Eagles looking for more success in postseason
Despite a 15-1 run through the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton claims he still doesn't know what kind of team he has.
NCCU is 22-8 overall and heading into next week's MEAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed. That good standing allows the Eagles to jump straight to Wednesday's quarterfinals, which could be another meeting with rival N.C. A&T.
NCCU beat the Aggies both at their place in Greensboro and at home in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium.
The MEAC Tournament is March 11-16 at Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va., and as big as another Aggie-Eagle game would be, a potential championship matchup between NCCU and No. 1 Norfolk State likely would generate even more buzz.
No team in the MEAC this season was able to beat Norfolk State, although the Spartans and Eagles never duked it out on the floor. A meeting between those two would settle some what-ifs.
But to hear Moton on Friday during a special gathering of NCCU supporters inside Champps restaurant at Southpoint Mall, just getting out of the quarterfinals could be a challenge for the Eagles.
"Before I'm 40, man, they're going to have me looking like Grady from 'Sanford and Son'," Moton said. "This team makes you age in dog years. I love them. But this is a tough task, because we still have inexperience, and it still shows.
"Too many times, we've had to have damage control in the final four minutes when the games shouldn't have been as close."
The Eagles don't seem to understand that hoisting bad shots can send teams on runs that allow 20-point leads by NCCU to erode, Moton said. That sort of immaturity on Thursday awakened a Hampton crowd that NCCU had quieted, Moton said.
"The true mark of a champion is to put teams away. Champions don't let you stick around," Moton said. "Mike Tyson in the (19)80s wasn't letting you go 15 rounds. He wasn't dibbling and dabbling with you. He was like, 'Let's go on and get this over with.' If you want to be a champion, that's the attitude and the killer instinct that you must possess."
Moton said he has shown his team the video of Bethune-Cookman's Garrius Holloman rising up to knock down a jumper that bumped NCCU out of the 2012 MEAC Tournament quarterfinals. That shot came after a controversial charging call on former NCCU big man Dominique Sutton, who dunked for what would have put the Eagles up by three points with less than 20 seconds left in the game.
Moton said he showed that footage so his players from last year can remember the pain, and he wanted his newcomers get a taste of it, too.
NCCU women face Coppin State
The NCCU Lady Eagles have won just two games all season, and it's reminded first-year coach Vanessa Taylor of her first coaching stint with a struggling Elizabeth City State team.
Heading into the MEAC Tournament, Taylor said she has told the Lady Eagles to drown the sounds of the naysayers who don't know how hard they've been working in practice and have no understanding of how the rough road has made them better.
"We haven't had a lot of wins, but we've had a lot of great small successes," Taylor said. "That's why you play a tournament, and it's always upset city. Everybody starts out with a bracket, but very few people get it right."
No. 12 NCCU plays No. 5 Coppin State in the opening round of the tournament at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.