NCCU has eyes on ultimate prize: MEAC Tournament title
N.C. Central stacked up 22 wins last season — the most for the team since its head coach was a freshman guard with the Eagles during the 1992-93 season.
NCCU lost a total of nine games last season, and the Eagles were 15-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference during the regular season.
But when it came time for the Eagles to pick up their tickets for the Big Dance, rival N.C. A&T cut in on them at the MEAC Tournament.
The MEAC team that wins the league tournament is the only squad from the conference that gets an automatic NCAA Tournament bid. And last year, that team was A&T.
In other words, NCCU accomplished a lot without really doing anything, NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said during NCCU’s media day Tuesday.
“Our league is pretty much defined by a title or bust, with it being 13 teams,” Moton said. “I always use the analogy of 13 dogs chasing one bone. And, unfortunately, whoever wins the tournament, you have 12 sad puppies going home, and that taste has to remain in your mouth for a complete year.”
NCCU beat A&T twice during the regular season before the Aggies clipped the Eagles 55-42 in the MEAC Tournament.
“I haven’t looked at the tape, nor will I,” Moton said. “We played extremely well. We just didn’t shoot the basketball well. Unfortunately, in this game, the only way you can score is for the ball to go through the net.”
NCCU senior point guard Emanuel “Poobie” Chapman said he’s not predicting how many wins the Eagles will have this season. He said he’s not going to get into breaking down which teams NCCU ought to beat. It’s all about winning every day in practice, and the games will take care of themselves, Chapman said.
NCCU guard Ebuka Anyaorah has been granted another year of eligibility after a foot injury sidelined him for the bulk of last season. Moton regarded him as the team’s toughest player before he went down.
The Eagles looked rough when preseason practices began, but guys are starting to understand each other’s games, Anyaorah said.
NCCU has six new players, including junior forward Ramon Eaton (6-8, 225), who could make up for some of the size and skill lost with the transfer of forward Stanton Kidd (6-7, 215) to Colorado State.
Kidd was the third leading scorer in the MEAC at 14.5 points per game.
But Jeremy Ingram was NCCU’s leading scorer with 15.7 points per game, second-best in the MEAC, and he’s back for his senior season.
The Eagles have been going hard at each other in practice when there have been enough guys to get after it, Moton said.
“One day I came into practice, we had six people,” Moton said. “So I had to go back out there out of retirement. That’s not going to work. Our main intention right now is just getting healthy.”