Monday, January 30, 2017

Battle Between Atlanta University Center Neighbors Clark Atlanta and Morehouse To Be Pivotal SIAC East Mens Hoops Game Monday

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

An Atlanta rivalry tonight will also be an important men's basketball game in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Clark Atlanta (12-8, 6-3 SIAC) hosts Morehouse (11-6, 5-4 SIAC) in a battle of schools located just a few feet from each other.  That's ironic as only one game separates the two in the SIAC East Division race.

A Morehouse win could create a third-place tie between them and CAU, though Fort Valley State (9-11, 7-4 SIAC) would need to lose to Miles (4-13, 4-4 SIAC) tonight in Birmingham, Ala.   Otherwise the Atlanta schools would be a half-game behind FVSU. Benedict is in first half Claflin is second. One game separates them.

But that's only if Morehouse wins.  The Maroon Tigers are 3-0 in divisional play and have won four of their last five games.  The one loss was a huge hiccup against cellar-dweller Spring Hill (4-17, 3-7 SIAC) nine days ago.  They are led by guard Tyrius Walker who averages 15.5 points per game and is among the league leaders in assists, points and free-throw percentage.

While Morehouse is a high-scoring team, their 76.8 points per game (fourth in the SIAC) is a notch behind Clark Atlanta and their 76.9 points per game.

Tim Sanders (14.8 ppg) and Derek Harper (12.7 ppg) lead a CAU team that has five, nearly six, players averaging double-digit points a game.  The Panthers are also the better rebounding team so far this season.

A missed last second shot at first place Benedict (11-8, 8-2 SIAC) was all that kept CAU from extending their three-game winning streak to four on Saturday.

But the big deal Monday is this is a battle between neighboring schools that look to beat each other in the biggest basketball game for each school every year.  It's the first of two contests, with Morehouse hosting CAU, ironically, the day before Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Men's and Women's HBCU Basketball Preview - Southwestern Athletic Conference

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

It's the beginning of January and with the pigskin being stored away in football stadiums across HBCU campuses, it's time to turn to the basketball court as the 2016-17 men's and women's HBCU hoops season kicks into high gear.

With conference schedules now becoming the focus, we at ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT want to give you a good primer on what to look at across the country in men's and women's black college/university basketball.

We start today in the Southwestern Athletic Conference:

MEN

- Alabama A&M went into January 0-12, the only close loss being to the Ohio Valley Conference's Tennessee Tech.  The Bulldogs have struggled to score so far, with the SWAC's low of 57.9 points per game, and are struggling on defense, giving up 83 points per game.  Quinterian McConico has led them in scoring with 11.4 points per game and 7.3 points a game, while De'Edrick Petty has added ten points a contest.

- Alabama State has had problems scoring so far this season.  They have the SWAC's lowest field shooting and second-worst 3-point shooting percentage so far in 2016-17.  Junior Rodney Simeon has been a bright spot, averaging 11.5 points per game and ranking third in the SWAC in 3-pointers.  Tony Armstrong has also been steady, 11.2 points and seven rebounds a game.  The Hornets have won two of their last three, defeating Fort Valley State and Grambling.

- Alcorn State nearly pulled off an early season upset, losing by just a bucket to SWAC power Texas Southern on Jan. 2.  Though they started 3-9, ASU has played a bunch of big to medium sized schools to ready for the SWAC season.  They've scored 64 points a game and rank second in the SWAC in defensive scoring.  They also pound the offensive boards, ranking second in the conference in that area. Reginal Johnson has led them offensively with 15 points a game while averaging 7.5 rebounds a game.  He's also hitting 51 percent of his shots. Marquis Vance has done the hardwork inside, averaging eight rebounds a game.

- Arkansas-Pine Bluff started the year 2-12, beating lowly Mississippi Valley State and Eccelesia College in three overtimes.  But this is a team that isn't allowing teams to run up and down the court on them.  They are fourth in the SWAC in scoring defense (75.2 points per game) and second in defensive field goal percentage (45 percent).  So defense isn't a problem.  Scoring is.  UAPB averages just 60 points a game, second worst in the SWAC.  Ghiavanni Robinson has led them in scoring with 11.4 points a game, but he is the only person on their squad averaging double-digit points.

- Grambling picked things up earlier this season after getting wiped out at Virginia, with two overtime losses, one to Miami (Oh), and a win over Tougaloo. They are third in scoring in the SWAC with 67 points a game, but are giving up nearly 80 points a game.  Ervin Mitchell has been a bright spot, as he has scored 15.5 points and grabbed 5.5 boards a game.  Remond Brown has chipped in 13 points and three boards a game while freshman Averyl Ugba has been one of the SWAC's top rebounders this season with 9.2 rebounds a game.

