News, notes & rumors – 3/13
Oh, the irony! When the MEAC tournament was in Winston-Salem, all fans wanted to see was N.C. Central vs. N.C. A&T matchup. Never happened. Now, in the first year at the Scope in Norfolk, Va., the archrivals will meet tonight for the third time this season. The Eagles have owned the Aggies since they resumed the series, winners of four of the past five matchups. But the Aggies may have a slight advantage tonight in that they have played a game – defeating Florida A&M yesterday – while NCCU had a bye. It should be a doozy of a game. If the Eagles should lose, fans better root for Norfolk State to win it all. That way the Spartans get an invite to the Big Dance, while NCCU will most likely go to the NIT. As far down as the men's basketball program has been, ANY postseason bid would be remarkable.
UPDATE: Norfolk State was upset by Bethune-Cookman. That means they get the NIT bid. NCCU lost to N.C. A&T. The Eagles season is 99 percent over.
More from the CIAA tournament:
• With all the talk about Shaw senior Karron Johnson getting put off the team, no mention was made of the dismissal of women's player Ronika Ransford. Why is that? Ransford was averaging 15.5 points per game and was instrumental in many of Shaw's wins. Some of us have heard rumors but due to possible legal action, we'd best keep quiet.
• The John B. McLendon Hall of Fame induction ceremony was almost half empty. Normally, the room at the Charlotte Convention Center is packed to the rafters. But this year, EVERYBODY had to pay the $50 per ticket. One attendee said many of the older honorees couldn't make it because they were on fixed income and couldn't afford the price.
• In the "You never know what's going on behind the scenes" department, Virginia Union guard Parress Davis scored 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers past Virginia State in the early rounds. Davis' father died a year ago on that day. She honored him by putting on one of her best performances all season.
• Johnson C. Smith's women's coaching staff is comprised of all former N.C. Central folks. Head coach Steve Joyner Jr. is a former assistant; Shenika Worthy and Amba Kongola are former standout players, and assistant Joli Robinson is the former women's head coach. Talk about keeping it all in the family. It was good to see them. Those Eagles women's teams were more interesting to watch than any of the men during the time. It's a shame Kongola never got a championship ring. But she can get one as a coach. Just as long as Smith doesn't have to play Shaw.
• According to scuttlebutt, the CIAA board discussed several changes to the tourney. One would be to lengthen the tourney to start Monday night after the women's and men's luncheon. Duh! The second is having four play-in games on campus sites of the highest seeds. The winners then go on the play at the big arena. I can't see that one going anywhere. EVERY squad wants to play on the big stage. That may be the only chance they get.