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MEAC Preview

November 10, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Mideastern Athletic Conference Preview

by Joaquin Mesa

While taking a shower I noticed something, I’m not black. Now, this might come as a surprise to some of you because I am writing the conference preview for the MEAC, which is chock full of traditionally black colleges and universities. Don’t fret, I’m not going to bias myself at all. I am a respectable journalist who stakes his reputation on the fact that I will provide a sophisticated and detailed look at the top teams in the MEAC this year.

Now, I was enjoying some chips and salsa while watching some telenovelas when I thought to myself, what better way to get to know the psyche of an African-American college basketball player then to reacquaint myself with my own heritage and culture. So, off I went to the adoption agency to figure out what the heck my mother was. When I found out my mother was Polish, I decided to learn more about my father’s side of the family. As I soon found out, being Mexican is more then speaking Spanish and loving soccer. There was also a basketball aspect to it. No, it wasn’t a simple fascination with Eduardo Najera, it was deeper. Apparently, the Aztecs would play a sport called Tachtli, which was a combination of soccer and basketball. Instead of a hoop, there was a vertical ring, and instead of a losing team, there was a bunch of dead guys that were offered up to the Gods.

Perhaps this is where I got my love for the game; perhaps this is where I fostered my competitive spirit. One thing is for sure, I’m glad I didn’t live in that time or I would have been offered up to the Gods before I turned thirteen.

I jest because I know that being black doesn’t guarantee success on the basketball floor just like being Mexican doesn’t mean I enjoy Bandera music and roach coach burritos, and nothing speaks louder then the lack of success by this conference. Last year, the conference champion South Carolina lost its tournament game to Oklahoma, a game where no Bulldog other then a starter really put a dent in the scoreboard. This year might be the year that a Hampton or a Florida A&M makes a stand and finally wins the battle of the boards in the tournament. Notice that I’m not getting ahead of myself and saying the game. Only time will tell, so let me kill some of it by filling you in on the conference blokes and jokes.

All Conference Team
PG – Tee Trotter, Maryland-Eastern Shore
SG – Terrence Woods, Florida A&M
SF – Jimmy Boykin, Coppin State
PF – Thurman Zimmerman, South Carolina State
C – Pape Ba, Bethune-Cookman

This team is experienced, road-tested and ready to prove that this conference is better then the collective 31-89 record it had out of conference. Now, this might seem like a little bit of a stretch for a team with only one interesting name on it (Pape Ba), but these guys are tough. Four seniors and one junior round out this hard working bunch, and Terrence Woods has led the nation in pretty much every three point category possible. This guy is absolutely unstoppable, and anyone who averages twenty points in Division 1 is okay in my book. Look for him to break many more records, and lead his team to a championship.

Conference MVP: Terrence Woods, Florida A&M

Yes, it’s true. Sometimes big men have to take second fiddle to those who throw up the bombs.

Freshman of the Year: Brandon Streeter, Hampton

If a big man isn’t going to win the MVP, he might as well win something.

Most Improved Player: Frank Russell, Hampton

This 6-11 monster is going up against a bunch of guys that can’t even see eye to eye to him. Its only a matter of time before he understands that all he has to do is reach his arm out and dunk it over other players.

1. Florida A&M Rattlers (17-12, 11-7, 5th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Moses White
G – Terrance Woods
SF – Demarcus Wilkins
F – O.J. Sumter
C – Michael Harper

This team must learn to not rely to heavily on Terrance Woods, who will probably be the bulk of the scoring on this team. They don’t have size, but they have the potential to score every single time down the court. Michael Harper is a JuCo transfer, and at 6-8 is undersized at the post, but this isn’t going to hurt him in conference games as there are only a few other people bigger than him. Wilkins, Woods and White have to dictate pace, and if they do this, the sky is the limit. Four starters return on this squad, not bad.

