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SWAC Notebook

February 17, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Southwestern Athletic Notebook

by Kendrick Marshall

It was put up or shut up time in the SWAC conference this week as there were big games that would determine who would be a step closer to entering the conference tournament, or who will be one step away from watching the whole thing unfold in the comfort of their living rooms.

The top three teams are in the conference are pretty much a lock in going to the SWAC tourney in mid- march, Texas Southern and Prairie View both at 9-2 and Alabama St. who chimes in at 9-3. The chase for the fourth and final spot involves one above .500 team in Mississippi Valley State University (8-4) and four other teams who are below the .500. It seems as if the Delta Devils are playing inspired basketball in the wake of the recent season-ending injury to star guard Michael Archie, who was shot following a game against Prairie View January 27th. The have reeled off four wins out of their last five games, including key victories over conference powerhouse Alabama State and last year’s conference champions the Alcorn State Braves.

The Braves of Alcorn State have fallen on hard times this season, once the toast of the conference and one win away from playing in the NCCA tournament, now are struggling to even make it into the tourney this season. Alcorn suffered a huge setback this weekend in Itta Bena as they were trounced by the Delta Devils 73-65 and fall two full games behind Valley for the last spot. Looks can be deceiving in this game even though it might have seemed that MVSU ruled the day, Alcorn held them to 37 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent from the line. On Alcorn’s side of the ball they shot 44 percent, but were unable to make key free throws down the stretch, only shooting 64 percent from the charity stripe.

The Jackson State Tigers are trying to claw their way back into the race as well. They had the most surprising win of the weekend as they knocked off the conference leaders Texas Southern 80-63. The tigers, who through the past two weeks lost five game by a total of 13 points, were lead by Illinois State transfer Ishmael Joyce who scored a career high 32 points with 21 of those points coming in the first half of the game. Cliff walker, the tiger’s second leading scorer pitched in with 20 points as the tigers shot 58 percent from the field a season high.

The other team who is on the outside looking in is the Grambling tigers, who also share the same record as JSU (5-7). They were inflicted with a major set back with a 74-61 loss to Prairie View. The tigers just could not contain Prairie View guard Greg Burks who scored a game high 25 points in the win. The key to this game was the battle on the boards. Prairie View out rebounded the tigers 47-35. William McDonald has a remarkable game for Grambling coming away with triple-double scoring 12 points grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking 10 shots. Paul Haynes the team’s leading scoring had 20 points, but his downfall was he had six turnovers and zero assists. If you are a Grambling fan you might want to hope that some of the football team luck rubs off on your struggling basketball team if you want them to make the SWAC tourney in March.

News and Notes:

Apparently in these days of sports guarantees are made to boost the morale of a team who is usually on the way down in the standings. No different is Jackson State University head basketball coach Andy Stoglin, who last week stated that if his team does not make the SWAC tournament he will resign as head coach. In response to this the tigers defeated Southern University in double overtime on the road and upset Texas Southern Saturday. The tiger coach is in the last year of his contract and speculation has it that if he is fired at the end of the season he could move on to coach Tennessee State University, who is currently without a head basketball coach. Stoglin is close friends with former Arkansas Razorback head coach Nolan Richardson whose grandson Nolan Richardson III was fired earlier in the month, So watch out for further developments in that saga.

SWAC Players of the week:

Ishmael Joyce of Jackson State and William McDonald of Grambling.

Joyce had a career-high 32 points in a big win for Jackson State over Texas Southern 80-63 Saturday night. McDonald recorded a triple-double of epic proportions tallying 12 points 11 rebounds and a whopping 10 blocks against Prairie View.

Game of the Week:

This weekend the MVSU Delta Devils will travel down to Prairie View to take on the Panthers in a match up that will have major implications on the tournament race. Prairie View and MVSU are separated by 11/2 games in the standings for first place in the conference. Look for Prairie View to unleash their best player Greg Burks who is the fourth leading scorer in the conference with 16.7 points per game. The last time these two teams played the Delta Devils defeated the Panthers 87-68 in Itta Bena this game should go down to the wire this time.


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