Eagles discovering what's in a name

Feb. 21, 2014 @ 01:34 PM

DURHAM — A warm-up suit might be a better look for N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton.

It’d at least be more functional, because that guy sometimes gets so far outside of his coaching box — gyrating his arms and whatnot — that it looks like he’s trying to set screens for his players.

The refs have warned Moton about it. He just keeps creeping farther onto the court.

Perhaps passion is one of those habits that die hard.

Not that Moton is beyond change. Look no further than the backs of NCCU’s jerseys for evidence of that.

In other words, fans unfamiliar with the Eagle who looks like an acrobat while rising to rattle the rim can peek at the back of his shirt and figure out that it’s NCCU newcomer Jordan Parks.

This is Moton’s first NCCU squad that has the players’ last names on their jerseys. Moton pushes the team concept, and, in his mind, distinguishing individuals by name can take away from that.

But so far, so good for NCCU, in sole possession of first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Eagles (20-5, 11-1 MEAC) will go after their 13th consecutive win on Saturday at N.C. A&T (6 p.m., 99.9 HD3 The Ticket).
NCCU seniors Emanuel Chapman and Jeremy Ingram called the play to get the names on the jerseys.

“We had to ask Coach 112, 113 times for it, because he’s big on team,” Chapman said. “And we’re big on team, too, but a lot of our players, including me, have never had — I’ve never had my name on the back of my jersey. So to actually see it is unbelievable.”

Moton just shook his head.

“I’m getting soft as a coach,” Moton said. “When you have a daughter, you tend to get soft a little bit. I don’t really like that too much. So I’ve got to go back and reevaluate myself and get some counseling myself and toughen up a little bit.”

Coaches like to talk about how there's no I in TEAM, but ME is in there, and Moton, an old soul, has allowed for some of that. He also did something else that showed he’s not altogether old school.

Chapman and Ingram are featured on the team poster. Singling out guys like that is a first for Moton.

The extra attention has not gotten Ingram and Chapman off their games.

Ingram, a shooting guard, is NCCU’s leading scorer at 19.5 points per contest.

Chapman, NCCU’s starting point guard, is averaging 6.8 assists every times he laces up his sneakers for games and is the school’s all-time leader in that category with 570.

Neither Ingram (6-3, 175), from Charlotte’s East Mecklenburg High School, nor Chapman (6-1, 160), from Raleigh’s Enloe High School, were highly recruited by college coaches. Moton saw something in them, and the duo has become the first NCCU players he’s coached for four years.

Moton said he appreciates how loyal both Ingram and Chapman have been to NCCU. He told them that as long as they play hard for the name on the front of their jerseys, then he’s cool with them having their names on the backs of those shirts.

“The day they don’t and I don’t approve of it, you’ll see some duct tape on their backs. I promise you that,” Moton said.