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Date Posted: 10:07:11 11/14/05 Mon
Author: J.J.
Subject: Extra Work Paying Off For Blue Devils' Mojica
In reply to: Mike 's message, "Oh Baby!!!" on 22:30:32 11/13/05 Sun

<a rel=nofollow target=_blank href="http://www.courant.com/sports/basketball/hc-centralmen1110.artnov10,0,3715141.story?coll=hc-headlines-basketball">http://www.courant.com/sports/basketball/hc-centralmen1110.artnov10,0,3715141.story?coll=hc-headlines-basketball</a>

Courant Staff Writer

November 10 2005

NEW BRITAIN - Javier Mojica didn't leave Detrick Gym after his Central Connecticut teammates and coaches had dispersed from their practice-ending gathering at center court.

There was more to do.

Extra running, extra jumpers, extra effort.

"We don't have any superstars," said Mojica, a junior swingman. "We know to be successful we've got to do all that we can and the extras, too."

Mojica, the team's second-leading returning scorer (9.9) and rebounder (4.5), is a personification of that.

He was a freshman walk-on but he didn't do the usual walk-on duties, being a bench cheerleader who sometimes catches discarded towels after a timeout and plays only in the final seconds of a one-sided game.

Mojica averaged 7.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 26 games, including eight starts.

"I was nervous back then, and I couldn't play defense at all," said Mojica, a graduate of Auburn (Mass.) High School. "I've always been confident, even when people back home initially said I wouldn't be able to play up here."

Mojica was awarded a scholarship after his first season.

Last season wasn't so satisfying for Central or Mojica. The Blue Devils had their first losing season (12-16, 8-10 Northeast Conference) since 1997-98. Mojica had some impressive games. He had 16 points off the bench against LIU Jan. 22. But he also encountered some substandard ones.

He was dejected after scoring two points in a 75-56 loss to St. Francis (N.Y.). Then Central coach Howie Dickenman had a 45-minute talk with him. Dickenman benched Mojica for the next game against Fairleigh Dickinson. Dickenman was displeased with Mojica's mind-set and practice and game effort.

"I'm my toughest critic," Mojica said. "I'll get down on myself if I miss a shot. The bad thing is when I let it affect my play."

Dickenman said Mojica isn't without flaws, but he said: "I'm so proud of Javy's effort. He plays hard and puts in the extra time to get better."

Mojica's finish last season helped. After averaging 8.5 points and shooting 35.8 percent and 36.4 on threes through the St. Francis game, he averaged 11.0 points and shot 49.1 percent and 40.5 on threes in the last 16 games.

This summer Mojica (6 feet 3, 180 pounds) worked to get in the best condition of his basketball life. He helped a friend's family in Auburn by painting and helping to install new hardwood floors. And when he had the time, he went to Holy Cross.

"I'd go down there and play pickup games, take extra shots and lift weights," he said. "I had a good summer."

But the summer was marked with some discontent. DeMario Anderson, Central's leading scorer last season (14.1), said he was leaving to play somewhere else.

"I was shocked," Mojica said. "We had gone through so much as teammates for the two years. You figured he would have told somebody. He didn't; that was the biggest shock. But hey, he did what he thought was right. For us, we move on."

Mojica has done that well. He has played small forward on the first team in preseason practice. He's making shots, playing better defense and rebounding well.

"I've got so much room to improve, but this is probably my best preseason," Mojica said. "I'm moving all the time, and it's tough to box out someone who's coming at you full speed and then can shift and go past you. But at the same time, I'm trying to take my time on offense. Let the game come. Don't rush and don't get down on yourself.

"The one thing I won't be short of is outworking somebody. Take extra shots after practice, get in the guy's shirt on D; whatever it takes to come out on top."

Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant

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