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MEAC 2002-03 Season Recap

June 9, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Mideastern Athletic Conference 2002-03 Season Recap

by Michael Protos

The teams of the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference claimed the second most futile RPI ranking of the 31 NCAA Division I conferences. The eleven teams combined for a winning percentage of .4287. Only the Southwestern Athletic Conference finished lower on the RPI scales.

Despite the conference’s lack of comparative success, competition within the division was often intense, especially at the top. South Carolina State (15-3, 20-10) claimed the conference’s regular season title and stormed through the conference tournament to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs ousted the Hampton Pirates from the top of the conference. But Hampton finished close behind South Carolina State, tied with Delaware State at 13-5.

At the other end of the spectrum, North Carolina A&T made headlines this season for its utter futility. The Aggies started the season with 24 losses and finished the season with a single victory. Norfolk State bears the ignominy of being the Aggies’ only victory in the 2002-03 season. A two-point, home loss to Division III’s North Carolina Central perhaps best epitomizes the embarrassment that was the Aggies’ season. The good news is that A&T can only improve and the Aggies only lose one key player. Better luck next year!

MEAC Season Awards


Terrence Woods, Florida A&M

Junior guard Terrence Woods led the Rattlers all season and averaged 20.5 points per game. A close second is Howard’s senior guard Ron Williamson, who averaged 21.7 points per game. Woods take the most valuable player award because he is one of only two players on Florida A&M to average double-digits and the second leading scorer averaged seven fewer points per game. That’s the definition of a team’s most valuable player. Williamson had stronger support this season at Howard.

MEAC Rookie of the Year:

Tyrone Green, North Carolina A&T

Green provided most of A&T’s few positive memories this past season. He led the team with 13.2 points per game and 2.9 assists per game. Because the Aggies lack upperclassmen leadership, Green will have ample opportunity to become one of the dominant players of the conference.

MEAC Coach of the Year:

Cy Alexander, South Carolina State

Cy Alexander carried the Bulldogs to a division championship and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, in which the Bulldogs fought with top-seeded Oklahoma before succumbing to the more talented, major-conference foe. For Alexander’s success, he was offered a job at Tennessee State to clean up the mess left behind by Nolan Richardson III.

MEAC Conference Tournament:

Top-seeded South Carolina State won the MEAC conference tournament to complete a season of mastery over the rest of the conference. There were few surprises in the tournament, although No. 7-seeded Howard slipped past No. 2-seeded Delaware State in overtime in the quarterfinals to provide the most noteworthy upset. South Carolina State defeated No. 3-seeded Hampton 72-67 in the conference championship to earn an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.

MEAC All-Conference Team:
Terrence Woods, guard, Florida A&M
Ron Williamson, guard, Howard
Thurman Zimmerman, guard, South Carolina State
Larry Tucker, forward, Coppin State
Richard Toussaint, forward, Bethune-Cookman

NCAA Tournament

No. 16 (East) South Carolina State:
First round: Lost to No. 1 Oklahoma 71-54

South Carolina State Bulldogs 15-3 (20-10)

Key players leaving: 3
senior guard Dustin Braddick (13.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
senior forward Charles Gilmore (6.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
senior guard Moses Malone Jr. (16.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg)

Key players returning: 4
sophomore guard Thurman Zimmerman
sophomore guard Demeco Heath
sophomore guard Clary Judge
freshman forward Dakin Braddick

Coach: Benjamin Betts Jr. replaces Cy Alexander who went to Tennessee State to replace Nolan Richardson III

Scoring leaders: Moses Malone Jr. and Thurman Zimmerman – 16.0 ppg
Rebound leader: Zimmerman – 7.6 rpg
Assist leader: Demeco Heath – 2.0

The Bulldogs entered the MEAC conference 2-7 with no superb wins to brag about. But the MEAC quickly learned that South Carolina State would be the team to beat to compete for the conference title. The Bulldogs defeated Hampton three times in one season to legitimize their spot atop the MEAC. Moses Malone Jr. moves on this year but fellow leading scorer Thurman Zimmerman returns next season to defend the Bulldogs’ title.

