Sims, defense step up for Coppin

Soph's 21 points help overwhelm Fla. A&M, 71-61

February 15, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

There's a new force on the Coppin State basketball team and he comes from a familiar recruiting pipeline for coach Fang Mitchell.

His name is Rasheem Sims and he hails from Philadelphia, which has been very kind to Mitchell during a successful 14-year run that has produced a 251-156 record at the little school on North Avenue.

Sims, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Simon Gratz High, has been on a 12.8-point scoring march in the last nine games and seems to be peaking for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, which opens in three weeks in Richmond, Va.

Sims has been even hotter in the last three games, scoring 50 points even though he was held to six three nights ago by Bethune-Cookman.

Sims continued to sizzle last night in a 71-61 MEAC victory over Florida A&M at the Coppin Center, rolling up 21 points in a defensive-minded game before a quiet crowd of 477.

So why has Sims suddenly stolen a lot of thunder away from usual Coppin stars such as Jorge Cajigas, Kofi Pointer and Joe Brown?

"My foot is completely healed now and I'm much stronger all over," said Sims, who broke his foot last season and aggravated the injury in the preseason this year. "I've worked really hard on conditioning to get to this point. Also, I'm being a lot more aggressive out there. That is the key."

Sims brought a smile to Mitchell's face going 10-for-10 from the line last night and 5-for-9 from the floor for the 21 points and he had two assists and one block.

"Rasheem can score if he needs to score," said Mitchell. "It's not like we've decided to go to him a lot. It's just happening for him now. The main thing now is that I'm seeing some areas of improvement on this team. We won this game with defense. Now we need to focus on playing with consistency."

Coppin State (10-5, 10-14 MEAC) seemed to overwhelm Florida A&M (5-19, 4-9) at times last night with its defensive intensity. Also, the Rattlers were hurt by the early foul trouble incurred by former Annapolis High standout Germaine "Boo" Diggs. The 6-8 forward collected his third foul with 18: 44 left in the game and eventually fouled out with 8: 10 remaining.

Diggs did thrill the crowd in the second half with an alley-oop dunk and finished with eight points.

Pointer (18 points) and Brown (13) followed Sims as Coppin scoring leaders.

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