Made move on Feb. 15

N.C. A&T

March 15, 1995|By From Staff Reports Sun staff writers Alan Goldstein, Ken Murray and Paul McMullen contributed to this article.

Roy Thomas, who replaced Jeff Capel as coach of North Carolina A&T this season after more than a decade as a junior college coach, did not have any illusions about his new job.

"I knew it would take time to get the players' focus, especially seniors like John Floyd, Philip Allen, Tyrone Brice and Anthony Jones," said Thomas, whose Aggies will meet the East Regional's top seed, Wake Forest, tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. at the Baltimore Arena. "They had three different coaches in the last three years, and, of course, that means three different systems.

"But things began to jell in that Georgia Tech game [Feb. 15]. We played them right down to the wire and lost by four. That's when the team started to believe it could win the conference title again."

North Carolina A&T (15-14), of course, won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament for the second consecutive season, beating top-seeded Coppin State, 66-64, to earn the bid to the NCAAs.

Drexel's Holden hungry

Senior guard Brian Holden, who has started more games (87) than any other current Drexel player, is anxious to make amends for the Dragons' lackluster showing in the East Regional last year at USAir Arena in Landover, where they were ousted by Temple, 61-39.

"Playing against Temple's matchup zone, I was timid and gun shy," Holden said. "I had open shots, but instead of shooting, I penetrated or kicked it out. We were all humbled by that game.

"I remember going into halftime only four down and being satisfied. But they kicked our butts in the second half."

But Holden said things will be different when the Dragons test Oklahoma State tomorrow in Baltimore.

"I'm going in with confidence," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "This could be my last game. I'm going to play with a hunger and enthusiasm I didn't have last year."

A rushing Cowboy

At some point tomorrow, Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton will be hollering at junior point guard Andre Owens to slow it down.

With Bryant Reeves in the middle, the Cowboys don't feel a need to play up-tempo, but that's what Owens learned at Midland (Tex.) Junior College, the same two-year school that produced Mookie Blaylock.

Oklahoma State is Owens' fourth college in as many years. A native of South Bend, Ind., he played for Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College in 1991-92, and sat out 1992-93 while attending a junior college in Texas.

After Brooks Thompson was drafted by the Orlando Magic last season, point guard was considered a question mark for the Cowboys, but Owens is averaging 8.0 points and 7.0 assists.

Miscellaneous

Minnesota was the first of the eight teams playing at the Arena to arrive in Baltimore. The Golden Gophers landed at BWI Airport yesterday afternoon. Alabama, Oklahoma State and Saint Louis jetted in last night, and Drexel and Penn made the two-hour bus ride down I-95 from Philadelphia last night. North Carolina A&T and Wake Forest were to arrive at BWI this morning. . . . At No. 67, Minnesota is the lowest-ranked team in the RPI rating to receive one of the 35 at-large bids to the tournament. Saint Louis has an RPI ranking of 40.

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