Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sports

At least 12 all-MEAC basketball players or all-MEAC caliber talents have transferred out of the conference in the last four years. Former Norfolk State 6-8 forward Rashid Gaston and former Florida A&M 6-6 left-handed guard Malcom Bernard left the Spartans and Rattlers respectively over the last two years to play their final seasons at Xavier of the Big East. “I wanted to have the chance to go to the NCAA tournament,” Bernard said on Cincinnati.com of his move last year, similar to what Gaston expressed while leaving NSU two seasons ago. “I wanted to win a lot of games and be successful,” Bernard said. “I thought if I transferred, I would be able to do something bigger somewhere else.”

That’s not necessarily been the case. At NSU in the 2014-15 season, Gaston averaged a near double-double of 15.5 points and 9.6 boards per game on a 20-14 team. Bernard left an 8-21 Florida A&M team after averaging 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds a year ago. At Xavier, playing on much more talented squads, neither has approached those numbers.

Gaston averaged 7.4 points and team-bests of 5.9 rebounds and 0.5 blocks for the 24-14 Musketeers this season, just above Bernard’s 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds. Bernard started 35 of 38 games. Gaston started 18. Bernard averaged over 28 minutes per game, Gaston 20.

Both had their moments. Gaston led Xavier in rebounding in 11 games and had his best outing in a 23-point, 10-rebound effort in a loss to Villanova on Feb. 11. He followed that up with a 19-point, 14-rebound performance in a loss to Providence four days later.

Bernard had perhaps his best game in a battle against Arizona in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. He scored 15 points and pulled down six rebounds in a 73-71 Musketeers win over the second-seeded Wildcats that advanced Xavier to the Elite Eight. Both Gaston and Bernard had five points in a 83-59 loss to eventual national runner-up Gonzaga that ended their season. As for exposure, reaching the Elite Eight at Xavier is certainly bigger than 17-17 Norfolk State’s run to the MEAC Tournament finals and a first round appearance in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament or FAMU’s 8-21 finish.

Sterling Smith, an all-MEAC guard at Coppin State, wound up as a starter at Pittsburgh in the ACC in the 2015-16 season. Richaud Pack, a 17-point scorer and another all-MEAC player at North Carolina A&T in 2014, ended up as an occasional starter on Maryland’s Big 10 squad a year ago.

Smith, after averaging 13.1 points and 30 minutes a game at Coppin, averaged 4.3 points and 17 minutes for the Panthers last season. Pack’s 17 points and 34 minutes per game at A&T turned into 5.8 points and 25 minutes a night for the 2015-16 Terps.

“I was stunned and disappointed,” said Cy Alexander, then Pack’s coach at A&T. “He was projected to be our leading scorer coming back. When he decided to leave at the late date that he did, it was impossible to recruit someone of his skill and athletic ability to replace him. It was an obstacle we could not overcome.”

Alexander said Pack wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament and figured that Maryland, in a multiple-bid league like the Big 10, had a better chance than A&T in the one-bid MEAC. Alexander said Pack indicated that it didn’t matter if he didn’t play. Perhaps it’s the old adage of, ‘I’d rather be a little fish in a big pond than a big fish in a little pond.’ Okay, but does that make sense?

Deron Powers of Hampton bolted the Pirates after they won the 2015 MEAC Tournament title and he was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player. He led the Pirates into a first round NCAA Tournament matchup with topside Kentucky. Powers, a 5-11 former MEAC rookie of the year who had scored 1,080 points and handed 385 assists in his three years at Hampton, would have been the top returning point guard in the MEAC. He scored 10 points and handed out 3.7 assists per game and was among the league leaders playing over 32 minutes per game in his final season with the Pirates.

He took up residence at Hofstra University of the Colonial Athletic Association, another one-bid league, and after sitting out last season played his final year of eligibility for the Pride. Powers is one of the few whose numbers have gone up since transferring. He scored 13.0 points and dished out 5.2 assists per game for the 15-17 Pride in just about the same number of minutes.

Powers told a newspaper at the time of his transferring that one of his reasons for the move was “the vibe I got up there when I went to visit, how seriously they take basketball.” He was also quoted saying he wanted to go to a “better program” in a “better setting.”
Seriously?

Let’s see. Hofstra drew 2,819 to its largest attended home game this season on Feb. 4 vs. Drexel. By contrast, Hampton drew 3,214 to its Jan. 25 home date vs. South Carolina State and 4,545 that showed up for a showdown vs. North Carolina Central on Jan. 16.

