PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — Fans of the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks were left wondering ‘what could’ve been’ following the 2017-18 season.
From the outset of the season, the Hawks were riddled with injuries to their key players. The trio of Ryan Andino, Dontae Caldwell, and Isaac Taylor all missed the season due to various injuries. The Hawks were forced to turn to their freshmen and walk-ons from the start of the season, and while they were competitive in some games, they were ultimately out-matched on both ends of the floor.
When all was said and done, the Hawks finished with a record of 7-25 overall, and just 3-13 in conference play. Eastern Shore finished 12th in the MEAC during the regular season, and fell in the First Round of the MEAC Tournament to the Norfolk State Spartans.
Following the dismal season, the Hawks have started to make some significant changes. That started with the head coaching position, as the school announced that it would not be renewing the contract of head coach Bobby Collins, who was the head coach of the Hawks for the past four seasons.
Over his four seasons at the helm, Collins compiled a record of 49-82, with one winning season overall.
Collins took over as head coach for the Hawks on April 8th, 2014, and immediately changed the culture of the program in year one. During the 2014-15 season, Collins guided the Hawks to an 18-15 record, which was the most wins by the Hawks in 41 seasons. Eastern Shore accepted an invitation into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, marking the first time that they played in the post-season since 1981.
The Hawks finished at 11-5 in the MEAC, good for a third-place finish.
While the Hawks would post double-digit wins in the each of the next two seasons, they failed to finish above the .500 mark in each of the following three seasons. After storming out of the gates in year one under Collins, the Hawks were unable to maintain their forward momentum, ultimately finishing 12th in the MEAC this past year.
With Collins heading out, the Hawks have turned to Clifford Reed to take the reigns for the 2018-19 season. The Hawks named Reed the interim head coach for the upcoming season, and the school will conduct a national head coaching search in 2019.
Reed is a seasoned veteran when it comes to coaching. He has spent the last four seasons as an associate head coach with the Hawks. Prior to that, he spent seven seasons as an associate head coach at various programs around the country, and he was the head coach of the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats for 10 seasons.
The level of familiarity that Reed has with the program and the players should help the team bounce back from a dismal 2017-18 season. If Andino, Caldwell, and Taylor are all healthy this season, the Hawks should climb in the MEAC standings and be competitive throughout the conference portion of the schedule.
What makes this scenario a head-scratcher is the fact that the Hawks are going to conduct a national search in 2019. It’s unclear as to how this decision will affect player morale and recruiting moving forwards, but one has to think that there won’t be a positive correlation between the two.
Only time will tell how this all plays out. But for now, Clifford Reed will be the next head coach of the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks.
– T. Bennett