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MEAC Notebook

February 27, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Notebook

by Jon Gonzalez

The Art of Losing

One year. That’s how long its been since North Carolina A&T has won a basketball game. During that one year span, A&T has lost 26 straight games, including 23 straight this season. The closest that the Aggies have come to a win was a two point loss to NC Central, a Division II school. No such thing as a gimmie when it comes to NC A&T.

To make matters worse, the Aggies’ best player, freshman Tyrone Green, broke his hand after punching something in the locker room during halftime of a game against Delaware State on February 15. A team knows it’s doomed to fail when it loses its first 20 games of the year and then loses its best player after he broke his hand out of frustration.

The teams’ latest setback, a 105-81 shellacking to Howard, was a microcosm of the Aggies’ entire season. In that game, A&T could not shoot, play D or take care of the basketball. Scoring, defense, ballhandling; if you can’t hack those three things, you aren’t going to win many games. The lone bright spot in the game for A&T was senior Landon Beckwith, who scored 26 points. Beckwith was solid in that game, and has been throughout the year. If only the Aggies had 12 Landon Beckwiths.

The Aggies next challenge on their way to the perfect season is on March 1 against Hampton, one of the top two teams in the MEAC. If the Aggies can lose by 24 to a middle of the pack MEAC team, losing to the Pirates should be no problem. After Hampton, the Aggies then take on Norfolk State and SC State. If A&T can hang on for three more games, the big O-fer is theirs.

Its not easy being the worst team in D-I, but some team has to do it.

Down to the Wire

With three games left for both South Carolina State and Hampton, the race for the MEAC regular season championship and the top seed in the MEAC Tournament couldn’t be any tighter. The schedule making gods have set up the battle for the MEAC crown nicely. Both teams play Norfolk State and NC A&T in addition to a March 3 game against each other. NC A&T will be cake for both teams. Norfolk State, while not at the same level of cream cake as A&T, should be a win for Hampton and SC State as well. So all in all likelihood, the March 3 match-up will be for all the marbles. Should SC State win, the Bulldogs would clinch the regular season championship.

Thank Goodness for the MEAC

If not for conference play, Coppin State might be in the same predicament as NC A&$38T, winless. The Eagles are 0-9 against non-conference opponents and 9-6 against the MEAC, good for a 9-15 overall mark. The last time Coppin State beat a non-MEAC team was on Dec.21, 2001, when the Eagles slipped by powerhouse Puerto Rico-Mayaquez 57-56. The last time they beat a real non-conference opponent was on Nov. 19 of that same year. The Eagles tripped up Loyola MD.

MEAC Quick Hits

Delaware State: The Hornets are the other good team in the MEAC this year that is currently in third behind Hampton and SC State. Although they can’t win the regular season championship, the Hornets can still lock up a number two finish at best.

Howard: If only they could play NC A&T every night. Howard put up 105 points against the Aggies, its second highest output of the season. What was Howard’s biggest output you ask? A 107-70 win over you guessed it, NC A&T. In that game, Howard’s Ron Williamson scored 52 points. In Howard’s latest win over the Aggies, Williamson scored 39 points. In Howard’s past six games, Williamson is averaging 34 points a game. Can you say MEAC MVP?

Florida A&M: If the Rattlers can win one of their final three games, FAMU would have its first winning record in a decade. But while a winning record is nice, lets not forget the Rattlers reached the NCAA Tournament in 1999 with a losing record.

Norfolk State: Ryan Grier and Chakowby Hicks scored 17 points a piece for the Spartans on Monday against FAMU. The Spartans next take on SC State on Saturday.

Morgan State, Bethune Cookman, MD Eastern Shore: If not for NC A&T, these three teams would be battling for last in the MEAC. How valuable those Aggies can be. Even though neither of these teams will finish in the cellar, they don’t want to be the team that finished right above the Aggies, either.

Player of the Week

This one is a no brainer. Howard’s Ron Williamson scorched NC A&T for 39 points on Monday and had 29 points in a loss to SC State on Saturday.

Game to Watch

The MEAC game of the year tips-off March 3 when Hampton hosts SC State. The Pirates will be looking to avenge a 77-69 loss to the Bulldogs suffered in January. The winner could very well be the MEAC regular season champion.

     

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