Hofstra finished 7-11 in CAA play, good for seventh in the 10-team CAA. Hampton was 14-17 overall, fourth in the MEAC at 11-5 and played in the College Basketball Invitational postseason tournament. Powers went from a little pond to a smaller pond.

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor

You know things have changed in NCAA Div. I men’s college basketball when HBCU teams are being raided of their talented players.

In the latest reported defection, Howard senior guard James ‘J-Byrd’ Daniel, who led the nation in scoring in the 2015-16 season but played in only two games this season after suffering a preseason high ankle sprain, has decided to leave the Bison for what he hopes will be greener pastures.

Reports this week indicate Daniel is choosing between Missouri, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and DePaul.

That never happened before. For the most part, HBCUs got good but marginal players and certainly not the kind of blue-chip talent that major D1 schools went after and landed.

That was then.

Now, HBCU coaches better keep their heads on the proverbial swivel and keep their talented players under wraps, or at least keep them happy. That’s because the so-called ‘high major’ teams in the ACC, Big East, SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12 etc., and even the mid-majors are being drained by the NBA of their top talent, primarily by the NBA, and early in most cases, in players’ first or second years. One-and-done is the new normal. That means they have to look elsewhere, anywhere for talented players.

Even to HBCUs, you might ask? Even to HBCUs is the answer. It’s a dog-eat-dog world!

Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry, who recruited Daniel out of Hampton, Virginia’s Phoebus High School and has coached him in his four years playing for the Bison, says his biggest recruiting task each year Daniel has been at Howard has been keeping him there.

In the 2013-14 season, the 5-11 Daniel became the first freshman to lead the MEAC in scoring when he averaged 21.7 points per game and was named the conference’s top freshman. With more talent around him as a sophomore, he put up 16.7 points per game and was named first team all-conference. Last year as a junior he topped the nation scoring 27.1 points per game and also led all Div. I players in free throws made and attempted, was fourth in total points and fifth in total field goals. He was the 2015-16 MEAC Player of the Year and the 2016-17 preseason pick by league coaches to repeat with that honor. He is already Howard’s all-time leading scorer with 1,933 points and trails only Tom Davis of Delaware State (1987-91) as the MEAC’s all-time leading scorer (2,275 points).

Though Daniel told the BCSP two weeks ago that he had not ruled out returning to Howard, Nickelberry now seems resigned to losing him.

“It’s a trend in college basketball now. Fifth year guys look at their options,” said Nickelberry. “He’s had an unbelievable career for us and it would be selfish of me, and unfair to the process, not to let him go through it. I’m going to support him. And whatever happens, it can’t change the career he’s had for us and what he’s done for our program.

“This is a family decision. And I’m sure he’ll make the best decision for him, his future and his family.”

Nickelberry also said James T. Miller, a talented redshirt junior who battled injuries this season but was Howard’s second-leading scorer at 14.7 points per game, will play his final year of eligibility elsewhere. Reports indicate Miller will transfer to Missouri State.

According to NCAA statistics, 40% of Div. I basketball recruits leave their initial school by the end of their sophomore year. In other words, plenty players transfer. Sometimes it’s for lack of playing time. Other times it’s because they get in trouble or don’t get along with the coach or perhaps the school is facing some kind of probation. Some leave for a less competitive conference or move down to Div. II. Increasingly, players are leaving to play elsewhere in their fifth year of eligibility.

Regardless of why, HBCU teams losing their star players is a new phenomenon. The Mid Eastern Athletic Conference has been hit particularly hard.

North Carolina Central’s 6-7, 215-pound forward Stanton Kidd could be the poster boy for this new trend. Kidd averaged 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 2013, his only year at NCCU after two years at South Plains Junior College in Texas and one year at Charleston Southern.

In 2013, he left the Eagles to play his last year of eligibility at Colorado State. The move so shocked and caught NCCU head coach LeVelle Moton off-guard that he refuses to talk about it even now.

He was first team all-MEAC at NCCU. But what got him to thinking about so-called ‘greener pastures’ was that he played well against the major programs, averaging right at 20 points in games against Wichita State, Drake and Marquette.

At the time, Kidd told his hometown newspaper, The Baltimore Sun, “I shocked myself. I said, ‘If I can do that here, I know I can do it at another level against better competition.’ I’m not saying I played down to my level, but if you play at a higher level, it brings out the best in you.”