2. Hampton Pirates (19-11, 13-5, 3rd)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Donald Didlake
G – Jeff Granger
SF – Devin Green
F – David Johnson
C – Frank Russell

Two 6-11 sophomores are looking to have remarkable seasons. Frank Russell and Bruce Brown have all the potential in the world, but have yet to prove anything. What is stopping these giants from pounding bodies? Well, they are young, and since they are not in a big conference with eyes on them 24-7 they will have the chance to grow into worthy sophomores. Freshman Brandon Streeter will add size to a big team, and look for Devin Green to carry a lot of the scoring until they wise up and start pounding the post.

3. South Carolina State Bulldogs (20-11, 15-3, 1st)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Demeco Heath
G – Brandon Trapp
SF – Jermaine Cannon
F – Thurmann Zimmerman
C – Cory Seals

I would have picked the Bulldogs higher had not Moses Malone Jr. left to pursue other ventures. I’m not being sarcastic, he was a 16 points per game guy. This team has lost three of its top four scorers, but kept the one that mattered most. Thurmann Zimmerman is a body underneath, and he gets the rebounds where nobody else in the conference does. Not only that, he shoots 50% from the field. Put him with two capable backcourt teammates in Heath and Trapp and you have a team that can run with anybody (except teams in the major conferences). This team won the conference title last season, but has a road ahead of it. Good luck.

4. Howard Bison (13-17, 9-9, 7th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Louis Ford
G – Hekima Jackson
SF – Ronald Miller
F – Seye Aluko
C – James Wilkinson

The top two scorers on this team are history (Ron Williamson and Kyle Williams), but the team returns some promising big men in Seye Aluko and James Wilkinson. These two guys both scored just under ten points a game, and could get some serious rebounds if their teammates would only miss a few shots. What is unique about this team is that it is bringing in some talented guards in Will Grant, Darryl Hudson and Derek Mitchell. One of these guys should play his way into Hekima Jackson’s starting spot, no problem. While trying to get there, they should miss a few shots for the big men to grab. This team won’t be half bad come next season.

5. Delaware State Hornets (15-12, 13-5, 2nd)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Miles Davis
G – Carlos Hawkins
SF – Aaron Matthews
F – Terrance Hunter
C – Marques Gantt

This team also lost its top two scorers (Andre Matthews and James Bowen), but don’t give up you faithful Hornets. There is still hope, and he comes in the form of Fairfax High School star Jahsha Bluntt. Yes, the infamous Fairfax high school, where I learned to play soccer and wrecked havoc on those in my volleyball league. Only good can come of those Los Angelinos exported to other parts of this country. Look for Bluntt to make moves on someone’s starting position, maybe even center. Los Angelenos can do anything, we are that good. Well, this team is not fantastic, but they are not nearly as bad as some of the team coming after them which is why I have them in the middle of the pack. Also, their point guard is 5-5 . . . somebody get a high chair.

6. Norfolk State Spartans 14-15, 10-8, 6th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Derrick Smith
G – Chakowby Hicks
SF – Ryan Grier
F – Tynell Dunkley
C – Karandick Ogunride

This team didn’t have anybody over 2.6 assists per game last season. I know that this might seem normal in college, but when your biggest guy is 6-8, I hope that you have some sort of game to impress on other teams so as not to get trounced each and every time. Its true, Karandick Ogunride is only 6-8. Lucky for him that this conference boasts very little in size, but don’t say anything to them, it might embarrass. I must admit that I feel a bit of sympathy for the announcer for the Spartans. You try and say Chakowby Hicks, Tynell Dunkley and Karandick Ogunride three times fast. Tynell Dunkley has a great name though, and it will earn him a spot on the starting line-up as a freshman, along with his size and strength. These guys are going for a three-guard line-up, so bring your extra hands and feet to keep track of the scores in these games.

