Leaders emerging in black college hoops
'Houston! we have some leaders.'
As the college basketball season gets to the end of January, teams are starting to emerge and separate themselves in the black college ranks.
After leading Alabama State to two SWAC titles and NCAA appearances, Ron Spivery is on the verge of working that same magic for his new team, the Jaguars of Southern.
Southern (8-10, 7-1), whose only loss in conference play was 70-64 at MVSU, beat defending champion Alabama A&M and Spivery's former team, Alabama State, this past week. The Jaguars, who are being led by Chris Alexander's 15.7 points per game, host Alcorn State (4-13, 4-4) Saturday.
MVSU (6-10, 6-1), under new head coach James Green, is keeping pace with the Jags. The Delta Devils swept SWAC Texas opponents Texas Southern and Prairie View last week and host Jackson State (8-11, 4-3) Saturday and Grambling State (7-7, 5-2) on Monday, teams right behind them in the standings.
Southern and MVSU are also atop the women's standings. Sandy Pugh's Lady Jags (10-7, 7-1) dropped their first conference game Monday, 57-51 to Alabama State but still lead MVSU by a game-and-a half. Senior guard Rolanda Monroe (17.8 ppg.) leads the Lady Jags who'll be playing on the undercard of the Alcorn State game Saturday.
Nathaniel Kilbert's Delta Devilettes (9-7, 5-2) are in second place and have losses to Alabama A&M and Southern.
Greg Jackson's defending champion Hornets of Delaware State (9-10, 7-0) are methodically marching through the MEAC and have opened up a one-and-a-half game lead on Florida A&M (10-9, 6-2). The two will meet Saturday at 4 p.m. in a showdown of sorts in Dover, Delaware.
DSU has won six of its seven conference games by single-digits which is fine with Jackson.
"We don't have a whole lot of talent, but we have to play within the system," Jackson told the Virginian-Pilot after Monday's win over Norfolk State. "We have to play a certain way to win basketball games. If you look at our team and you look at Hampton or Norfolk, we don't have the same talent, but we get it done." Forward Jahsha Bluntt is the team's scoring (14 ppg.) and rebounding (4.8 rpg.) leader.
Mike Gillespie has the FAMU Rattlers (10-9, 6-2) playing well and in second place. They are led by scoring guard Tony Tate (16.5 ppg.) After a brutal non-conference schedule Ron "Fang" Mitchell has his young Coppin State (5-13, 5-2) squad, with no seniors and just three juniors, in third place. Sophomore swing man Tywain McKee (14.6 ppg.) has been one of the young stars of the season.
Hampton (6-9, 4-3) and South Carolina State (5-12, 3-4), preseason favorites along with Delaware State, have faltered while battling injuries and chemistry problems.
On the women's side, Derek Carter's
Lady Eagles of Coppin State (8-8, 7-0) have picked up where they
left off after winning last year's title running off seven straight wins, most of them
by double digits, to seize the conference lead by three games over five
teams. Sherrie Tucker is pacing a balanced Lady Eagle attack getting 13.1 ppg.
Virginia Union (12-2, 3-0) has swingmen Darius Hargrove (16.9 ppg.) and Duan Crockett (16.8 ppg.) off last year's CIAA and Div. II men's national championship team. The Panthers are distancing themselves from their likely competitor in the East, Bowie State (12-6, 1-1) who has already dropped a division game to Shaw (2-14, 1-2). VUU and BSU met on Tuesday night.
J. C. Smith (13-3, 2-0) avenged an early loss to VUU and sits atop the
West Division. Winston-Salem State (10-5, 2-0) and
St. Augustine's (11-3, 2-1) look to be the Golden Bulls' main
competition. JCSU met St. Aug's Tuesday night in Raleigh. JC Smith and WSSU
meet Saturday night in Winston-Salem.
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