After his team's 90-69 win over Lincoln University last night, Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell was asked what pleased him most in the 21-point win.
"I was not impressed with our effort defensively, and I was not impressed with our execution offensively," he said. "If I was impressed with anything, the coach [Lincoln's Bobby Byars] sure did dress pretty nice."
Yes, it was one of those days for the Eagles, who, despite the wide margin of victory, were less than impressive in the win over the Division III school. Sure, four Coppin players scored in double figures -- including Tariq Saunders with 24 and Darren Woods with 16 as the team improved to 8-5. But Coppin's effort could best be described as lackluster as on several occasions the Eagles opened leads, only to watch them shrink.
"We played a Division III team and the guys felt the win was automatic," Mitchell said. "When you see the missed layups and easy jumpers, you know it's a lack of concentration."
The lack of concentration was evident early, after Lincoln forward Bruce Miller hit a three-pointer in the opening minutes while he was wide-open -- a no-no in Mitchell's tough-as-nails defensive scheme. The result was a Mitchell timeout, and a heated one-minute lecture heard by everyone in the Coppin Center.
"We were up 5-0 and they didn't do what they were supposed to do," Mitchell said. "Instead of going for the knockout punch, we let them back in the game."
After the early timeout, the Eagles went on a 17-5 run to take a 22-8 lead. But Lincoln outscored Coppin 9-2 in the final two minutes to cut the margin to 36-27 at the half.
Coppin's full-court press sparked an 11-0 run that made it 56-37 and put the game away. The Eagles, who scored 34 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, led by as many as 25 on their way to the win.
Forward Bruce Miller scored 34 points (13 of 26 from the field) for Lincoln.
The game marked the return of guard James Mazyck after a five-game suspension for missing a practice. In 20 minutes Mazyck scored 13 points.
Also playing well was point guard Larry Yarbray, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half.
Up next for Coppin is Florida A&M, last year's Mid-Eastern Athletic Association tournament champion and the pre-season favorite in the conference. Coppin will play that game on the road, where the gym has always been packed and the Rattlers always ready for the Eagles.
"A game is a game -- it's only a game," Mitchell said. "That's the way you always want to look at it. I'm just concerned about the way we play."