- Jackson State has proven to be the stingiest SWAC team so far, giving up just over 67 points a game.  The Tigers went 6-8 before January with some good wins over Drake and Southern Miss. Edric Dennis has been their big player, leading the SWAC with 17 points per game so far this season and with 2.9 3-pointers per game. Janarius Middleton has also been a beast on the boards as he averages eight boards a game. This is a team seen as one of the best in the conference this season.

- Mississippi Valley State has had little success for far this season, going 0-14 heading into January.  They have played some biggies (Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa State, West Virginia) and have given up at least 100 points for times this season - including 105 to Arkansas-Pine Bluff - which is why they are the bottom in defensive scoring and scoring margin in the SWAC. Defense is a problem for the Delta Devils. Issac Williams (11.5 points per game) and Rashaan Surles (10.4 points per game) have been their scoring leaders.  But this is a team that is hitting just 59 percent of their free throws.

- Prairie View A&M has had a tough beginning of the season, going 3-12 heading into the New Year.  They did defeat Fresno State and played SWAC power Southern tough, losing only by two.  A steady team that is a good scoring team and a middle of the pack defensive team, PVAM has been led by Zachary Hamilton (14.8 points, 3.7 rebounds per game).  He's one of the league's better 3-point shooters and has hit 77 percent of his free throws.

- Southern is part of what's seen as the one of the top three SWAC teams this season, along with Jackson State and Texas Southern.  At 5-9 heading into January, the Jaguars gave UAB fits, losing by one in overtime, and played tough at Nebraska. With easily the top scoring offense in the SWAC so far at 73 points a game, the Jags are led by Shawn Prudhomme (17 points a game), Jared Sam (13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds per game) and Trelun Banks (11.7 points a game).

- Texas Southern is poised again to be the best team in the SWAC this season. They had a hot start, winning four of their first five before running into a buzzsaw of teams that included Arizona, Louisville, Cincinnati, Louisville, LSU, Baylor and TCU.  Forward Derrick Griffin, last season's Player of the Year, averaging 11 points and ten rebounds a game.  But junior guard Zach Lofton, in his first year at TSU after being at two schools the previous two years, is leading the team with 16 points a game. Guard Dulani Robinson rounds out their new big three with ten points a game so far.

WOMEN

- Alabama A&M's first problem to solve is scoring.  They average a SWAC worst 46 points per game and have a minus-27.4-point scoring margin so far this season.  They've also made the fewest 3-point shots so far.  Their offense so far has come mainly from Jameica Cobb and her 16.2 points per game.  No other Bulldog is averaging double-digit points so far this season, so scoring will be a huge issue to fix.  Cobb has been stalwart on the boards, as she is third with 7.2 rebounds per game.

- Alabama State will be shooting for a third SWAC title.  But they started with a brutal early schedule - North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Southern Miss, Troy, Ohio State, Mississippi State and LSU.  They went 1-10 going into the start of January and fell to a good Grambling squad by 15.  But this is expected to be a much better team than that.   They have not kept pace scoring with their opponents so far, but they have been tough on the boards.  The Hornets are led by Britney Wright and her 12.2 points per game and six rebounds a game. Daniel Ewert (10 points per game) has also been solid so far.  This team is expected to gel and challenge for another SWAC title, though they have started slow.

- Alcorn State has had a tough go at things so far this year, going 0-12 to start the season.  The problem starts on defense where they give up 78 points per game.  The fewest they've allowed is 57 points to a strong Texas Southern in a 4-point loss a few days ago.  They rank at the bottom of the SWAC in most defensive categories - scoring defense, defensive field goal percentage (31.6 percent), defensive 3-point percentage (38.8 percent), and rebounding margin (-11 per game).   Their offense isn't much better as they average just 51 points per game.  Tia Sanders is their only double-digit scorer, averaging 11 points per game.  Miracle Rushing is one of the SWAC's better rebounders so far, grabbing seven boards a game.

- Arkansas-Pine Bluff has had one of the tougher early schedules of anyone in the SWAC having played Xavier, Cincinnati, Ball State, Illinois and Oregon State.   They lost to Mississippi Valley State to start the SWAC campaign. UAPB ranks in the middle of most offensive and defensive categories in the SWAC, although their rebounding isn't very good. Senior Niya Head leads them with 11.7 points per game while Destiny Brewton has chipped in 9.7 points a game so far.  This is a team that will need to turn their game up a notch to challenge the better teams in the conference.