There it is. At least, that’s one way the thinking goes.

Without Kidd, NCCU finished 28-6, won the MEAC Tournament and played and lost to Iowa State (93-75) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With Kidd, they may have gone farther. At CSU the following year, Kidd, after sitting out a year, averaged 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. CSU finished 27-7 and lost a first round NIT game to South Dakota State. Kidd is playing this year overseas in Germany.

Since then, the flood gates have opened.

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor

GRAMBLING, La.
Grambling State University interim women’s basketball head coach Freddie Murray is no longer interim. Murray was named women’s basketball head coach last Wednesday morning.

Murray, Athletics Director Paul Bryant and GSU President Rick Gallot signed a two-year agreement in the president’s office. Murray had filled the job on an interim basis since July 2016. Bryant, who started as athletics director in January, said all coaches have been under review and it became clear to him early that retaining Murray should be a priority.

The university and Murray have agreed to a two-year deal with an annual salary of $120,000, contingent on approval of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. The contract extends from April 2017 through May 2019.

Gallot praised Murray’s vision and commitment to the university and the program. “I’m looking forward to us all growing old together here at Grambling State University,” he said.

“As a lifelong athletics and sports enthusiast, I appreciate and enjoy all sports. As a former basketball coach, I think I know something about what it takes to be a good basketball coach — and Murray has it all,” said Bryant. “He’s dedicated and focused, he knows the game, and he challenges and encourages his players to get the most out of them individually and as a team. Hiring him was a no-brainer.”

Murray, a 1990 Jackson State University graduate, joined the Lady Tigers basketball program as an assistant coach under then head coach Nadine Domond. In his first year, he helped Domond and the Lady Tigers with a strong 17-14 overall record and 13-5 record in Southwestern Athletic Conference competition. Two players were selected SWAC All-Conference – Jazmin Boyd (SWAC Freshman of the Year) and Shakyla Hill (SWAC Second Team All-Conference). He took over as interim head coach when Domond left for Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Before joining GSU, Murray was assistant women’s basketball coach at Florida A&M University from 2010-2015, helping the Lady Rattlers to their best record in 2010 when they finished the season 22-8. In previous roles, he worked as an assistant coach at North Carolina A&T State University twice from 2003-2005 and 2007-2010. During his second coaching job at A&T, the team won three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular season championships and trips to the NCAA and WNIT Tournaments.

One team from each of the four black college conferences finished the 2016-17 season on top of the final BCSP Top Ten.

The North Carolina Central men (25-9), who won both regular season and tournament titles in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference, topped the NCAA Div. I men’s Top Five.

The women of Texas Southern (23-10) tied for the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular season title with Grambling State and then knocked off the Lady Tigers in the SWAC championship game to earn the top spot for the Div. I women.

The ladies of Virginia Union (28-5) did not win the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament title but went on to capture the NCAA Div. II Atlantic Region title and make it all the way to the D2 championship game to earn the ladies the women’s Div. II top ranking.

And eventual men’s champion Clark Atlanta (21-12) was seeded second in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament and became the highest seeded team to capture a Div.
II conference title as they defeated Fort Valley State for the SIAC title. That earned the Panthers and first-year head coach Darrell Walker the top Div. II designation.

Clark Atlanta’s Walker joins another Walker, Grambling State’s now departed head coach Shawn Walker in sharing the Men’s Coach of the Year award. Shawn Walker led the G-Men to a 16-17 finish overall after finishing 7-24 a season ago. Grambling finished third in the SWAC regular season and fell in the SWAC Tournament semifinals to eventual champion Texas Southern.

VUU second-year coach AnnMarie Gilbert repeated as the women’s coach of the year as she led the Lady Panthers to their second straight Atlantic Region title and Elite Eight appearance.
This year the Lady Panthers won two games at the Elite Eight before falling in the Div. II championship game to Ashland, 93-77.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
Lynn W. Thompson, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, announced Friday, March 31, the appointment of Ryan Ridder as the next head coach for Bethune-Cookman Men’s Basketball.

“I have watched and admired Ryan Ridder from his days as a stellar student-athlete in high school and college, and also witnessed his growth and success as a coach on the college level,” said Thompson. “I know him. I know his family.

