Without home, Morgan's year not so sweet Field house fix-up leaves Bears with 2-year road trip, gives Coppin 6-block walk

Basketball notebook

January 10, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

News bulletin.

Coppin State, the visitor, is traveling six blocks to Baltimore City Community College this afternoon to meet Morgan State, the home team, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference basketball game.

This is no joke.

It has to be one of the shortest "road trips" in the history of NCAA Division I basketball.

But no one is laughing much.

Least of all, Morgan State.

The words "home team" are just a necessary label for the Bears these days.

Morgan State is really homeless and in the midst of a seemingly endless two-year journey while its home court, Hill Field House, is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation project.

"I've never seen anything like this," said exasperated Morgan coach Chris Fuller. "But we'll deal with it because we have to."

Fuller is in his third year as coach at Morgan and finds it especially tough to deal with not having a home court because of his coaching background at Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y.

"At Erie we had three campuses and three gyms," said Fuller, who expressed disappointment over Morgan's inability to find a larger replacement home court than the old Community College of Baltimore gym (now BCCC) that seats only 1,000.

Loyola College, Towson University and UMBC were all considered as excellent temporary facilities for the Bears.

But Morgan athletic director Garnett Purnell said those three schools had too many scheduling conflicts to accommodate the Bears.

"They were very generous and tried hard to handle our needs," Purnell said. "But with men's and women's basketball being played at all three schools and other activities along with practices, it was impossible to work it out. We're like a band of Gypsies."

Fuller said, "Nobody is going to move out of their gym to accommodate you unless you ask them far in advance."

The Hill Field House project will not be finished until February 1999, meaning Morgan's basketball teams will have to continue to scrounge for practice sites as well as playing "home" games at BCCC for another season after this one.

The women are practicing at an armory in Towson and the men at Gilman School.

The Morgan men also have had to move a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference home game on Feb. 21 with South Carolina State from BCCC to Gilman because of a scheduling conflict.

The off-the-court problems have shown on the court, where Morgan is 2-10 overall and 2-2 in the conference.

"It's all about repair for our team, not replacement," Fuller said. "Our stats tell why we're losing, and as soon as our players decide they want to do something about it, things will change."

Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said of the game between Morgan and his Eagles (4-6, 2-0): "It may be around the corner but it's still a road trip because it's not in our surroundings. The floor and rims are different and Morgan plays and practices there."

L Morgan is allowed to practice at BCCC the day before a game.

Fast break for Catonsville

The Catonsville Community College men's team (11-1) is again seriously contending for a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championship under fourth-year coach Luke D'Alessio.

The Cardinals have been ranked in the top five in the final National JuCo Division II poll in each of the first three seasons under D'Alessio.

Catonsville is No. 5 this season in the Division II poll but is expected to move up Monday when the next poll comes out.

Sophomore 6-foot-5 point guard Garland Ragler, a preseason JuCo Division II All-American, leads Catonsville with 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds a game.

Other top Cardinals are freshman guard Omar Smith of City (16.8 points), sophomore guard Owain States of Poly (15.5) and freshman center Billy Epps of Woodlawn (team-leading 12.5 rebounds).

Pub Date: 1/10/98

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