Hampton Pirates 13-5 (19-11)

Key players leaving: 3
senior guard Barry Hairston (14.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
senior guard Mackel Purvis (11.0 ppg)
senior guard Isaac Jefferson (6.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.9 apg)

Key players returning: 3
sophomore guard Devin Green
junior forward David Johnson
freshman guard Jeff Granger

Coach: Bobby Collins

Scoring leader: Devin Green – 14.0 ppg
Rebound leader: Isaac Jefferson – 7.2 rpg
Assist leader: Jefferson – 4.9 apg

Hampton fared well this past season but failed to repeat as conference champions. The highlight of the Pirates’ season was beating Richmond early in the season, en route to a 4-0 start. Seniors Barry Hairston, Mackel Purvis and Isaac Jefferson propelled Hampton into the tournament championship game against South Carolina State, but the Pirates fell five points short of the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Delaware State Hornets 13-5 (15-12)

Key players leaving: 1
Left team:
senior forward Sergey Stephanenkov left after three games to go home to his wife in Russia and to pursue a professional career in Russia

Key players returning: 6
Junior forward Andre Matthews
sophomore guard Miles Davis
junior guard James Bowen
junior forward Aaron Matthews
sophomore forward Terrance Hunter
sophomore guard Carlos Hawkins

Coach: Greg Jackson

Scoring leader: Andre Matthews – 12.9 ppg
Rebound leader: Matthews – 6.4 rpg
Assist leader: Miles Davis – 3.1 apg

After losing three straight conference games, the Hornets won ten of their last twelve conference games to finish tied with Hampton for second. Delaware State’s strong season ended in disappointment when Howard upset the Hornets in the MEAC tournament quarterfinals.

Florida A&M Rattlers 11-7 (17-12)

Key players leaving: 2
Graduating: senior center Jermaine Hill (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
senior guard Michael Griffith (7.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg)

Key players returning: 5
junior guard Terrence Woods
junior guard Demarcus Wilkins
junior guard Moses White
sophomore forward Michael Ayodele
junior forward O.J. Sumter

Coach: Mike Gillespie

Scoring leader: Terrence Woods – 20.5 ppg
Rebound leader: Jermaine Hill – 6.4 rpg
Assist leader: Moses White – 3.5 apg

Florida A&M ended the season by winning seven of nine games. Junior Terrence Woods averaged more than 20 points a game this season and should provide plenty of excitement for a team returning five crucial players. The Rattlers benefited from four games against ranked opponents. Those teams lit up the Rattlers for an average of 93 points, but Florida A&M learned from their defensive failures. In 2003, the Rattlers allowed only Hampton to score more than 80 points.

Coppin State Eagles 11-7 (11-17)

Key players leaving: 1
senior forward Larry Tucker (15.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg)

Key players returning: 6
junior center Jimmy Boykin
freshman guard Raheem Scott
freshman guard Deke Thompson
freshman forward Darron Bradley
sophomore guard Darryl Jones
sophomore forward Henry Colter

Coach: Ron Mitchell

Scoring leader: Larry Tucker – 15.3 ppg
Rebound leader: Tucker – 5.6 rpg
Assist leader: Raheem Scott – 3.4 apg

Coppin State prepared for the conference season with a brutal non-conference schedule that included visits to Marquette, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oregon State and Illinois. Needless to say, the Eagles lost each contest, although played close against Ohio State and Oregon State. The early challenges seasoned the young Eagles who finished 11-7 in MEAC play. Senior Larry Tucker led the way on a young team that will hope to build on this season’s success.

Norfolk State Spartans 10-8 (14-15)

Key players leaving: 2
senior center Thomas Aladi (2.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
senior Daryl Towe (10.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg)

Key players returning: 5
sophomore guard Chakowby Hicks
sophomore guard Ryan Grier
junior guard Derrick Smith
junior guard Nicholas Byrd
freshman forward Ricky Woods

Coach: Dwight Freeman

Scoring leader: Chakowby Hicks – 11.3 ppg
Rebound leader: Thomas Aladi – 4.4 rpg
Assist leader: Hicks – 2.6 apg

Norfolk State appeared to be a legitimate challenger for the conference title when it rattled off five consecutive wins in January. But the Spartans slipped on the road toward the end of the season and fell out of contention. Their balanced attack forced opponents to be ready for any given starter to be the main contributor. Chakowby Hicks led the team with a meager 11.3 points per game, highlighting the team’s success in balance rather than a single dominant player.

