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Shaw, oh Shaw, where art thou?
Published Friday, March 2, 2018
by Bonitta Best

I want Shaw back!

I want the team that everyone loved to hate. I want the bullies, the thugs – er, thugettes – that knocked players around and intimidated players just by walking through the door.

I want the team that won nine CIAA Tournament titles in 12 seasons. I want the cocky, insufferable Jacques Curtis. (OK, he’s still cocky and insufferable, so never mind there.)

The Bears haven’t won a title since the 2013-14 season and haven’t even been back to the title game since then.

The past two years have been awful (17-41).

Of course, the drought could just be a blip on the radar screen, and this won’t become the new normal.

Let’s set one thing straight: No matter what happens, Curtis is not going anywhere –unless he leaves on his own terms. He’s not going to get fired or have his contract “not renewed.”

Al Carter is the athletics director. ‘Nuff said.

If history is any indication, this was to be Shaw’s comeback season. After the team won four straight titles from 2003-06, it skipped a year before returning to the trophy podium again in 2008.

The Bears were denied titles in 2009 and ’10 before going on another four-title win streak (2011-14). So the team was due.

But Shaw’s last two squads, in particular, have lacked what gave the championship teams their competitive edge: chemistry. The players knew where each other were on the court at all times.

The past two teams have looked like eight players who individually showed up for a playground game and decided to form a team. What’s your name again?

Curtis is famous for holding out his best recruits for the second semester. That also hasn’t happened the past two seasons. Word is those recruits that might have eked in under the compliance radar are not getting the same consideration now.

One of the best centers that ever played under Curtis since my arrival was Naomi Mobley. The first time I saw Mobley in action in 2003 I said she was going to be the CIAA player of the year.

She wasn’t, because of some drama that would take too long to explain, but she was named tournament MVP that year en route to a tourney title.

Or Latasha Shipman, another standout forward/center who was as beautiful as she was talented. She led the Bears to two consecutive titles in 2003 and ’04, and finished with a career 1,119 points and 782 rebounds.

And how about that 2011-12 NCAA Division II national championship team, led by Sequoyah Griffin, Aslea Williams and others. That entire squad was out of this world.

Shaw wasn’t even favored when it won its last title in 2014, Virginia State (25-2) was. But the Bears switched into high gear in Charlotte and that was all she wrote.

To understand just how dominant Shaw was, no women’s team has won two tourney titles in a row since Bowie State won three straight from 1997-99.

Every conference has to have a villain, and by villain I mean the team everyone roots against for whatever reason – real or imagined.

It’s North Carolina Central in the MEAC, Tuskegee in the SIAC and Grambling State in the SWAC.

I need the old Shaw back, and so does the CIAA.




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