- Grambling started 3-9, but they've won their last two games including a win over one of the SWACs top teams, Alabama State.   They haven't been the high scoring team that they were last season, though they have been one of the top defensive teams so far this year.  But this team is led by guards Shakyla Hill (16.1 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) and Jazmin Boyd (12.5 points per game). The Tigers also have gotten steady play from Jazmine Torian (8.5 points, 5.8 rebounds per game). This is a solid team that won't sneak up on anybody this year.

- Jackson State has started strong - as expected - this season with two three-game winning streaks already. They have the SWAC's top scoring offense (72.6 points per game) and sport the second-best scoring defensive team (68.5 ppg).  They make it hard for teams to hit field goals (only allowing teams to hit 36.5 percent of their field goals per game) and they pound the boards.  Derica Wiggins (12.1 ppg), Chelsey Causey (9 ppg, 7 rebounds a game, 84 percent free throw shooter) and Kiera Adams (1.4 blocks ppg) make this one tough team to beat this year - just as everyone expected.

- Mississippi Valley State went 4-8 to start 2016-17 and has a SWAC win already over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  The Delta Devils have been a good scoring team though a mediocre defensive team so far.  But they have the SWAC's leading scorer in Christina Reed. Reed has averaged 17.2 points per game and leads the SWAC in steals with 3.6 a game. Ashley Beals is also back and has averaged 11.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.  Lauren Elliott (8.7 ppg, 2.3 assists, 2.1 steals) has also been a significant contributor for this promising team. This is a team that can make some noise in the SWAC, depending on their defense.

- Prairie View A&M has gotten some quality wins already this season, defeating Marshall, Sam Houston State and Bethune-Cookman, although they fell to SWAC power Southern to start January. Despite losing their two leading scorers from last season, the Aggies can score (second in the SWAC in scoring and field goal percentage so far), are a strong rebounding team and can hit 3-pointers.  Defense is probably their weak link, as they give up 75 points per game.  Alexis Parker (15.3 points a game) and Tori Carter (14.6 per game) are fourth and fifth among SWAC scorers so far this season, with Jeronia Allen (12.7 ppg) and Dominique Newman (10.4 ppg) not far behind.  Watch this team.

- Southern may have started 3-6, but their schedule has included the likes of Michigan State, UCLA, Ohio State and Texas A&M.  The Jaguars are still expected to be one of the better teams in the SWAC.  They start with their leading scorer, Briana Green.  Green averages 14.6 points per game and six boards a game and she hits 47 percent of her shots. Cortnei Purnell has averaged ten points and six rebounds a game so far, while Skylar O'Bear is one of the SWAC leaders in 3-pointers a game. This is a strong Jaguars team that will contend for a title.

- Texas Southern has lived up to their billing as one of the Big Three in SWAC women's hoops with Alabama State and Southern.  They won four of their first five, with the one loss in overtime.  They lost three in a row, but to big schools Rice, TCU and SMU before beating Florida International and Alcorn State.  They play the stingiest defense in the SWAC so far, giving up just 58.9 points a game, nearly ten points a game better than second place Jackson State.  Joyce Kennerson (13.7 points per game) and Artavia Ford (12 ppg) lead this team in scoring, with Ford leading the conference in field goal percentage.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Grambling Claims ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT'S FCS HBCU Football National Championship; Final 2016 Top Ten Poll Released

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

2013 is a season that Grambling State University would like to forget.   They went through three coaches, went 1-11 and made national news as players boycotted practice and a game because of poor conditions of their facilities and long, uncomfortable bus trips to two away games of at least 1,200 miles each.

it was daunting chore for Broderick Fobbs when he was hired to bring stability to a program that was 1-10 in 2012.

"We were dealing with a fractured situation when we first got to Grambling State University.  It was just tough," Fobbs said Dec. 17 after his team defeated North Carolina Central in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.  "Our kids were broken.  They weren't very trusting of anyone. Who could blame them? They had had three coaches in one year. The look I got was a bunch of guys questioning - they didn't say this, but you you could see it on their faces - 'How long are you going to be here?'"

Fobbs accepted that challenge, restoring trust and pride in one of college football's most storied programs.  Now three years after going 1-11, Fobbs has led his Grambling State team to an 11-1 record and have been crowned the 2016 FCS HBCU National Champions in the ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT FCS HBCU Top Ten poll.

