The rivalry goes way back,” Barry Brown said. “Jerry Burns (Monroe’s coach) is one of the great coaches in the country. Whenever we play them, it’s been a great game.”
The tournament will be an early season barometer for HCC, which is again rebuilding after losing the majority of its scoring punch after last season. Again, the Hawks are getting offense from any of eight players on a given night, but this will be a different brand of basketball.
“When we play against the Maryland JuCo teams, we face a lot of players from the Mid-Atlantic area,” Barry Brown said. “When you play the Monroes, you face the New York City players. They are more physical ... that’s part of the challenge.”
HCC is looking for a framework for its defense and a solid rotation on offense to lean on as the season progresses. Barry Brown said these games will be the challenge needed and could very well give the Hawks a taste of adversity.
To add to it, HCC will be face Monroe (Bronx) again Nov. 30 in the Monroe Tournament.
Four games will be played both Saturday and Sunday with HCC’s women and men featured in the last two contests each day.
For the men, it will be a November preview of what might be in store for them if they become three-time Region XX champs in March.
“No matter who we play, it will be Monroe or Monroe when whoever gets to the final,” Brown said. “These teams are becoming as big of a rival as Allegany is for us.”