For coach Holmes, Morgan State, the flavor of the month is rocky road Bears start season with 10-game trip

December 26, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- They have lost close games and blowouts. They have played in big arenas and little gyms. They have traveled by planes, trains and automobiles.

Morgan State's season-opening, confidence-eroding, 10-game road trip continues tonight at 8 p.m., when the 0-6 Bears take on the University of Maryland (5-1) at Cole Field House.

"I don't think there's anybody in the country that has had the kind of schedule we've had," said Michael Holmes, Morgan State's third-year coach.

Though the Bears haven't crisscrossed the country like some teams -- the farthest they've traveled was to St. Louis -- it's not exactly the kind of schedule Holmes envisioned.

Life on the road isn't easy. There's hostile fans in some places, overwhelming talent in others. But the one constant that Holmes says he has found are officials who are biased to the home team.

"I'm hoping that if we get beat, it's because the other team played better than we did," said Holmes. "That hasn't always been the case. Most officials are not going to watch the home team. They're going to watch us."

Big East officials were apparently watching the Bears closely last week against Georgetown at the Capital Centre, when the Hoyas shot 60 free throws (making 42) in a 103-85 win.

It was the second time this year that one of Morgan State's, uh, hosts, shot 60 times from the foul line. It was also the second time that the Bears, who have only nine healthy bodies, finished the game with four players.

Sophomore center James White, the team's leading rebounder and its second-leading scorer, has yet to finish a game. White fouled out of four. He also was thrown out three minutes into a 105-80 loss to St. Joe's and was suspended the following night, along with Matt Burrell.

"The game they played against Georgetown, the foul situation was ridiculous," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "I thought they played very well against them."

Holmes can't wait until his team gets home, but that won't happen until the Bears play UMES on Jan. 16. He also can't wait until sophomore guard Obadiah Johnson, last year's leading scorer, gets back Jan. 9 with his badly blistered shooting hand healed.

"We're a better team than we have to show for it," said Holmes, who has recruited well the past two years, bringing in point guard Vince Langston from Los Angeles this season. "We're a lot better than we were last year."

It has been a struggle for Holmes, 39, ever since he came to Morgan State from Florida A&M, where he'd been an assistant for three years. A former head coach for seven years at Benedict College, an NAIA school in South Carolina, Holmes thought he knew what was in store.

But he didn't know entirely about the internal problems in the school's athletic program, which came to light earlier this year with the near-coup of football coach Ricky Diggs. Still, Holmes seems undaunted.

"I have always been in situations where things seemed so insurmountable that we couldn't win," said Holmes, who is 13-51 at Morgan State.

With only one full-time assistant -- UMES, for example, has two for the first time this year -- Holmes is as much academic counselor and psychologist as coach. So, it's notsurprising that Holmes passed on the responsibility of scheduling to former athletic director Leonard Braxton, who recently left to become track and field coach at Arizona State.

One of the reasons that Morgan State hasn't had a home game was Maryland. The Bears were scheduled to play Division II Millersville in early December, but the Terps wanted another home game. So, Maryland bought out Millersville and put Morgan State on its schedule.

Said Williams: "It's like the Houston Astros last summer, when they had the Republican convention. It's a tough situation, but it can ignite you."

Morgan State is still looking for the match. And its first victory.

On the road again

Date .. .. .. Opponent .. .. .. Result

Dec. 1 .. .. .. at George Mason .. .. Lost, 76-63

Dec. 4 .. .. .. at St. Joseph's* .. .. .. Lost, 105-80

Dec. 5 .. .. .. vs. Delaware State* .. .. .. Lost, 102-85

Dec. 9 .. .. .. at Radford .. .. .. .. Lost, 104-97

Dec. 12 .. .. .. at St. Louis .. .. .. Lost, 101-75

Dec. 19 .. .. .. at Georgetown .. .. .. Lost, 103-85

Tonight .. .. .. at Maryland

Dec. 30 .. .. .. at Virginia Tech

Jan. 9 .. .. .. at South Carolina State

Jan. 11 .. .. .. at North Carolina A&T

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