Only losing to FBS Pac-12 Arizona in a game they very well could have won, the Tigers rode a high-flying offense and a stiff defense and gashing running game they needed to defeat second-ranked North Carolina Central in the Celebration Bowl.  The winner was poised to claim the FCS HBCU national championship in most national polls.

"It's a pleasure to be the black college national champions and finish the year undefeated," Fobbs said.

The Celebration Bowl wrapped up a wild FCS HBCU football season where some of the traditional powers struggled this season (Florida A&M, South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman, Alcorn State) and others woke from deep doldrums to win some games (Savannah State,


Here is the entire season-ending 2016 ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT FCS HBCU Top Ten football poll:


FCS

1) Grambling (11-1, 9-0 SWAC)
2) North Carolina Central (9-3, 8-0 MEAC)
3) North Carolina A&T (9-3, 7-1 MEAC)
4) Southern (8-3, 8-1 SWAC)
5) Tennessee State (7-4, 4-3 OVC)
6) Prairie View A&M (7-4, 7-2 SWAC)
7) South Carolina State (5-6, 5-3 MEAC)
8) Alcorn State (5-6, 5-4 SWAC)
9) Hampton (5-6, 5-3 MEAC)
10) Bethune-Cookman (4-6, 4-4 MEAC)

TSU Falls to Duke 65-55 After Leading in the Second Half

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

One thing Duke head basketball coach Mike Kryzewski warned his team about was a game Tennessee State basketball team that would not be intimidated by his fourth-ranked Blue Devils or playing before a national television audience in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

He was right on both accounts.

Tennessee State trailed only by four at halftime and briefly led in the second half before two Duke runs ended the Tigers' threat as the Blue Devils downed TSU 65-55 Monday.

Luke Kennard led Duke (11-1) with 24 points with Jayson Tatum adding 14, including some big points that helped put TSU away.  Darron Redick and Tahjere McCall both had 14 to lead TSU (8-3).

The loss comes on the heels of an overtime loss to Duke's fellow ACC team, North Carolina State on Dec. 10.  The Tigers three losses this season have been to Duke, North Carolina State and Vanderbilt.

Kryzewski called Monday's game a tough one between two good defensive teams.

"They're a very good basketball team, they'll have a chance at winning their conference," Kryzewski said of TSU.  "I told our guys that this was the kind of opponent that you face in the NCAA Tournament -- old, really well-coached team, and they play defense and rebound -- in other words, the two things they do best are play defense and rebound.  So that's going to come every night.  I thought we did that tonight, or else we would have lost."

McCall's layup with 16:32 left in the second half gave TSU a 32-31 lead.  A Wayne Martin jumper kept the Tigers in front at 36-34 a minute later.

But Kennard hit two three-pointers and a lay-up during a 11-0 Duke run over the next four and a half minutes to put Duke up 47-36.  The Blue Devils extended their lead to 20 points - 59-39 - behind Tatum and Kennard with less than eight minutes left to salt away the win.

But it wasn't easy for Duke.  TSU held the Blue Devils to 28 percent shooting in the first half and 37 percent for the entire game. TSU also outscored Duke in the paint 32-18.

TSU head coach Dana Ford said the Tigers had some transition mix-ups in the second half, leading to some uncontested shots and brought the crowd into the game.

"Late there in the second half, Tatum really made some tough shots and really kind of took the air out of us, Ford said.  "I'm very proud of how hard our guys continued to fight, and we just have to try to learn from this. Hopefully we realize that if we play as a team, we currently feel like we can play with anybody in the country. But we're trying to get to the point where we can consistently compete against high level teams. Our goal is to win our conference and play in the NCAA Tournament."

TSU's next game is Dec. 27 against Covenant at home in Gentry Center.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Grambling Holds On to Defeat North Carolina Central 10-9 in Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

With two teams featuring dynamic quarterbacks who led offenses at Grambling State and North Carolina Central to seasons where they led the SWAC and the MEAC in passing and scoring, everyone heading to the Atlanta’s Georgia Dome expected to see a lit-up scoreboard during Saturday’s Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.

The exact opposite happened.

Grambling held on to win 10-9 after turning to Martez Carter and a gashing ground game in the second half, while North Carolina Central was plagued by some big drops and a heartbreaking penalty late.

That penalty – NCCU’s Quentin Atkinson took his helmet off in celebrating his 39-yard touchdown catch with 2:14 remaining that seemed to tie the game – pushed back the potentially game-tying extra point 15 yards and turned it into a longer kick that Grambling ended up blocking to effectively end the game.

