MEAC NOTES AND RAMBLINGS
-Delaware State finished first in the league standings each of the past two years, and really dominated the league, but suffered losses in the conference championship game two years in a row, which kept them out of the NCAA Tournament.
-The regular season champion has failed to win the conference tournament three out of the last four years. MEAC TEAMS
-FLORIDA A&M was the league champions last season, but decided to get rid of head coach Mike Gillespie after some legal matters off the court. It is very unfortunate. Gillsespie had built up the Rattlers and taken them to two NCAA Tournaments in his six seasons. He was also one of the more charismatic coaches in all of div1 and never disappointed at press conferences. The Rattlers lose three of their top four scorers, and with new coaching and several new players it could be a rough year for them.
-NORTH CAROLINA A&T has reason to be excited. Head coach Jerry Eaves
has done a bang-up job since taking over. Theyve gone from a 1-26 team to being one of the better teams in the league in a very short time. They love to play an up-tempo, 94 foot game, and are led by Steven Rush, who averaged over 17ppg last year. They also do a pretty good job on the glass. Forward Jason Wills averaged over 7rpg a season ago. Dont be surprised to see this team finish at the top of the league, which would be a tremendous achievement considering how far theyve had to come.
-HAMPTON is another team that will contend for the league title. They seemed to be on cruise control last season after winning six out of seven at one point, but then they lost three of their last five against teams that werent really at the top of the league. Still, with four starters coming back, the Pirates could be dangerous this year. They also have a pretty strong following, especially by MEAC standards, and as a result are able to play more home games rather than having to so many road games against high profile teams in order to pay the bills. They are led by guard Rashad West, who is one of the better players in the conference. He averaged over 17ppg last season, and does a good job passing the ball as well. All and all, the Pirates appear to have more weapons than anyone else. Mike Freeman
and Matthew Pilgrim are the nucleus for a strong frontcourt as well.
-DELAWARE STATE has dominated the regular season the past two years, but have had some bad luck in the conference tournament, which has kept them out of the NCAA Tournament. They only have one starter back from a team that was so successful a year ago, and it isnt likely well see them at the top of the standings again this year.
-MORGAN STATEs program has improved under head coach Todd Bozeman, and they should continue to improve into this season. They won just four games two seasons ago, but managed to go 13-18 last year, so theyre moving in the right direction. They have three starters coming back and some pretty talented JUCO players transferring in who should make some big contributions.
-COPPIN STATE struggled last season going just 9-9 in league play, which is way below what they typically do. With all five starters back, including guard Tywain McKee, who is perhaps one of the best players in the league, they should be back toward the top this season, though. McKee averaged over 17ppg last season and can also pass the ball very well. This team is very strong out on the perimeter.
-After a really disappointing season, BETHUNE COOKMAN showed some life at the end of the year. Five of their seven div1 wins came after February 10th, so they were playing better down the stretch than they were at any other point. With three starters coming back theyll look to carry some of that momentum into this season.
-HOWARD managed just nine wins last season, but would have likely done better had they not lost guard Eugene Hyatt, who averaged over 15ppg, to an injury in December. Even with Hyatt back in action Howard appears to be lacking what they need in order to compete for a conference title. It could be a long year.
-NORFOLK STATE is playing under an interim head coach this year after going 10-8 in league play last year. They do have a fanstastic guard in Tony Murphy, who averaged close to 17ppg last year. Much of their success will depend on him, but he cant do it all alone. They need to step it up in the frontcourt if they want to finish toward the top of the league.
-Ed Tyson is a fanstastic player for MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE and averaged over 16ppg a season ago. Unfortunately, no one else on the team really is. They won just three games last season, and shouldnt be much of a threat within the league this year. They do have a new head coach, who is hoping to breathe some life into a team that hasnt showed much over the past few years.
-SOUTH CAROLINA STATE also dismissed a coach in the offseason, and it is not going to be a smooth transition. Jamal Brown isnt going quietly and is suing the university. Theyve hired Tim Carter, who is a former Florida State assistant, to replace him. SC State does have three starters coming back and didnt have too bad a year last year, but I dont see them finishing at the top of the standing this year.
-WINSTON SALEM STATE is new to the league. Since it is only their second year at the div1 level they are not eligible for postseason play, but that isnt likely to matter much. They were 5-24 a season ago and are still going through the growing pains of making the jump. All five starters are back, though, and they should be a better more experienced team than a season ago.