His DNA is made up of integrity, passion and the ability to teach. He is an outstanding servant leader who just happens to be a phenomenal basketball coach. His progression as a college coach on each level has prepared him to accept this challenge. He is a local product with great knowledge and respect for our university and community, and we are proud to have one of the great young coaches in the nation to join the B-CU family.”

No stranger to Daytona Beach area basketball as both a player and coach, Ridder comes to Bethune-Cookman after a four-year stint at Daytona State (Junior) College.

Ridder was successful in helping lead a resurgence of the Falcons program that produced 95 victories and four Mid-Florida Conference championships. Daytona State also finished the regular season ranked in the NJCAA National Poll in all four of Ridder’s seasons. Ridder was named Mid-Florida Conference Coach of the Year in each of his four seasons at the helm of the Falcons program.

Off the court, Ridder’s student-athletes had a 100 percent graduation his first two years and 96 percent overall across four years. No stranger to the Division I level of athletics, Ridder served three years as an assistant coach at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

COLUMBUS, Ohio
The ladies of Virginia Union University, who staged second half comebacks to knock off second and third seeds and get to Friday’s NCAA Div. II national basketball championship game, could not pull it off a third time as they fell to top seed and undefeated Ashland University, 93-77.

Ashland (37-0) were just too efficient and relentless for the sixth-seeded Lady Panthers (28-5) to overcome. The Lady Eagles shot 52.6% from the field, 50% (11 of 22) from 3-point
range and canned a sparkling 20 of 22 (90.9%) free throws to keep VUU at bay. Ashland had a remarkable 24 assists on 31 made baskets.

“It’s just tough to kind of figure out how to slow down this Ashland team,” said second-year VUU coach AnnMarie Gilbert.

“We tried a little zone, we tried a little man-to-man defense, we pressured a little bit, but they push tempo so well. They just get it out of the net and they go. They run on makes and
misses and they find each other. Just when you think you’ve got them cornered, a skip pass occurs and another skip pass occurs.

“It’s a team that plays a different style that any team that we’ve faced. It’s not so much that they are fast afoot, they are extremely efficient. They’re hard-nosed and don’t take a play off. They’re just a well-oiled machine. Kudos to them on an outstanding season.”

But VUU did not go down without a fight. Though never leading at the end of any quarter, the Lady Panthers battled and took leads in the first and second quarters and never trailed
by double digits until the last play of the third quarter when AU’s Maddie Dackin’s made two free throws to send the Lady Eagles into the final quarter up 68-58.

Between the last 1:34 of the third quarter and first 2:21 of the fourth, VUU went scoreless until Alexis Johnson’s 3-pointer cut the lead to 75-61. The 11-3 Ashland run all but ended the Lady Panthers’ chances.

The game was played before a raucous capacity crowd of 2,200, about 2,000 of them rabid Ashland fans who filled the arena at Ohio Dominican University just 82 miles from the school’s Ashland, Ohio campus.

VUU’s undoing was its inability to slow down the Eagles, a bevy of misses in close on the offensive end and a 5-of-15 performance at the charity stripe. “All the little things we did for us to get here, we just failed in some of those areas today,” said Gilbert.

Johnson, a talented 6-foot junior forward, led VUU with a game-high 28 points canning 12 of 24 shots from the field including 3 of 4 from behind the arc. Six-two senior center Lady
Walker scored 19 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds in her last game in a VUU uniform. Both Johnson and Walker were named to the all tournament team.

“The ball just wasn’t going into the basket,” said Johnson. “Those are easy shots we usually make but tonight they just weren’t falling.”

Ashland evenly distributed minutes between eight players and had five score in double figures led by 19 points from freshman Jodi Johnson. Junior Laina Snyder, named the tournament’s
most valuable player, added 17 points. After posting a 21-18 rebounding edge in the first half, VUU was out-rebounded 37-34 for the game.

“We played come-from-behind in the two previous games but I just knew we couldn’t get down to Ashland,” said Gilbert.

The Eagles, champions of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Midwest Region, won each of its three games in the Elite Eight by double-digits and had not trailed prior to meeting the Lady Panthers.

“But we fought,” said Gilbert. “We were never really in it but never totally out of it. I’m just proud of the statement we made.”

After losing in the CIAA Tournament’s semifinal round, the Lady Panthers regrouped and took the Atlantic Region title for the second straight year to earn a return trip to the Elite Eight.

“I’d also really like to say how proud I am of our young ladies,” said Gilbert. “Our goal was to make it to the Elite Eight and see how far we could go from there. I’m just so proud of the run and the journey it took to get here.