Howard Bison 9-9 (13-17)

Key players leaving: 3
senior guard Ron Williamson (21.7 ppg)
senior guard Kyle Williams (15.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
senior forward Mario Grove (7.0, 5.2 rpg)

Key players returning: 3
junior forward Seye Aluko
freshman guard Louis Ford
sophomore forward Mac Wilkerson

Coach: Frankie Allen

Scoring leader: Ron Williamson – 21.7 ppg
Rebound leader: Seye Aluko – 7.0 rpg
Assist leader: Louis Ford – 5.0 apg

The Bison should be pleased with the results of this season. Senior guard Ron Williamson tore apart competition to win the MEAC scoring title, averaging 21.7 points per game. The Bison beat Oral Roberts in non-conference play, which is a team that at the time appeared to ready challenge Valparaiso in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Bison also challenged California and College of Charleston. In conference play, the Bison fared well and upset Delaware State in the conference tournament before losing to Hampton in the semifinals.

Morgan State Bears 6-12 (7-22)

Key players leaving: 1
senior forward Douglas Sims (6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg)

Key players returning: 6
junior guard Randy Dukes
sophomore guard Sam Brand
junior center Aaron Andrews
junior guard Cedrick Barrow
freshman guard Ronald Timus
sophomore forward Evan Pellerin

Coach: Butch Beard

Scoring leader: Randy Dukes – 14.9 ppg
Rebound leader: Aaron Andews – 7.3 rpg
Assist leader: Cedrick Barrow – 3.5 apg

Morgan State scattered seven victories over last season, submitting a typical result for a second-tier team in a third-tier conference. But the Bears may be heading toward the first-tier within the MEAC as they lose only one player and showed sparks of future success in a home victory over Delaware State.

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 5-13 (8-22)

Key players leaving: 2
senior forward Richard Toussaint (18.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
senior guard Maurice Riddick (15.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg)

Key players returning: 5
junior forward Diondre Larmond
junior center Pape Ba
freshman forward Michael Williams
sophomore guard O’Neal Carter
junior guard Kiki Picard

Coach: Clifford Reed

Scoring leader: Richard Toussaint – 18.2 ppg
Rebound leader: Pape Ba – 6.8 rpg
Assist leader: O’Neal Carter – 2.9 apg

Credit the Wildcats with taking on one of the more challenging schedules of MEAC teams. Bethune-Cookman traveled to Minnesota, Florida and Wake Forest, all of whom repeatedly bludgeoned the overmatched Wildcats. But the experience prepared senior forward Richard Toussaint for a positive final run through MEAC competition. He averaged 18.2 points a game this season. Although the Wildcats lose their top two scorers, they have a wealth of experienced players that provide the hope for a higher finish next year.

Maryland – Eastern Shore Hawks 5-13 (5-23)

Key players leaving: 1
senior forward Ali Trotman (2.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg)

Key players returning: 5
junior guard Tee Trotter
freshman guard Aaron Wellington
junior forward Javes Wiggins
junior forward Didier Socka
junior guard Antoine Joiner

Coach: Thomas Trotter

Scoring leader: Tee Trotter – 20.5 ppg
Rebound leader: Javes Wiggins – 5.1 rpg
Assist leader: Trotter – 3.1 apg

The Hawks failed to win a non-conference game, but did manage to win five conference games to finish second from the bottom. Despite their poor finish, the Hawks featured one of the MEAC’s most prolific scorer in Tee Trotter, who will be back for an encore next year in his senior year.

North Carolina A&T Aggies 1-17 (1-26)

Key players leaving: 1
senior guard Landon Beckwith (12.1 ppg)

Key players returning: 5
freshman guard Tyrone Green
junior forward Chris Ferguson
freshman guard Steven Koger
freshman guard William Howard
freshman guard Michael Kirkpatrick

Coach: Jerry Eaves replaces Curtis Hunter

Scoring leader: Tyrone Green – 13.2 ppg
Rebound leader: Chris Ferguson – 8.1 rpg
Assist leader: Green – 2.9 apg

It’s hard to reconcile a 1-26 season. The Aggies lost to just about the entire world this past season. Their lone victory was a two-point upset at Norfolk State. Bet they feel embarrassed. The good news is that North Carolina A&T only loses one player who played significant minutes this past season. So they have chemistry and more experience. The bad news is that they were flat out bad last year. Good luck to new coach Jerry Eaves.


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