Morgan State's long road ends with first home game tonight

January 16, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

The Morgan State men's basketball team has crisscrossed the Eastern and Central time zones in its first 10 games of the season, visiting places as varied as St. Louis to the west, Philadelphia to the north and Tallahassee, Fla., to the south.

But, tonight, the Bears will visit a spot that may look as unfamiliar as any they've seen: Hill Field House on the Morgan campus.

After 10 games on the road, the Bears play their first game of the season on their home floor against UMES, and no place could look finer to coach Michael Holmes.

"These guys have played 10 straight games away from here, and they've been here through Christmas and New Year's, so, yes, it's very good to be able to unpack our bags and stay for a while," said Holmes.

The Bears open their home schedule later than any other Division I school. Methodist College, a Division III school in Fayetteville, N.C., also plays its first home game tonight.

The Bears' 10-game road trip is the longest in Division I this season. Division III school New York Tech and Division II entrants Elizabeth City (N.C) State and Grand Canyon (Ariz.) each played 11 straight road contests.

Unlike Morgan, each of those schools played in at least three tournaments. The Bears played in one, the St. Joseph's Tournament in Philadelphia in early December. The rest of their games were single contests spread out over six weeks.

Morgan's plight isn't unusual for schools in the less-publicized conferences of Division I. They spend most of the first month of the season on the road in the gyms of bigger-name colleges, who use the revenues from the extra home games to help fund their athletic programs.

For example, Providence of the Big East Conference played its first seven games at home, and Clemson of the Atlantic Coast Conference stayed at Littlejohn Coliseum for seven of its first nine games. The Big Ten's Indiana played 10 of its first 15 games on its home court in Bloomington, including two tournaments and two games of the preseason National Invitation Tournament.

"The top 50 [schools in Division I] play 19 or 20 games at home," said Holmes. "It's a lot easier to try to get 20 wins in a year when you have 20 games at home."

Though the Bears are winless in nine decisions, Holmes said he was pleased with the team's progress.

"We win every day. I think we've made remarkable strides and we are right where we need to be in terms of development," said Holmes.

The Bears had more than their share of problems on the road.

The most visible were two fights, at the St. Joseph's tournament, in which Matt Burrell and Malik White were ejected and suspended for a game, and Monday's highly publicized brawl in Greensboro, N.C., against North Carolina A&T.

Monday's fight, which ended the A&T game in the first half and left each team with three eligible players, will keep Morgan forward Michael Brewer and guard Vince Langston out of tonight's game.

"The perception is that Morgan State likes to fight, and that's not true," said Holmes. "We've played 10 straight games on the road in very hostile situations. Our kids have been pushed and beaten on, and the officials have looked the other way. There have only been two confrontations and both have been on the road."

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