Pounds Making His Presence Felt As Hun Boys' Hoops Starts 2-1
By Bill Alden
Coming from a small town in North Carolina, Tim Pounds wasn't quite sure what to expect as he took the floor for the Hun School boys' basketball team last Wednesday in its season opener against visiting national power Blair Academy.
With the Hun gym packed and the team buoyed by a raucous section of students wearing bright red T-shirts emblazoned "Stone Section" in honor of Raider head coach Jon Stone, Pounds overcame any nerves he may have had and got caught up in the moment. Employing slashing drives and a feathery jump shot, Pounds poured in 23 points to help lead Hun to a riveting 64-59 win over Blair.
Minutes after wading through the joyous post-game celebration which saw the Stone Section fans storm the court and mob their heroes, Pounds smiled as he reflected on his journey to New Jersey from Dudley, N.C.
"It's a big change, a big transition," said the 6'4 Pounds, standing in the hallway outside the Hun locker room. Everything is so structured here. It's real strict academically. I didn't really know what a prep school was before I got involved in this process."
Pounds, though, was quite familiar with the brand of basketball played at the prep level in New Jersey, saying he was aware of the highly touted pair of Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva who led Blair to national prominence last season before heading to Duke and UConn, respectively.
"I wasn't getting recruited in North Carolina so I wanted to do a post-grad year," explained Pounds. "I had heard about Deng and Villanueva. We're all basketball players when we step on the court."
Noting that he and his teammates had some pent-up energy due to their originally scheduled opener against Redemption Christian on December 6 having been cancelled due to the snowstorm, Pounds was basically satisfied with his debut. "I played my hardest," said Pounds. "I missed a few shots and I made a few bad decisions."
Making one of the key good decisions of the night, Pounds hit a long distance three-pointer at the end of the first quarter to give Hun a 16-13 lead and a major lift. After building that edge to a 22-15 lead, the Raiders went cold as the Bucs went on a 21-8 run to take a 6-point lead into the dressing room.
Turning up the defensive pressure in the opening moments of the second half, the Raiders outscored Blair 22-10 in the third quarter to get the upper hand heading into the final eight minutes of the contest. Hun weathered a furious Bucs rally to hold on for the win.
Hun coach Stone was satisfied with his team's effort in toppling Blair although he acknowledged the club is far from the finished product.
"I think we stepped it up a bit defensively, we started limiting them on second shots in the third quarter," explained Stone. "I think it was the defense that got us going. We're happy to get a win but there's no question that our offense needs a lot of work. We got pretty stagnant offensively."
Stone's analysis was borne out by Hun's performance last weekend at the Peddie School Invitational Tournament. The Raiders cruised by Solebury 71-32 on December 12, led by 17 points from Noah Savage and 16 from Mingus Murray. But in the semis a day later, Hun fell to powerful Lawrenceville 70-58 in overtime. Pounds, Murray, and Savage each had 16 points in the setback as Hun battled to compensate for the loss of 6'9 Haris Charalambous, a post-grad star from Manchester, England who was sidelined due to a fractured foot.
Stone knows that he will need Pounds and Charalambous to step up if the Raiders are to click on all cylinders. "Tim is pretty versatile, he can do a lot of things for us," said Stone, whose team plays at St. Benedict's on December 17 before hosting Pennington School on December 18 and Tabor Academy on December 19.
"Haris understands the game. He's done a nice job with his skill work. The two of them bring things to us in a lot of ways. The most important thing is that they have fit in well with the guys we already have. That's real important to our team chemistry."
While Pounds came to Hun to help maximize his options for college basketball, his main focus this winter is on team success. "We played together, we did a pretty good job," added Pounds. "I'm trying to help us take them all."