“People know about Virginia Union. We are a program on the rise. We’re rebuilding. We’re a program that won a national championship in 1983. We’re back!”

“We weren’t that good my first two seasons,” said Walker. “It took for us to get coach G (Gilbert), one of the best coaches in the country, for us to get back here. Since she set foot on the campus of Virginia Union University that’s been her mindset.”

“It was a learning experience,” said Johnson. “We’re just going to come back stronger and learn from our mistakes.”

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor

Citing an unnamed source on a Twitter post Monday night, ESPN College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman said Howard senior guard James “J-Byrd” Daniel III, the top scorer in the 2015-16 NCAA Div. I season who played in just two games for the Bison this season, will play his final year of eligibility elsewhere.

Contacted by phone early Tuesday afternoon by the Black College Sports Page, Daniel said he is not necessarily transferring. “Howard is one of my top choices,” said Daniel who is graduating from Howard in May but will have another year of eligibility based on his short stint on the court this season.

“I’m more or less weighing my options,” Daniel said. “Howard is still in consideration.”

As to whether he talked with Goodman, Daniel said “Not me personally. I’ve just put my name out there. I’m open to everything.”

Daniel sustained a high sprain to his left ankle in the preseason that kept him out of all except two games in January for Howard this season. He scored 24 points in a 78-66 home loss to Florida A&M on Jan. 4 and 10 points in a 66-48 loss at Columbia three nights later.

Daniel said Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry, who recruited and has coached him in all of his four years at Howard, was aware of his decision.

“Coach Nickelberry and I have a wonderful relationship,” Daniel said. “He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around. Of course, he knew first.”

In a BCSP story a year ago, Nickelberry said his toughest recruiting job over the past three seasons has been convincing Daniel to stay at Howard. It appears he may have to do it again. Attempts to reach Nickelberry before press time were unsuccessful.

Daniel, a 5-11 guard from Phoebus High School in Hampton, Va. led all scorers in the nation a season ago with over 27 points per game. He also led all Div. I players in free throws made and attempted, was fourth in total points and fifth in total field goals. He was the 2015-16 MEAC Player of the Year and 2016-17 preseason pick by league coaches to repeat with that honor.

In the 2013-14 season, Daniel became the first freshman to lead the MEAC in scoring when he averaged 21.0 points per game and was named the conference’s top freshman. He is already Howard’s all-time leading scorer with 1,933 points. Daniel trails only Tom Davis of Delaware State (1987-91) as the MEAC’s all-time leading scorer with 2,275 points.

The second time was the charm for the ladies of Virginia Union and as a result one black college basketball team was still alive on Wednesday.

The Virginia Union Lady Panthers out of the CIAA, repeat champions of the Atlantic Region and in the NCAA Div. II Elite Eight for the second straight year, pulled out a heart throbbing 78-73 win Tuesday afternoon over Peach Belt Conference and Southeast Region champ Columbus State to advance to the NCAA Div. II Final Four national semifinals on Wednesday.

Down 63-57 entering the final quarter, VUU outscored CSU 21-10 in the final period, holding them scoreless over the last 4:45 to get the win. CSU led 73-70 before VUU closed on an 8-0 run.

VUU (27-4) took the lead for good at 74-73 on junior Alexis Johnson’s jumper in the lane with 1:43 to go. Johnson canned one of two free throws with just under a minute left to put the Panthers up 75-73 before freshman Kishona Sutton drained two free throws with 20 seconds left to stretch the lead to 77-73. CSU continued to misfire, in one sequence missing three straight shots from in close. Johnson capped the win with a free throw in the final seconds.

The loss snapped a 21-game win streak for the Lady Cougars (30-2). VUU and head coach AnnMarie Gilbert were facing a familiar foe in CSU head coach Anita Howard, who last year was the head coach at CIAA member Livingstone.

VUU played the winner of Tuesday’s 2:30 p.m. quarterfinal Elite Eight game between 2nd-seed Cal Baptist (34-2) and 7th-seed West Florida (28-6). The semifinal game was set for Wednesday at 6 p.m. and was to be carried live on CBS.

