2021 hoops off to a rough start

LUT WILLIAMS, BCSP Editor

DAVIS: Veteran Morgan State women’s head basketball coach out since falling ill at Dec. 20 game vs. Towson.

No one said it was going to be easy when the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) among others decided to put together 2021 schedules for basketball despite the ongoing and spreading COVID-19 pandemic.

Men’s and women’s teams in both conferences, as well as those at Hampton and Tennessee State that play in other conferences, limped through non-conference schedules before the new year.

The disease has knocking out players, coaches and staff members alike. Positive tests amongst any of them sidelined the entire team and consequently torpedoed games on the schedules.

In the SWAC, there were about two cancellations for every three non-conference games played.

The MEAC was a little better, with about two cancellations to the four games that made it onto the courts.

So it should come as no surprise that four MEAC’s men’s hoops contests and twice as many, eight SWAC games, were postponed in just the first week of play that began in the new year.

For the MEAC, that’s four postponements out of the eight games that were scheduled. For the SWAC, three were played, 11 were scheduled.

At this rate, the conferences would have to be very fortunate to make it through the season.

The Big South, where Hampton plays, had five postponements last week. The Ohio Valley Conference, home to Tennessee State, got through its five games in the new year Saturday without a postponement. Knock of wood.

Any prognostications at this point are futile. It’s too early. Here’s what’s in store this week.

 SWAC

On the men’s side, Alabama A&M (2-0) had two impressive non-conference wins in their only games so far against Samford (78- 76) and South Alabama (93-90, 2 OT). South Alabama was ranked 16th in the nation before the loss.

Six-seven sophomore forward Jalen Johnson (26.0 ppg.) and 6-foot sophomore guard Garrett Hicks (20.5 ppg.) have led the way scoring for third-year head coach Dylan Howard’s squad while point guard Cameron Tucker leads the league in assists (10.0 apg.). Johnson and Hicks are currently 1-2 in SWAC scoring stats.

The Bulldogs have had two games cancelled while their first two SWAC games (Jan. 2 vs. Jackson State and Jan. 4 vs. Grambling State) were postponed. They get their first taste of conference action Saturday (Jan. 9) on the road at Mississippi Valley State and Monday (Jan. 11) on the road at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Preseason men’s favorite Texas Southern (2-5, 0-0 SWAC) gets its first taste of action Saturday at crosstown Houston rival Prairie View A&M (1-4, 0-0). PV A&M was picked third in the preseason poll behind Southern.

The Lady Bulldogs of Alabama A&M (2-2, 0-1 SWAC) also claimed a nationally-ranked scalp as they knocked off No. 11 Troy (80-69) in late November.

After suffering through four cancellations, the ladies fell to SWAC preseason favorite Jackson State in its conference opener 64- 56 Saturday. They will join the men on the road at MVSU and UAPB this week.

The surprise on the women’s side was Alabama State’s 72-70 home win over JSU Monday. It was the Lady Hornets’ (1-0 SWAC) first game after sitting out the non-conference schedule. Their game Sat urday hosting Grambling State was postponed.

 MEAC

Howard appeared to be the hottest team among the MEAC women before the Lady Bison ran into Morgan State Monday.

In the MEAC’s back-to-back schedule of games, the Bison were at 5-1 overall with four Div. I wins and 1-0 in league play after their 73-48 win over the Lady Bears Saturday.

But MSU turned the tables on Howard coming away with a 71-58 win Sunday.

Morgan State was picked to finish second in preseason voting in the Northern Division but could be considered one of the league favorites now with preseason Southern Division pick Bethune-Cookman choosing to sit out the season.

The Lady Bears (4-2, 1-1 MEAC) are off until Jan. 16th and 17th dates at Delaware State.

Morgan State women’s head coach Ed Davis left the game at Towson on Dec. 20 at halftime with an illness. Assistant head coach Wanika Owsley has been leading the Lady Bears while Davis is out. The hard-working Davis is getting a much needed rest and may return by the end of the month.

The Lady Bison (5-1, 1-1) are also off until Jan. 16th and 17th dates at home vs. Coppin State.

North Carolina A&T senior Deja Winters is topping the league scoring charts at 16.7 ppg.

On the men’s side, things have gotten off slowly with only three games that made it to the court this past week.

North Carolina A&T got two wins on the road at South Carolina State and Coppn State hosted and beat Delaware State Monday.

Not a whole lot of action on tap for the men this week as DelState is at Howard Saturday and Sunday while Morgan State plays at Norfolk State on those same days.

Preseason Southern Division favorite North Carolina Central’s (1-3, 0-0 MEAC) first conference action Saturday and Sunday at Florida A&M has been postponed. Northern Division preseason pick Norfolk State (4-3, 0-0) hosting Morgan State Saturday and Sunday is still on as of press time.

HOOPS THIS WEEK

THURS., JAN 7

UT Martin @ Tennessee State – M&W

Nebraska-Kearney @ Lincoln (Mo.) – M &W

Glenville State @ W. Va. State – M&W

SAT., JAN. 9

Delaware State @ Howard – M

Morgan State @ Norfolk State – M

NC A&T @ SC State – W

Alabama A&M @ Miss. Valley St. – M&W

Texas Southern @ Prairie View – M&W

Alabama State @ UAPB – M&W

Alcorn State @ Jackson State – M&W

Southern @ Grambling State M&W

UNC Asheville @ Hampton – M SE

Missouri @ Tennessee State – M&W

Ft. Hays State @ Lincoln (Mo.) – M&W

SUN. JAN. 10

Delaware State @ Howard – M

Morgan State @ Norfolk State – M

NC A&T @ SC State – W

Hampton @ UNC Asheville – W

W. Va. State @ Concord – M&W

MON., JAN. 11

Alcorn State @ Grambling State – M&W

Alabama A&M @ UAPB – M&W

Southern @ Jackson State – M&W

Alabama State @ Miss. Valley St. – M&W