Bowie men smile over rank, frown over regional seeding

No. 10 Bulldogs opening at noon today in Georgia

March 14, 2003|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

The Bowie State men's basketball team has hit the big time off the court.

The Bulldogs, ranked 10th in Division II this week, are being accorded the luxury of flying to a game for the first time in the history of the men's program.

All that prestige has coach Luke D'Alessio smiling these days.

But the frowning starts the moment D'Alessio starts thinking about the shabby way his team is being treated on the court as the eight-team South Atlantic regionals get under way at noon today in Columbus, Ga. - on the campus of top-seeded Columbus State (27-4 overall, 18-0 at home).

The host Cougars are ranked behind Bowie State nationally, coming in at No. 13 this week.

So why are the highly-ranked, second-seeded Bulldogs relegated to a noon game today at Lumpkin Center against seventh-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.)?

And, of course, D'Alessio is still steaming over Bowie (26-4) not being the top seed and having the right to host the tournament.

"I've never played at noon in any tournament," said D'Alessio, who coached some highly-regarded teams at the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville. "We should be playing at 6 o'clock. There's a combination of South Atlantic and NCAA officials who have handled everything in this tournament, and there're still a lot of old-time South Atlantic officials who aren't sure if we are a legitimate power."

D'Alessio believes those South Atlantic officials "don't want to see the tournament come this far north, but we obviously come from the strongest league [Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association], because we have four teams here."

The Bowie coach said he is not the only one who is unhappy.

"Lenoir-Rhyne [22-7] believes it should be seeded fourth," said D'Alessio. "That team is a lot like us. They shoot a lot of threes and have 6-8 and 6-6 players up front. One thing good is, we know we can go inside to Tim Washington [20 points a game, 9.1 rebounds] and Jon Smith [14.2, 7.1] if we aren't hitting our threes."

All of Bowie's starters are seniors with double-figure scoring averages. Point guard Cornelius McMurray carries a strong 7.2 assists per game average along with 10.2 points a game.

Small forward Stephen Moss-Kelley (6-6) averages 13.1 points and 6.4 rebounds, and shooting guard Omarr Smith checks in at 12.3 points a game. There are nine seniors on the squad, which averages 84.9 points on the court and has the highest collective grade-point average (2.76) of all 12 CIAA teams.

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