7. Coppin State Eagles (11-17, 11-7, 4th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Raheem Scott
G – Darron Bradley
SF – Jimmy Boykin
F – Chad Yates
C – Henry Colter

The big Deke Thompson transferred because he realized that the MEAC was, well, sub-par. However, he left a talented group of miscreants that rivals North Carolina A&T for futility. No, it’s not that bad. Nobody is as bad as North Carolina A&T. No, with promising big man Nick King coming off the bench as a freshman, only good things can happen in the state of Coppin. However, if King follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, he might only be here for one year. They also have one of the few 7 footers in the conference on their team in Henry Colter, who might actually score a few points. They get Chad Yates back from a season sitting out, and Jimmy Boykins will be their leader in scoring.

8. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (5-23, 5-13, 10th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Gregory Brown
G – Tee Trotter
SF – Aaron Wellington
F – Javes Wiggins
C – Jason Scott

This team has so much potential it is killing me that they are down here at the bottom of the conference. I so much want to have the stones to put them closer to the top. Five newcomers to the team are over 6-6, the other is 6-4. Two are 7 footers. They return forward Didier Socka who is 6-7. Combine this with a 20 points per game player in Tee Trotter and you have an amazing team, that could be the favorite for ‘most likely to make me feel stupid for not putting the in the top three or four’. These guys have so much potential, I might actually make the effort to watch one of their games, go figure.

9. Morgan State Bears (7-22, 6-12, 8th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Cedrick Barrow
G – Sam Brand
SF – Ronald Timus
F – Reginald Wingfield
C – Aaron Andrews

If you have read my other articles, you will know that I hate colleges and universities that don’t know how to promote their teams. Any Division I college team that does not have a functioning website is on my list of worthless school that should never be attended. Unfortunately, Morgan State is now on my list. Congratulations! Now is the time when you could not thank your mother and father because of your lack of a media medium. Better luck next year. I had a friend named Morgan once, she was a fox. That’s all I got folks. Lets all give thanks to the Morgan State Bears for making recruiting for their coaches that much harder. Well, we do know that Morgan State returns four of their top five scorers. Reginald Wingfield is apparently a proven scorer that was injured last year, but is ready to take on the mean MEAC this year. However, and I have to hold back the laughter as I say this, it might be the year for 6-5 center Aaron Andrews to really show his stuff. Tee-hee.

10. Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (8-22, 5-13, 9th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Markey Picard
G – O’Neal Carter
SF – Diondre Larmond
F – Michael Williams
C – Pape Ba

Pape Ba is the only guy worth anything on this team. I made the note that Preston Daniels is coming off the bench, and that he was a junior of note, but I take it back. He is only a JuCo on a losing team. This team lost its top two scorers, a trend in this league. Apparently it takes four years to become a threat when playing in the MEAC. Anyway, Pape Ba is going to be a monster. He only scored 10 points a game last year, but grabbed 6.7 rebounds. Its now his turn to lead the team.

11. North Carolina A&T Aggies (1-26, 1-17, 11th)

Projected Starting Five:
G – Tyrone Green
G – Steven Koger
SF – Joe Holmes
F – Chris Ferguson
C – Abraham Traore

I really don’t want to say anything about these guys. My mother always taught me that if I had nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Well, I can always speak the truth. Last year, they won a game. That’s right, a game, one solitary game. They were one of two teams not to win a game outside of conference. They do boast a 6-11 starting center, Abraham Traore, who weighs in at 265 pounds, but then, he is no Shaq, and North Carolina A&T is no LSU. They did get a good recruit in Sean Booker who might add a little bit of flare to their transition game, but don’t expect too much, it won’t ease the pain.

Wrap-up

I really don’t mean to be so mean. There are a lot of positives in this conference. There is the definite possibility that one of these teams could beat a UCLA or a Utah. But, they have to get ranked higher then 16th in the conference tourney to do that because the teams that they can beat are ranked no higher then 10th. Florida A&M does have a good squad though, and if they make it to the tourney, I will be there to root them on.

     

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