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Kazmarek is AACC's answer College has financial problems and needs a men's hoops coach

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Ken Kazmarek is the answer to two problems that Anne Arundel Community College has, and here's hoping the school sees it that way in the near future.

Anne Arundel has financial problems, and the Pioneers need a men's basketball coach. Kaz is the answer.

But the root of the problem is the problem itself, money. It may come down to whether the college can make the job financially worthwhile to Kazmarek.

Better put, it could be a question of does AACC want to make a commitment to the hoops program and spend money to make money?

Kaz has the ability to win and build a first-class program, while generating revenue for the school from attendance and summer camps. Those things are easier said than done; you have to know how to do it.

Kaz knows how, and would have the necessary help around him to make it happen.

The AACC men's job opened up when Mark Amatucci resigned at midseason of his third year.

Amatucci is reported to be a finalist for the vacant Catholic University of D.C. position. Assistant coach Mark Healy finished the season on an interim basis for the Pioneers.

Kazmarek, head basketball coach at Broadneck for the past eight years, has applied for the post and appears to be the front-runner among candidates that reportedly include Healy and Navy plebes coach Norm Amorose.

AACC athletic director Buddy Beardmore will not confirm rumors that Kaz has been offered the job, and for now is reserving comment except to say, "We hope to name our coach soon."

In his tenure at Broadneck, Kaz led the Bruins to an overall record of 140-54 (.721 percentage) and qualified for the playoffs every season.

The animated coach whose squeaky voice annoys opponents had three straight 20-win seasons from 1988 through 1991, going 62-11 over a period in which the Bruins became the archrival of perennial county champion Annapolis.

His Bruins won the prestigious Wes Unseld Classic during the Christmas holidays at Catonsville Community College the first four years of the tournament until finishing second this year.

Kaz has the inordinate ability to surround a couple of good players with a host of role types to produce a winner.

Before Kaz took over at Broadneck, the program had a lukewarm relationship with its fans. Kaz built the program into a winner and developed a strong following that includes an unusually high number of adults.

People in the Cape St. Claire community love their Bruins basketball, and a lot of opposing coaches around the county believe Kaz could duplicate the effort at Anne Arundel.

"I don't think there is any question that Kenny would build a following at Anne Arundel," said Annapolis coach John Brady, who Kaz assisted before taking the Broadneck post.

"No Anne Arundel coach has ever made it important to our county kids to play at Anne Arundel," Brady said. "Kenny would )) do that, and they would make money with him there."

Annually, Annapolis is among the top two teams in the county, and Brady's best players go everywhere but to Anne Arundel.

"Anne Arundel has a great academic reputation, but I can't say the same for their basketball program," Brady said. "I would love to tell my players that there is no need to go out to Idaho State or Western New Mexico to play when they can play right here and get the opportunity to go to a four-year school on a scholarship."

Amatucci had a few players from Baltimore high schools, and they don't put people in the stands in Arnold. Local players can put the fans in the stands.

Getting the top local talent to stay around would be one of Kazmarek's top assets.

First, he would be way ahead of the game in that most of the local high school coaches respect him and would have confidence in his ability to handle properly their players at the college level.

Kaz could walk into any county high school and players and coaches would know who he was. That recognition and his impeccable reputation as a complete coach -- one who thoroughly prepares his players, then knows what to do from buzzer to buzzer -- would help him.

If anyone could recruit the best high school talent in this county and keep it home for a year or two, it would be Kaz, who was also a candidate when Amatucci landed the job three years ago.

It would be my guess that two All-County players, Gene Pleyo of Northeast and Rich Riffle of Severna Park, who are considering playing junior college ball, seriously would consider Anne Arundel if Kaz were named head coach.

There are others, some of them from out of state. And when the new NCAA academic requirements of a 2.5 GPA go into effect in 1995, we are likely to see a rejuvenation of junior college sports.

The new academic standards could force many more athletically capable basketball players into the two-year junior college environment to qualify ultimately for a four-year college or university. Kaz could help them with his contacts.

Over the last eight years at Broadneck and before that at Annapolis as an assistant, he met a lot of college coaches. They hold the guy in high esteem and know the kind of program he runs.

Kaz would coach and be very visible around the county, and that's what it takes.

"Amatucci never came to one of my games to talk to me about one of my players," said Brady.

Certainly, it would seem that Annapolis would be the first place to go talent searching. With Brady's incredible record of more than 300 wins just a couple of games into his 15th season, it's obvious the players are there in the Cap City.

Believe it or not, Annapolis really never has been a hangout for Anne Arundel coaches the last few years. That is a mistake, but a correctable one with Brady endorsing Kaz and anxious to steer the talent his way.

With a winning team of local talent, the fans are likely to show up, and that would put bucks in the Pioneers' kitty. Kaz also could make the school a lot of money running a summer basketball camp.

His Bruins summer morning camp draws more than 125 kids alone. Make it a day camp at the community college and you could make some big bucks. A successful camp, which Kaz knows how to run, could garner a net of $16,000 and up. After expenses, the school could make $5,000 or more in a partnership with Kaz.

Being allowed to run a camp might induce Kaz to accept a reasonable part-time salary to coach the Pioneers. Kaz makes about $3,500 coaching basketball at Broadneck, where he is a full-time science teacher with a certified physical-education degree. He could continue teaching at Broadneck.

Summer camps are vital for hoops coaches in terms of public relations, recruiting and finances.

When you add it all up, Kaz could mean money in the bank for the community college in attendance and camps, not to mention the positive image he would generate for a school that has received more than its share of bad publicity.

It seems like a perfect marriage.

Consider all that I have mentioned and throw in that he is an AACC alumnus who resides a stone's throw from the campus, and Ken Kazmarek could be to Anne Arundel what Gary Williams has been to the University of Maryland -- the answer for a program in disarray.

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