“I was excited to catch the ball and bring the team back to tying the game back up,” a dejected Atkinson said after the game.  “And really I was just too excited. I shouldn’t have taken my helmet off.  I apologized to my team. But it shouldn’t have come down to that one touchdown.”  

Grambling's win has led to them being proclaimed FCS HBCU national champions in most polls. 

It was a game where both teams’ offenses sputtered early on.  Grambling, who planned to focus on using their high-tempo offense led by Kincaide to keep North Carolina Central off balance, got into the Eagles territory on each of their first two drives.  But Kincaide threw an interception to Alden McClellon to end the first drive and then Johnathan Wallace missed a field goal.

North Carolina Central had the same issues, as Atkinson dropped what should have been a touchdown catch in the first quarter.  The Eagles ended up with a field goal on that drive, but after driving down deep into Grambling territory again on their next drive, Malcolm Bell was picked off by Grambling’s Deaumante Jones early in the second quarter.  They later missed a field goal just before the half.

For Grambling, the 3-0 halftime deficit was a wake-up call.

“[Offensive coordinator Eric] Dooley] came in at halftime and said, ‘Guys, they took their best shot and we haven’t even gotten started yet.’” Kincaide said.  “So what we did was just buckle down and when we got out there, we just took what they were giving us.”

What they took was an opening using a ground game featuring Carter and Jestin Kelly.  Carter had led a first half Grambling rushing game that totaled 73 yards at halftime, 45 by Carter.  On their first drive of the second half, they rushed for 66, 32 coming on a Carter touchdown run for the game’s only TD to put the Tigers up 7-3 with 9:14 left in the third quarter.

“Jestin Kelly is a ground-and-pound type of guy, and he really wore those guys down,” said Carter, the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player.  “Then me, I’m just a home-run hitter.  You ground them down like that and then you put me in, what else are you going to do?”

The Grambling defense stepped up to force the Eagles into two three-and-outs, two punts, a Bell interception and stopping a North Carolina Central drive on five plays.    The Eagles only had one first down in the third quarter. 

Grambling got a 26-yard field goal from Wallace midway through the third quarter.

North Carolina Central got a spark midway through the fourth quarter as Bell drove the Eagles to the Grambling 44 before the game’s Defensive MVP Jameel Jackson stepped in front of Bell’s pass to pick it off an end the drive. 


“We ran a different package of four corners and we also ran two safeties,” Jackson said.  “For me to be in the game at that moment to make that play, I have to thank God.”

But the Grambling offense sputtered again and ending up punting back to NCCU.

With 4:03 left, North Carolina Central started at their own 41 and quickly drove down to the Grambling 39-yard line.  Bell then zipped a looping pass to the left corner to Atkinson for a touchdown that seemingly was going to send the game into overtime.

But Atkinson’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the extra point try back 15 yards.  On the kick attempt, Joseph McWilliams blocked Brandon McClaren’s kick and it was retuned to the NCCU 42.  The Eagles’ onside kick was unsuccessful, effectively giving the win to a jubilant Grambling squad.


“It was just one of those situations where we had to bite down and play great defense and run the football,” said Grambling head coach Broderick Fobbs.  “That’s what makes our football team a very dominant team – we’re able this year to win many different ways.  Today we ran the football effectively and was able to establish some drives and put what we needed to in the end zone.”

The day before the game, NCCU head coach Jerry Mack said his team would need to score at least 30 points to win the game and score touchdowns in the red zone.  Neither of those things happened

Bell threw for 240 yards and his TD, but had the two crucial interceptions.  He led the Eagles with 31 yards rushing, as the Grambling defense only allowed 55 yards on the ground to NCCU.
“We anticipated a hard-fought game, a close game,” Bell said.  “When the plays were there, we tried to make them.  We didn’t make some plays so it didn’t go our way.  Miscommuication here, someone falling there, you know, things we normally just don’t do. You can’t blame it on the stage.  They were just mistakes.


“If we had gotten blown out, it probably wouldn’t hurt this bad,” he said. “Us coming up one point… you can’t describe the feeling.  You just thought you were there and then it gets taken away from you.”

Mack said his entire team didn’t play like the squad that stormed through the MEAC this season.

“It goes back to poor execution,” Mack said. “A lot of those plays that those guys dropped, they were routine plays we normally make each and every week and also in practice.  They didn’t make them today.  Sometimes that’s what you’re going to get when you’re dealing with 18-to-20-year olds.  But for whatever reason, those throw and catches just weren’t there today.” 

While Kincaide threw for just 149 yards, Carter led Grambling with 109 yards rushing on just 12 carries.  Kelly finished with 65 yards on 17 rushes.