Before the season started, Towson State coach Terry Truax expressed concern over who would pick up the scoring slack with the departure of last season's leading scorer, Kurk Lee, now with the New Jersey Nets.
But 14 games into the season, that no longer seems a worry, as the Tigers (8-6) sit alone on top of the East Coast Conference with a 4-0 record after Saturday's 74-61 win over Hofstra.
Guards Devin Boyd (20.0 points per game) and Terrance Jacobs (15.8) were among the top five in the league in scoring last week. Forward Chuck Lightening was just behind with a 15.3 average, and four players have at one point led the team in scoring. That's a far cry from last season, when Lee led the team in scoring in all but one game and was the only player to average more than 12 points, as he captured his second ECC scoring title (26.0).
"Last year, just about 85 percent of our plays were geared around Kurk," Boyd said. "Now, anybody can get a shot off out of the offense we run. It took awhile to develop, but it's coming now because we really have a feel for each other."
Truax said he is pleased that others have stepped up to score, but is not all that happy about where those points are coming from. A lot of the scoring is coming from the perimeter, and starting post players William Griffin and Larry Brown are averaging just 4.5 and 3.9 points, respectively.
"We really need our inside players to step up a bit," Truax said. "But I think if we can continue to play good defense as we have -- we're a better defensive team than people give us credit for -- we should be OK."
* Three games into a five-game homestand, Coppin State is proving that it's a difficult team to beat at home.
The latest Coppin Center victim was Florida A&M, whose 78-64 defeat Saturday marked the Eagles' 18th straight home win. With wins over North Carolina A&T, Maryland Eastern Shore and the Rattlers during the past two weeks, the Eagles (7-8, 3-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) look this week to go over .500 for the first time this season with home games against Bethune-Cookman (tonight) and Morgan State (Thursday).
"As a whole, it was a win that we needed, and it was an important win for us because we wanted to stay in the conference race," said coach Fang Mitchell, whose Eagles are ++ second in the MEAC behind Delaware State. "We're getting in a groove, and we're playing a lot better on the defensive end and causing turnovers."
Coppin won Saturday despite shooting just 39.7 percent from the field. Coppin, despite the poor shooting, looks to have recovered from a tough pre-conference schedule.
"We just needed to get into some kind of rhythm, and we needed some wins, something we were not getting early in the season," Mitchell said. "Right now, we're getting wins, and that's what we needed. It's been a struggle to get to .500, and we're not even there yet."
* The University of Maryland's basketball advertising slogan is "No lights, no cameras, just action." But after Walt Williams went down with a broken foot, some may have felt it could have become "No lights, no cameras, no action." But there was plenty of action in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, as the Terrapins came from 19 down to beat South Florida, 87-81.
Trailing, 49-32, at halftime, the Terrapins were sparked by Garfield Smith, who scored 15 of his 17 in the second half, and Cedric Lewis, who had 10 of his 12 blocks (tying his brother, Derrick, for the school record) in the final 20 minutes. Lewis scored 16, and Matt Roe led the Terrapins with 23.
"With all that's happened to this program the last few years, it would have been easy for them to give up," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "But they didn't."
* The way it looked in the second half of a loss against UMES nine days ago, it didn't appear Morgan State would win a game this season. But, after dropping their first 14, the Bears will take a two-game winning streak into Thursday's game at Coppin.
It's no coincidence that the two wins come when the team has begun to shoot better and received consistent scoring from someone other than forward Glenn Smith.
The Bears (2-14, 2-4) shot a season-high 58.6 percent from the field in Saturday's 90-84 win over Bethune-Cookman. Forward Marcus Sheffield returned from a leg injury two games ago and scored 22 Saturday, and guard Ural Hogans, a 9.0 scorer, had 41 points in the two wins.
"This really feels great," Sheffield said after Saturday's win. "Ural is doing the job for us. He's coming through the way we expected him to."
* In other Saturday night games, Loyola (6-10) dropped to 0-6 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference after an 83-56 loss at Iona; UMBC (1-15, 0-3 in the ECC) lost for the 14th straight time to Rider, 82-61; and Navy (5-11, 1-4 in the Colonial Athletic Conference) lost at George Mason, 93-82.
Among the winners were Mount St. Mary's (6-10, 4-2 in the Northeast Conference), which got 19 points from Alex Watson in beating Marist, 76-71; and UMES, an 87-69 winner over South Carolina State.
* Player of the Week: Coppin's Stewart, who scored 64 and had 36 rebounds in two wins.
Before setting the career highs on Saturday, Stewart scored 27 and grabbed 15 rebounds in Monday's win over UMES. Last season's MEAC Player of the Year, Stewart is averaging 21.7 points and 13.0 rebounds.
* Game of the Week: Morgan State and Coppin State at the Coppin Center in a cross-town rivalry.