NCCU's Moton downplays his coaching; opponents don't
To hear N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton tell it, his great basketball mind is not what earned the Eagles their signature win over N.C. State last month.
NCCU is a mid-major school in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and in 14 tries had never beaten a school in the Atlantic Coast Conference until Nov. 20.
The Eagles did that on the road. In overtime. After Emanuel Chapman, NCCU’s all-time leader in assists, fouled out.
“I just got back in my coaches box and held up some fingers like I was calling plays, and they made some plays,” Moton claimed.
“You can let Coach tell you guys he wasn’t calling plays if you want to,” Chapman said. “He did his job.”
The Eagles (6-2) will show up for work tonight at home in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium against Winthrop (7 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com).
Moton has said he doesn’t take himself too seriously as far as coaching in concerned, although his body language clearly articulates that he’s not over there on the bench just messing around when he’s drawing Xs and Os.
Yet on a certain level, basketball basically comes down to the rules of the game dictating this and that and players accordingly doing thus and so.
So with the new NCAA legislation aimed at cleaning up the game by frowning on flopping and slapping at heavy hand checking, Moton, instead of complaining about the changes, simply is coaching by coaching simply.
“With the new rules, man, just put your head down and just run over people. That’s what I tell ’em, because you can’t touch anyone. It’s tough to guard people now,” Moton said.
There’s no need for players to settle for jumpers when the refs are handing out trips to the charity stripe as if they were frequent-flyer miles, Moton suggested.
Moton is real casual like that, but he can coach his behind off, Appalachian State coach Jason Capel said recently after NCCU beat his Mountaineers in overtime.
Capel was a forward at North Carolina. His brother, Jeff, played point guard for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, has been head coach at VCU and Oklahoma and is an assistant coach for the Blue Devils. Their father has coached both on the college level and in the NBA.
In other words, Jason Capel has been around enough basketball to know which coach’s white-board scribblings are worth deciphering. Moton knows what he’s talking about, and his players understand that, Jason Capel said.
“Kids want to play for him,” Jason Capel said.
NCCU became a Division I program in the 2007-08 season, and Moton said coaches were blowing up his phone, trying to get dates to beat the Eagles.
Then NCCU started winning, and certain teams — certain Tobacco Road teams — weren’t so eager to lace ’em up against the Eagles, Moton said.
A season ago, NCCU ran through the MEAC, going 15-1 before sputtering in the league tournament and missing out on an automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
NCCU has been able to close the competition gap because Moton, respected around the country for his coaching ability, can get the kind of recruits who not only can play but play his way, Jason Capel said.
What’s working well for this current group of Eagles is that they’re a veteran team with guys who understand that Jeremy Ingram is the best player on the squad and are OK with all of the shot attempts he gets because of that, Jason Capel said.