Clay-Chalkville PG thriving in coach’s system
By Erik Harris
For The Tribune
CLAY — Three years ago, Hasan Abdullah walked through the gym doors sporting a tie-dye shirt for the first day of basketball practice.
Despite his lowly ninth-grade status, Abdullah, a point guard, was never one to be the brunt of the joke, but that didn’t stop his new head coach, Daniel Foy, from jabbing at his flashy attire.
Instead of breaking down the newcomer, Foy’s friendly fire put the freshman ball handler at ease and marked the beginning of a great three-year journey.
A few inches in height and a solid 20 pounds later, the now junior point guard buried his face in his hands — the same hands that dropped 31 points on the visitors — following Clay-Chalkville’s 67-63 loss to Gadsden City on Dec. 12. Teammate Brian Clark comforted Abdullah on the otherwise empty bench in the Clay-Chalkville gym.
His reaction might have been a little different a few years ago, but after the expectations built by Foy, suffering then the fifth loss of the season didn’t come without pain for the Cougars.
In Foy and Abdullah’s first two seasons, Clay-Chalkville posted a 44-16 record, last season reaching the Class 6A Northeast Regional semifinals at Jacksonville State, its third trip to the regional tournament in school history. It lost 61-40 to Woodlawn in 2000 and fell 77-48 to Parker in 2001.
The Cougars are already playing well this season, a likely playoff team next month.
“It’s kind of like school, you know, because you’ve got to learn plays and learn when to do this and how to read defenses,” Abdullah said. “So when you’ve been in that system for a while you start to get accustomed to it and now you’re looking for the same things that coach wants you to look for.”