John McCann: Aggies-Eagles just another game? Yeah, right

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 09:02 PM

After N.C. Central beat Delaware State on Saturday, the attention turned to today’s game against archrival N.C. A&T (7:30 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com).

For the uninitiated, think Duke-North Carolina.

Well, Jonathan Duren, a broadcaster for the NCCU Sports Network, tossed a postgame question to NCCU point guard Emanuel Chapman. Duren wanted the best assist man in NCCU history to talk about the Aggie-Eagle rivalry.

But normally rather chatty Chapman suddenly turned into New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

“Just a conference game,” Chapman said.

That’s it. That’s all we got from Chapman.

Then NCCU senior and aspiring broadcast journalist Aneisha Bussey asked Chapman about the rivalry.

“Like I said, it’s a conference game,” Chapman said.

Chapman kept on talking, though.

“Of course, it’s added pressure or added whatever because of everybody, but for us, we’re trying to get another win in the conference, and we’re just trying to protect the house,” Chapman said.

Now, there I was trying to figure out why Chapman was all tight-lipped when the dude asked him about the rivalry, yet he had more to say when the young lady popped the question. Maybe it's best summed up by saying that Chapman simply is the sort of stone-cold gentleman that Ralph Tresvant sang about on one of his solo efforts.

You remember Tresvant from the New Edition singing group, right? NCCU coach LeVelle Moton grew up with those guys in Roxbury, Mass., before his family moved to North Carolina, home of the Tobacco Road rivalry that’s going down tonight in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium.

“It’s just another conference game,” Moton said.

Moton played in Aggie-Eagle games as an NCCU guard in the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and he’s been coaching in the rivalry for the past several seasons in the Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

“Once they throw the ball up, that stuff doesn’t matter. It’s just A&T versus Central,” Moton said. “Make no mistake about it, we don’t like them and they don’t like us, and that’s just how it’s going to be. But they’re not hanging up banners for beating A&T. They’re hanging up banners for winning a MEAC championship.

“The popcorn will probably smell just a little different because people are bringing their special seasonings, so on and so forth. But at the end of the day, it’s still basketball for us.”

Reach John McCann at jmccann@heraldsun.com; 919-419-6601.