It's amazing what a win can do. At Morgan, it can even cool off burning questions about leading scorer Glenn Smith.
Where is Smith and why hasn't the former City College star played in Morgan's last two games? Why hasn't he even been on the bench?
Smith is a 6-foot-6 sophomore who leads Morgan in scoring with a 16.4 average that ranks No. 13 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Doesn't Michael Holmes know that it's unhealthy for a coach to neglect to use his No. 1 scorer?
Citing disciplinary reasons, Holmes held Smith and senior Marcus Sheffield out of Saturday's loss to South Carolina State. Sheffield was on the bench in uniform, but there was no sign of Smith.
Sheffield's banishment was brief. A reserve most of the season but the team's No. 2 scorer at 14.3 and leading rebounder at 7.7, Sheffield moved into the starting lineup last night in Smith's absence.
The 6-8 senior from Jacksonville, Fla., scored 19 points and snatched 10 rebounds as Morgan stunned North Carolina A&T, 101-94, before 1,350 at Hill Field House.
The Bears (6-20, 6-9 MEAC) had dropped five of their previous six games and had lost their first meeting with North Carolina A&T in January by 13. The Aggies (16-8, 9-5) fell behind at the outset, 16-5, and never could catch up. And this is the team that is second only to Coppin State in the MEAC standings.
Clearly, Morgan didn't miss Smith that much last night. After the game, Holmes was subjected to a brief interrogation about his top scorer. He acknowledged that Smith is alive, well and attending class, and conceivably could return for Saturday's regular-season finale against Howard and/or the MEAC tournament Feb. 28 to March 2 in Norfolk, Va.
"Glenn missed a couple practices," Holmes said. "If you don't practice, you don't play.
"We're trying to get these players acclimated to a certain discipline in the hope they'll gain maturity. If they do, we'll have a good program down the road."
Was that all Smith did, miss a few practices?
"That's some of it," Holmes said coyly. "The rest I don't want to get into."
When will Smith rejoin the team?
"Let's hope soon," Holmes said.
For Saturday's Howard game?
"We'll see," he said.
For Sheffield, the last 15 months have been bittersweet.
He was obliged to miss last season and the first part of this one because of academic deficiencies. Then, just as he was making his mark, scoring at a fair clip and collecting rebounds, he incurred Holmes' displeasure by missing a practice last week.
Sheffield's return was a joyous one. The entire team played well, as Steven Haynes outdid himself with 27 points, followed by James McCoy (19 points and 11 assists) and Sheffield, with his cluster of points and rebounds.
Holmes noted that the Bears kept their turnovers down, holed 16 of 22 free throws and shot 59 percent from the floor, compared with their season-long percentage of 42.
"It was the first time we've played completely," Holmes said. "We made almost no mistakes."
"The guys coming off the bench were prepared, too," Sheffield said. "They gave us a spark. We picked up the slack left by Glenn by pushing the tempo faster and trying to get easy buckets."