Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Why the SIAC is returning its hoop tourney to Birmingham
ATLANTA- I suppose many of you are wondering why the SIAC has decided to return their annual basketball tournament to Birmingham Alabama. I thought about this too, especially since I was one of the members of the 4th estate who argued for moving the tourney anywhere but there. I covered the tournament there for three years, saw few local media paying any attention (the black press excepted). Crowds were low or non-existent, Fair Park Arena, the venue for the tournament was little better than a dump and it seemed folks outside the former steel town didn’t want to travel there.
Well, apparently some of that has changed. The city‘s Bill Harris Arena, part of Birmingham’s Crossplex athletic facility which is light-years moré impressive than Fair Park, is the venue for the tournament. Reading some on-line information about Crossplex, there appear to be plans for expansion to hotels, restaurants and shops to be built on the grounds of the facility.
The SIAC’s council of presidents, which had to sign off on the 3 year deal to move, might also have been looking at the hole left in Birmingham’s athletic activity calendar for this year and 2014 after the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) decided to move its hoop tourney and football championship game to Houston Texas. It is also no secret that the SIAC hasn’t been pleased with the response the city of Atlanta has given to the basketball tournament the last few years it been here and they also aren’t smiling over the support given the conference from the ATL to the SIAC football championship game either (so don’t be surprised if the next announcement you hear is that the 2014 grid mix will be taking its shoulder pad, helmets, cleats and footballs to the Magic City as well). Birmingham has been working overtime to bring more sporting activities to the city over the years, even to the point of luring the SWAC away from its former New Orleans domicile some years ago with lavish promises of free office space for the SWAC offices and use of Legion Field for their championship contest free of charge. You can also bet your last dollar that the SIAC is profiting from this move in more ways than one……..Birmingham officialdom is reportedly most generous about these things…..
THE SIAC: Last week was a disappointing one for CAU and Morehouse, who dropped their homecoming games. The most disappointed, perhaps, was Morehouse who suffered a 29-26 loss to the 4-4 Benedict Tigers on an eleventh hour 32 yard field goal with 31 seconds to go before 19,345 heavily partisan fans at BT Harvey Stadium. Morehouse took a slim 10-9 lead into the locker room at the half. By quarter four, the score was tied at 19-19 but a fumble forced by Morehouse gave the Marooners the oval at the Benedict 25. Five plays later, senior Thomas “TJ” Williams scored on a nine yard run to give Morehouse a26-19 lead. Benedict then returned the oval the other way through five plays of its own to tie the game at 26 apiece. Then with Morehouse unable to move the oval past the 50 on their possession, Benedict took over on downs and used 16 plays to get to the Morehouse 4. Unable to punch through six points on three tries from the Morehouse four, Benedict sophomore Edurado Fernandez punched in the winning three points. Morehouse had the last word on possession but couldn’t get it past their own 18 yard line before time ran out. Benedict takes on SIAC east leader Albany State this weekend in Albany Georgia and must defeat the Rams to get a shot at first place and a possible trip to the conference championship in Atlanta.
Clark-AU meanwhile was taking on the Golden Rams about two blocks away and at the same time of the Morehouse tilt but having a much tougher mix with the conference leader. In fact, the Panthers failed to convert one first down in the first half and gave up three scores to their visitors, allowing them to take a 17-0 lead in the locker room. The Rams extended their lead in the second half and up until the 2:48 mark of the fourth quarter, led 30-0. The Panthers came perilously close to suffering their second shutout in two games until an Albany State turnover on a muffled punt gave the Panthers four fresh downs at the Albany 20, They used that to their advantage with five plays to score their only touchdown of the game on a five yard run by true freshman Montavious Taylor who led Panther rushing with 11 carries and 45 yards. Albany State was led by junior quarterback Frank Rivers, a transfer this year from Grambling. He passed for 112 yards and one score which pales his performance a fortnight ago against Morehouse when he threw for 192 yards and five scores. “ I give myself a C- ( on the CAU win), “ he told INSIDE after the game. “ We left too many points on the field.” As for his decision to leave troubled Grambling and transfer to ASU, he said it was one of his better decisions. “I feel at home here,” he said. “ The coaches really sold me on ASU. They made me feel at home when I talked to them and visited the school.” Albany moved into first place in the SIAC east through the Clark-AU win, moving Fort Valley out of the top spot.
ELSEWHERE IN THE SIAC: Fort Valley had an easy time at their homecoming game beating 1-7 Concordia –Selma 52-19 and avoiding a fourth straight loss……In a rare Thursday night game, Miles got a three touchdown game from senior David Thomas and defeated Lane 38-26…..A missed two point conversion cost Central State its third straight win as they fell 35-33 to Stillman……SIAC leader Tuskegee had an easy time with Kentucky State, beating the Thorobreds 36-7…: …….
XTRA POINTS: Last weekend’s Magic City Classic between Alabama A&M and Alabama State put 63,000 butts in seats at 70,000 Legion Field. That attendance figure is the rule rather than the exception but I did notice the local press harping about the 72 year old game never being able to fully fill Legion, located smack dab in the middle of the “hood.” But the organizers apparently aren’t phased by that. They and the city of Birmingham are crying about the 7000 seats not sold all the way to the bank!!! The game could have been more competitive, however. The 6-2 Hornets defeated the 2-6 Bulldogs 31-7. Reggie Barlow’s stingers are second in the SWAC east behind division leader Jackson State while Anthony Jones’ Dawgs are fourth . It’s not surprising though. Jones is rebuilding. When 45 of your 82 player roster is freshman and sophomore, what can you expect?....INSIDE got to speak with former Grambling quarterback Frank Rivers who is now barking signals for Albany State. He says the decision to trnasfer was a good one for him.” The players and the coaches made me feel at home. The move was comfortable.” INSIDERS say Rivers, a junior, stood snowball in hell’s chance of winning the starting job at Grambling away from Doug “DJ” Williams and decided to bolt from Louisiana to Albany, not far from his native Birmingham, Alabama…. Speaking of Grambling, INSIDERS are also telling us that it was the influence of one time Grambling and successful Fort Valley State Head Coach Doug Porter that helped move the players to end their boycott and return to practice. Doug moved back to Lousiana after retiring and can be seen on the Grambling sidelines at most of the games…
THIS WEEK’S SIAC GAMES AND PICKS
Tuskegee over Central State (Tuskegee homecoming)
Lane over Kentucky State
Miles over Stillman
CAU over Shorter
Fort Valley over Morehouse
Albany State over Benedict
Last week won –loss:5-1
Got an item? Contact Hal -> hallamar at comcast.net