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November 28, 2002

HOOPS '02-'03 New Mexico School for the Deaf (Girls)

From: Santa Fe New Mexican, New Mexico - 28 Nov 2002

By TODD BAILEY | The New Mexican 11/28/2002
Coach: Carl Denney, first year
District: 2A
City: Santa Fe

This time last year, Carl Denney had a job within the walls of the dormitories at New Mexico School for the Deaf.

Now he is walking the sidelines as the school's athletics director and head girls basketball coach.

His previous job may have been less stressful. It's easier to monitor kids in the hallways than it is to teach them to dribble. Of the 11 girls out for basketball this season, five have never bounced a ball on a basketball court.

This may be Denney's first year as an NMSD basketball coach, but he has taught basketball for 14 years in Washington, D.C., Arizona and Kentucky. Five of those years he was head coach with a 73-29 record.

"The challenge with this team is that we practice four times a week," Denney says through an interpreter.

Students often go home on Thursdays.

"We don't have a basketball tradition here, and we have only 44 high school kids here," Denney adds.

Denney has plans in the works for building a top-notch program. An elementary team was formed as a feeder program to the high school. Of this season's projected starters, three are sophomores and one is an eighth-grader.

The experience lies with Amiee Brown. At 5-foot-8, the NMSD senior is the tallest player on the team and averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds a game last year.

Eighth-grader Angel Serna is an exciting player and someone to keep your eyes on this season.

"She will be fun to watch," Denney says.

With five players learning the basics, it may seem that NMSD took two steps back before taking that step forward at season's start. But the athletes themselves made that first step gigantic.

"These kids are smart and are committed to learning," Denney says. "I thought some would quit after the first week, and that didn't happen. That impressed me. They are dedicated and determined to improve."

While the team plans to run a fast-breaking offense, its coach will concentrate on a pressure defense early on, giving more time for the newcomers to improve.

"I think we should be ready to go by January," Denney says. "Just in time for district to start."

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