Mid-Eastern Athletic Conf. men's tournament

March 04, 1998|By Bill Free

Site: Yesterday's play-in game was at the Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond, Va. The rest of the tournament will be at Richmond Coliseum.

Play-in game

(8) Howard (6-13, 8-19) def. (9) Beth.-Cookman (1-18, 1-27), 79-77, OT

Today's quarterfinals

(2) S.C. State (16-2, 19-7) vs. (7) N. Carolina A&T (7-11, 8-18), 3 p.m.

4 (1) Coppin State (17-1, 19-7) vs. Howard, 8 p.m.

Tomorrow's quarterfinals

(3) Morgan State (11-7, 11-15) vs. (6) UMES (7-11, 9-17), 3 p.m.

(4) Florida A&M (8-10, 10-18) vs. (5) Del. State (7-11, 9-17), 8 p.m.

Friday's semifinals

Coppin State/Howard winner vs. Fla. A&M/Del. St. winner, 4 p.m.

Morgan State/UMES winner vs. S.C. State/ N.C. A&T winner, 6 p.m.

Saturday's championship game

Semifinal winners, noon

Local hopes: Coppin State is the league's marquee team and has won 12 straight and 16 of its last 17. But the defending-champion Eagles and last year's NCAA tournament darlings enter the MEAC tournament off a nearly disastrous performance last Saturday against a 1-27 Bethune-Cookman team that took Coppin to double overtime before falling, 92-89, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Four Coppin players fouled out of the tough win and coach Fang Mitchell can only hope his team got a major wakeup call. Leading Coppin scorer Antoine Brockington (21.1 points a game) is still bothered by tendinitis in his left knee.

For Morgan State, the big news is that leading scorer and rebounder Rasheed Sparks (15.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) returned to practice yesterday and will play tomorrow against Maryland-Eastern Shore, which lost both regular-season games to the Bears. When Sparks first went down, early in a 73-64 loss to South Carolina State Feb. 21, it was feared he had suffered a broken lower leg and would be out for the rest of the season, but it proved to be only a severe sprain and the talented junior vowed he would play in the MEAC tournament.

For UMES, it's been a struggle most of the season and things have been even tougher since the Hawks' best player, senior swing man Cryhten Langhorne, went out with a leg injury Feb. 21 in a 62-57 loss to Delaware State. Langhorne's status for the Morgan game is uncertain.

Team to beat: Coppin State just has too much talent and outstanding coaching for the rest of the league.

Team to avoid: Morgan State has Sparks back and an improved front line with 6-11 freshman Michael Canady now starting; also, a lot more depth has emerged in the last three weeks.

Star quality: Tendinitis or not, Brockington is still the premier player in the league and has proven it again the last few weeks with some big baskets in tough situations.

South Carolina State senior guard Roderick Blakney is a notch below Brockington. Blakney is very quick and has some dazzling moves, but doesn't have the consistent overall game that Brockington has.

Note: Hampton (11-7, 11-15) is not eligible to compete in the MEAC tournament because of an NCAA rule that states all new Division I entries must sit out eight years before becoming eligible for an automatic bid by winning a league tournament.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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