Going into the season without the services of Larry Stewart and Reggie Isaac for the first time in three years, Coppin State basketball coach Fang Mitchell labeled this a season to "reload or rebuild." He had no idea he would have to attempt to reload without point guard Larry Yarbray, the school's all-time assist leader.
Yarbray has been suspended from the team indefinitely by Mitchell after not reporting to his team's past three practices. The 6-foot senior from Chester, Pa., has not been seen since Tuesday's 76-68 win over Winthrop College, when he was pulled out of the game after the first minute of the second half.
"As far as I'm concerned, I really can't see any reason for this, so I'm left with no choice but to suspend him indefinitely," said Mitchell, who put his team through a four-hour practice yesterday. "I told him we had to have him playing better, the way he was two years ago, when I felt he was one of the best point guards in the country. If we can't get him back that way, then we have a problem."
In his best season two years ago, Yarbray made the all-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference second team, as he averaged 8.9 points and 7.3 assists. But his statistics tailed off last season (5.4 points, 5.4 assists), and Mitchell challenged him to do more this season with just two starters returning. But Yarbray didn't score in Coppin's opener, missing his first four shots with three early turnovers against Winthrop, and now he's gone, leaving Mitchell to go with sophomore James Mazyck at the point this week, which includes a Saturday game at Oklahoma.
"The future's now for a lot of these kids," Mitchell said. "They're hungry, and they want to play. I have a lot of confidence in these individuals."
They went into Saturday's game at sixth-ranked North Carolina without the services of their top point guard, but with freshman Terrance Alexander filling Devin Boyd's void nicely, the Towson Tigers were able to walk away from the Dean Smith Center with respect.
Alexander, playing most of his minutes at the point, came off the bench to score 17 in an effort that would appear to put Towson's point guard position in pretty good hands.
"We don't recruit substitutes. If you're good enough to be recruited here, you're good enough to play," said Towson State coach Terry Truax. "Terrance was recruited at the 2 guard, with the idea he would play some point. He's such a good athlete that he's really picked up our system."
Terrance Jacobs led the Tigers with 28 points, and Chuck Lightening added 27. The two continued their streak of playing well against top teams: In games dating to last season against North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse and Alabama, Lightening and Jacobs have averaged 22.2 and 22.1 points, respectively.
Morgan lost its first 14 games last season, and based on the performance Saturday against Radford, it would appear that the feat could be duplicated.
The Bears were flat in losing their fourth straight, 95-60. Playing with a team that has just three returnees from last season, Morgan has allowed opponents to score more than 100 twice -- last season they allowed 100 just three times.
"I have to teach these kids fundamentals," second-year coach Michael Holmes said, "and right now they don't have it."
Also losing Saturday were Navy (82-77 in overtime at William & Mary) and Maryland-Eastern Shore (90-65 at Liberty).
Navy is 1-2, and UMES dropped to 0-4. With previous defeats at Iowa (101-45), Iowa State (114-59) and Maryland (115-60), UMES is losing by an average of 55.3.