Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
New head of WNBA warms to idea of scouting HBCUs more
Back on June 24, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurel Ritchie, the first African-American president of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) . I had promised myself that aside the predictable questions like how does it feel to be the first woman of color to run the women’s pro hoop league , I also ran an idea by her about doing more scouting of the women’s cage programs at the historically black colleges and universities.
Before I went to meet her at Atlanta’s Philips Arena, I checked the rosters of the WNBA teams and sadly, none of the players were from HBCUs.
“That’s a great suggestion,” she said during a half-hour talk. “One of the amazing things is that over 75% of our players are African-American. I think we need to tap into the entire college market because that’s the pipeline for the league. I am open to any opportunity that helps us identify the next generation of WNBA women.”
The Commissioner of the SIAC, Greg Moore, says he has been assured by Atlanta school system officials that the massive $10 million renovation to Lakewood Stadium will be completed in time to host the first SIAC championship football game. The 40 year old high school venue is an excellent location for the inaugural event.
Moore also says response to the conference’s new east-west alignment has been largely positive.
“”Some of the coaches don’t like it,” said Moore, who begins his third season as commish. “But the alignment does afford the schools an opportunity to reach out and play schools outside the conference.”
One school seemingly taking advantage of that is Fort Valley State. Donald Pittman’s Wildcats are facing one of the toughest slates in school history. They open on the road against Florida A&M September 3, return home to face Delta State on the 10th before settling into a four game conference schedule then back on the road against razor-sharp Bethune-Cookman and then ending the season against arch-rival Albany State…..Wow!
I’m sworn to secrecy but I’m told that a national notable will be chairing the planning committee for the first SIAC championship game. More when the gag order is lifted….
Even with Valley’s crushing schedule, they still have a good shot at winning the conferences eastern division which makes me wonder why the forescasters are already saying Tuskegee and Albany State will be the teams in the first championship game.
Notwithstanding Valley, Morehouse has a good shot at finishing atop the standings as well. Rich Freeman is returning several starters offensively and defensively from last year and many of those men, including gainer David Carter, linebacker Charlie Wilson, wide receiver Derrick Hector, quarterback Byron Ingram and free safeties Darius Williams and Justin Oliver were responsible for getting the ‘House into the playoffs for the first time in school history……
Meanwhile, CAU head coach Daryl McNeil is leading the Panthers to the 2011 gridiron with new coaches, a healthy recruiting year and a good attitude. .
“ We had 30-35 kids working out during the winter. They are doing all they can not to fail.. The seniors are reminding the underclassmen that there is no “I” in team. You have to be purposeful and take care of yourself.”
The former Atlanta Xplosion .now the Atlanta Ravens, apparently profited well from their name change, new ownership and new coaching staff. The all-woman tackle footballers captured the 2011 national championship of the 50-plus team Independent Women’s football League. The Ravens defeated the California Quake 24-22. This is the second time that the women have taken a national crown and the only so called professional franchise in the city to win dual titles………….
LC Cole and his brother Johnnie, deposed from their spots at Stillman and Texas Southern respectively, have landed on their feet. They are reportedly both on the staff of Shepherd Skanes at Concordia College in Selma, Alabama……..