Short of extending an olive branch to referees before tipoff, Deerfield Beach boys’ basketball coach Kenny Brown wants to show his new side this season.
While Brown’s Bucks — ranked ninth by Sourcehoops — will open the season with a fresh slate, Brown can only hope for the same with an improving but still tenuous reputation among the referees.
“Sometimes the reputation bothers me because I don’t want people to feel like I’m a jerk,” Brown said. “In the past, there was a perception of me with referees maybe talking to each to each other before the game. ‘Hey, watch out for that coach.’ Give him a tech. I just want to be known as somebody that coaches the game hard. It is a fine line being a fiery coach and providing a buffer between the refs and my players.”
Deerfield Beach has all the key components to win a state title in Brown’s sixth season. The Bucks return All-Broward first-team 6-3 guard Terence Johnson, 6-4 swingman Marcus Owens (16 ppg, 8 rpg), 6-6 wing Javaris Jenkins (15 ppg, 12 rpg) and point guard Vanderbilt Carpenter from a team that advanced to the Class 8A regional finals last season.
Whatever size issues the Bucks (22-5) had last season should be addressed with the addition of 6-8 center Solomon Kelly and pair of transfers from Boyd Anderson in 6-5 Joshua Williams and 6-8 Joshua Huntley.
As for coaching, knowledge of the game, drawing up plays out of timeouts and motivational skills, Brown (60-18 in past three seasons) can hold his own with the best of them.
But Brown acknowledges the X-factor in the Bucks’ title run — outside of coaching and talent — is whether referees still see him as the brash, up-and-coming coach at South Plantation who was never reluctant to voice his displeasure with officials or the one who has taken steps to channel his competitive fire on the sideline.
Brown said he sought out Miami Norland three-time state champion coach Lawton Williams for advice and credits Williams for giving him a different perspective.
Confirmation for Brown that he has made strides came in a letter from a referee commending Brown on his behavior.
“I will call Lawton any time night or day,” Brown said. “He has been very instrumental in giving me encouragement and strategy. Lawton kind of took me under his wing. We speak once or twice a week. I’m starting to do some things better. I am all about personal growth. I just want to be the best coach possible for my team.”