The Div. II championship game is Friday at 7 p.m. and will also be carried live on CBS. Johnson, a 6-foot junior from Hamilton, New Jersey, led a balanced attack for the Lady Panthers (27-4) with 22 points. She also had a team-high 11 rebounds. CIAA Player of the Year and Tournament MVP, 6-2 senior Lady Walker had only 4 first-half points but was a key factor in the second half finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Walker, Johnson, Rachael Pecota and 6-2 sophomore Jasmine Carter did a good job limiting CSU standout center Alexis Carter. Carter had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cougars but shot just 5 of 16 from the field. Britteny Tatum led CSU with 18 points. VUU senior guard Ashley Smith and Johnson had 11 big first-half points that kept VUU in striking distance. Smith finished with 14 points while Pecota had 10.

The Lady Panthers pushed the pace continuously in the first half but were plagued by 18 turnovers. They trailed 22-16 after one period and 45-41 at the half. They were down 29-17 in the second quarter but went on a 12-0 run, with nine by Smith to pull even at 29. The run grew to 18-3 as they took their biggest first-half lead at 35-32 with 3:26 left in the half. VUU turned the ball over only nine times in the second half. Last year in the Elite Eight, the Lady Panthers led by Div. II Player of the Year Kiana Johnson, lost to Bentley 53-52.

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor

NORFOLK
Norfolk State (17-16) could not overcome a second-half collapse that saw them give up a 3-point lead at 14:33 minute mark as North Carolina Central (25-8) ignited a 19-0 run that kept NSU scoreless for 11 minutes in the MEAC championship game at the Scope. NCCU guard Patrick Cole, the MEAC Player of the Year and the MVP of the tournament, led the Eagles with 18 points. NCCU coach LeVelle Moton was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach.

NSU was led by guard Zaynah Robinson, who scored 18 points. The Eagles will get an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. NSU will be invited to a lesser post-season tournament. The Eagles have won 3 regular-season MEAC titles over the past 4 years. Coach Moton dedicated the championship victory to late NCCU chancellor Debra Saunders-White, who died of cancer in November.

In the women’s championship game, Hampton University (20-12) captured the MEAC hoops title with a 52-49 win over Bethune Cookman (21-10).

HU guard Jephany Brown, the game’s MVP, and center Mikayla Sayle, each scored 10-points to lead the Pirates. HU coach David Six was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach. HU gains an automatic bid to the NCAA women’s tournament.

By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent

Men’s and women’s Div. I HBCU Basketball Tournament champs again have the unenviable tasks of taking on much bigger and more ballyhooed programs as the NCAA Tournament tips off this week. All but one of the teams’ coaches – fourth year women’s head coach Johnetta Hayes-Perry of SWAC champion Texas Southern – has been down this road before. Her counterpart at Texas Southern, men’s coach Mike Davis, is taking his SWAC champion Tigers to the Big Dance for the third time in five years.

This will be Davis’s eighth appearance in the tournament overall. He made four others as head coach at Indiana and one trip while leading Alabama Birmingham. Davis’s troops (23-11) are a 16th seed in the South Regional and will face top seed North Carolina (27-7) Friday (4 p.m.) in Greenville, S.C.

For MEAC women’s champion Hampton, it’s six for Six. Head coach David Six, after winning five straight MEAC titles and making five straight NCAA appearances from 2010-2014, will be taking his sixth team to the tournament. His Lady Pirates (20-12) are seeded 15th in the Bridgeport Regional and take on 2nd-seed Duke (27-5) on its home court in Durham, N. C. Saturday (9 p.m.).

Eight-year head coach LeVelle Moton will be taking his MEAC men’s champion North Carolina Central Eagles to the Dance for the second time in four years. His team has the best
overall record of the four at 25-8 but perhaps got the worst deal. NCCU played in the First Four game Wednesday (6:40 p.m.) in Dayton, Ohio vs. UC Davis (22-12). The winner gets a 16th-seed in the Midwest Regional and gets to take on top seed Kansas (28-4) on Friday (6:50 p.m.) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The TSU’s women’s date Saturday (6:30 p.m.) in the Oklahoma City Regional on the home court of top seed Baylor (30-3) in Waco, Texas will be the initial baptism as a head coach for Hayes-Perry and the TSU program. The Lady Tigers (23-9) are seeded 16th.

Ironically, neither Kansas in the men’s Big 12, North Carolina in the men’s ACC, Baylor in the women’s Big 12 or Duke in the women’s ACC won their conference tournament title.

UC-Davis is the only opponent of the four HBCU conference champs that won its conference tournament. The Aggies won the men’s Big West Tournament championship over UC Irvine to earn that conference’s automatic bid.

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor

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