Eagles still winning, need to return to form
N.C. Central's players ran out on the floor in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium on Saturday wearing these fluorescent, greenish-yellowish T-shirts that screamed "Moton's Maniacs."
Don't look for them on the Eagles tonight when they're warming up before hosting Bethune-Cookman (7:30 p.m., nccueaglepride.com).
“I took them away," NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said about the shirts bearing his name. "I snatched them away at halftime. I said, ‘Throw them away. I don’t want you wearing them.’”
There are Cameron Crazies at Duke, and the Moton's Maniacs deal was piggybacking off of what now is NCCU's 10-game winning streak.
NCCU already has beaten Bethune-Cookman, back in January. On Saturday, Florida A&M was the Eagles' latest prey.
FAMU coach Clemon Johnson said he started the season believing he had put together a team that at this point would be better than 3-6 in the MEAC.
After going against NCCU for the second time this season, Johnson said Moton's program has become a standard bearer.
“This is what we’re trying to get to,” Johnson said.
Moton begged to differ, particularly regarding how the Eagles looked over the weekend.
"It must be my birthday or something and he's just wishing me some well-wishes, because we were awful," Moton said about Johnson's high praise for NCCU. "I'm very disappointed. I'm upset with our effort."
The Eagles (16-7, 9-0 MEAC) didn't share the ball like they've been doing and weren't locked in defensively, Moton said.
Bethune-Cookman (9-15, 4-5) knocked NCCU out of the conference tournament a year ago.
Moton said he figures his players have more Facebook friends and Twitter followers as a result of the wins NCCU has strung together. But the Eagles had better not buy into the hype the public is selling, because NCCU hasn't accomplished anything yet, he said.
"Absolutely nothing," Moton said. "We've got to get back to respecting the game a little more."
NCCU forward Stanton Kidd said he and his teammates didn't enter the FAMU game with big heads from having gazed at their unbeaten record.
“We take it like we’re 0-8 in the MEAC,” Kidd said.
NCCU guard Jeremy Ingram said the Eagles really get after each other in practice.
If the Eagles want to stay unbeaten in the league, then they'd better get back to what got them to this point, Moton said.
"We've worked too hard," Moton said. "What these young men have to understand is — it's a perfect life lesson — your reputation and everything that you've worked so hard to build over 18, 20 years can be destroyed within a 10-minute performance. That's on the floor and off the floor, so we have to respect the game at all times."
For the time being, NCCU's players don't even have the opportunity to earn back the right to wear the "Moton's Maniacs" shirts, the coach said.
"The students can wear them, but not us,” Moton said. “It's just about coming out here, respecting the game, lacing them up and giving these people their money's worth.”
In support of teammate
NCCU freshman Rashawn King, who scored the first basket of his collegiate career on the road when the Eagles beat Maryland Eastern Shore 82-54 a week ago, didn't get in the game on Saturday against FAMU.
Moton said he's not sure whether his players talk about building big leads in games so King, who is battling leukemia, can get some playing time, but he wouldn't put it past his team.
“Whenever he's away receiving chemo treatment and things of that nature, you can just feel a void within the team,” Moton said. “I hate receiving that text from him saying, 'Coach, I'm not going to be able to make it because I have chemo today.'"