NCCU faces Coppin State, looks to remain unbeaten in MEAC
If basketball were a science, then N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton might be lauded as someone who knows a lot about choosing the right ingredients.
"One of the most underrated factors is chemistry,” Moton said about his Eagles, who are unbeaten in the MEAC. "If I walk through the campus, I'm seeing 12 of them at a time and I think that's key. It really resonates itself on the floor. They're helping each other; they're talking to one another."
So far, no Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team has has come up with a formula to beat NCCU (11-7, 4-0). Coppin State (5-15, 2-3 MEAC) will try to neutralize the Eagles today at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium (4 p.m., nccueaglepride.com).
NCCU had its way with Howard in a 71-36 win on Monday, earning Moton his 50th win as the Eagles’ coach.
NCCU, which is on a five-game winning streak, hasn’t had that kind of sustained success since the 1999-2000 season.
"I really don't want to hear what we did since 1999,” Moton said. “None of that stuff matters, man. What matters is laying one brick at a time."
NCCU sophomore Karamo Jawara is in the mix both as a backup forward and the team’s hype man, the guy who bumps chests with the starters when they’re introduced before games. He took a spill during the Howard contest and needed help leaving the court, not putting any pressure on one of his ankles.
Jawara’s injury was considered day-to-day, potentially disturbing the chemistry experiment that Moton described as a collection of guys whose only concern with statistics is whether the final score is in NCCU’s favor.
"It's definitely the best ‘team’ that I've ever coached," Moton said.
NCCU newcomer Stanton Kidd is the Eagles’ second leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, just a tad behind Jeremy Ingram’s 15.7.
Kidd, a transfer from South Plains, a junior college in Texas, starts at one of NCCU’s forward spots, and he credited Jawara for showing him how to play the position in Moton’s system.
"You've just got a group of guys that not just wants to win but build a team to where if somebody scores, we all feel involved,” NCCU senior Ray Willis said. “Or if somebody makes an assist, we all feel involved. And it just correlates to the floor.
"We watch games together. We might bowl together. You've just got a group of guys that just loves each other, to be honest. We're just flowing right now."
Willis transferred to NCCU from Oklahoma, and senior Ebuka Anyaorah spent some time at Georgia and McLennan Community College in Texas before heading to Durham.
Their senior leadership has been good for the Eagles, point guard Emanuel Chapman said.
Anyaorah hasn’t played since breaking his foot in late November, yet he’s still always around the team, keeping the chemistry, Chapman said.
“Those guys, they really, really, genuinely love each other,” Moton said. “If you see one, you see eight of them."