NCAA OPENER: NCCU coach's mind on hospitalized son, 1

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 10:16 PM

There was a guy during N.C. Central’s practice who was knocking down 3-pointer after 3-pointer after 3-pointer.

NCCU coach LeVelle Moton was feeling it behind the arc, in a groove, in a zone.

Perhaps it was a comfort zone, a place to which Moton could retreat for a few minutes to take his mind off his 1-year-old son.

LeVelle Jr. was hospitalized after knocking over some hot coffee that spilled on his face Tuesday night, Moton said.

NCCU plays Iowa State today at AT&T Center in a second-round NCAA Tournament game (9:50 p.m., TNT). It’s NCCU’s first time in the tournament, a monumental moment in the history of the program.

But Moton’s mind is on his baby boy.

“Right now he’s in the hospital, and I stayed there with him on Tuesday night,” Moton said Thursday. “I’ve been calling, checking up on him, and he’s still there. You know, it makes it hard to enjoy. You work your entire life to get to this moment, and one thing I learned is that success is nothing without someone that you love to share it with. I walk into an incredible hotel that looks like an apartment, and I’m in there by myself, and it just doesn’t feel the same — with my son and my daughter and my wife, who sacrifice so much to allow me to become a better person and a better basketball coach, and this unfortunate situation, this unfortunate accident — that they’re not here. That’s my ritual before the game.”

Before NCCU games, Moton’s daughter, Brooke, makes a heart symbol with her little fingers through which she blows a kiss, and he returns the gesture.

Brooke did that a week ago after NCCU won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament, and it brought Moton to tears on national TV.

“This week has been a roller coaster for me both emotionally and personally,” Moton said. “So that’s humbled me. That’s put the pin to my balloon right there. So I’ve just got to get myself together, which I will, to go coach these 12, 13 young men that we have.”

Moton has preached toughness to his team and will have to embody that today against the Cyclones.

“This is big-boy basketball. This is pretty much the major leagues, and we definitely have our hands full with what I believe is the best offensive team in the country in Iowa State,” Moton said.

The Cyclones average 82.9 points per game with Melvin Ejim (18.1 ppg), DeAndre Kane (17 ppg) and Georges Niang (16.5 ppg) providing double-digit scoring.

“I’ve always said this about the Big 12, in any conference that’s pretty much superior, in order to win in those elite conferences such as that, those power conferences, you have to have three pros. They definitely have three pros,” Moton said. “The difference between the teams that we’ve played in our conference that’s been bigger, faster, stronger and this team is they’ve got at least three pros on their team. When you let that marinate, you’ve got your hands full, because, at any moment, any one of those kids can kill you.”

NCCU is the type of team that just has to keep playing defense no matter what, Moton said. Even if the Eagles’ shots aren’t falling, they can’t let that get them off what produced a 28-5 season — plenty of defense, he said.

NCCU, a No. 14 seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament, won’t be scared of No. 3 Iowa State, NCCU senior Jeremy Ingram said.

The Eagles this season beat N.C. State and held their own against Cincinnati and Wichita State, all of them participants in the Big Dance.

“I wouldn’t say we have to shut down a certain player. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year. That is playing good team defense,” Ingram said. “Make it a tough shot, contest and rebound and do what we do.”

It won’t be an upset if NCCU beats 26-7 Iowa State, Ingram said.

“No, we wouldn’t look at it that way,” Ingram said. “We come into every game feeling like we belong and we’re going to win. So we’re just going to come out with the same attitude we’ve approached all year from the beginning of the season until now.”

Niang, too, said it wouldn’t be an upset if NCCU wins. The Eagles belong in the Big Dance, he said.

“I don’t like to think of us losing, but N.C. Central is a really good team,” Niang said. “They have older guys. They’re an older group. They know how to play the game. They’ve won 20 straight, so when we go to prep for this team, it’s like prepping for a team like Kansas, a dominant team in their league.

“We’re not underestimating anybody in this tournament. Seeding’s are absolutely out the window for us,” Niang said. “They’ve won 20 in a row. We, for sure, have to respect them.”

TALE OF THE TAPE: NCCU vs. IOWA STATE


  ISU NCCU
Record 26-7 28-5
Avg. Pts. 82.9 73.9
Opp. Avg. Pts. 73.9 58.5
Margin 9.0 15.4
FG Pct. .471 .462
Opp. FG Pct. .414 .373
3-Pt. FG Pct. .351 .338
Opp. 3-Pt. FG Pct. .336 .295
3-Pt. FG-Game 8.3 5.4
Opp. 3-Pt. FG-Game 7.2 5.4
FT Pct. .694 .727
Rebound Margin 1.3 3.8
TO Diff. 1.3 4.3
Avg Steals 6.0 7.8
Avg Blocks 2.9 4.0

 

IOWA STATE ROSTER

Iowa State Roster/117
Iowa State Cyclones Roster
The Associated Press


Coach: Fred Hoiberg

  Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown
3 Melvin Ejim F 6-6 220 Sr Toronto
4 Sherron Dorsey-Walker G 6-4 200 Fr Detroit
11 Monte Morris G 6-2 170 Fr Flint, Mich.
15 Naz Long G 6-4 205 So Mississauga, Ontario
21 Matt Thomas G 6-3 200 Fr Onalaska, Wis.
22 Dustin Hogue F 6-6 215 Jr Yonkers, N.Y.
24 Percy Gibson C 6-9 255 Jr Detroit
31 Georges Niang F 6-7 240 So Methuen, Mass.
33 Tyler Ellerman F 6-8 240 Sr Dallas Center, Iowa  
42 Daniel Edozie F 6-8 245 Jr Compton, Calif.
50 DeAndre Kane G 6-4 200 Sr Pittsburgh

 

NC Central Roster/137
North Carolina Central Eagles Roster
The Associated Press


Coach: LeVelle Moton

  Pos Ht Wt Yr Hometown
0 Dante Holmes G 6-3 190 So Baltimore
1 Jay Copeland F 6-7 255 Jr Suffolk, Va.
2 Jordan Parks F 6-7 200 Jr Queens, N.Y.
3 Juwan Moody G 6-1 175 Fr Pontiac, Mich.
4 Kevin Crawford II G 6-1 150 Fr Blythewood, S.C.
5 Ebuka Anyaorah G 6-4 194 Sr Suwanee, Ga.
10 Karamo Jawara F 6-8 220 Jr Bergen, Norway
12 Antonin Galaya G 6-5 200 Sr St. Martin, French West Indies      
13 Reggie Groves G 6-2 190 Sr Raleigh, N.C.
14 Jeremy Ingram G 6-3 175 Sr Charlotte, N.C.
32 Emanuel Chapman G 6-1 160 Sr Raleigh, N.C.
40 Alfonzo Houston G 6-3 190 Sr Cleveland Heights, Ohio,