Tournaments at a glance

March 08, 2004|By Kent Baker and Bill Free

Tournaments at a glance

Men

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Sites: Opening rounds at Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond, Va.; quarterfinals through final at Richmond (Va.) Coliseum

When: Today through Saturday

2003 champion: South Carolina State

2004 favorite: South Carolina State. The Bulldogs and Coppin State tied for the regular-season title, but the defending champs get the No. 1 seed based on two victories over the Eagles. They're on a five-game winning streak and boast the league's Player of the Year in F Thurman Zimmerman and Rookie of the Year in G Brian Mason.

Dark horse: Delaware State. With three wins in their past four, the Hornets are playing well of late. F Terrance Hunter (12.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), an all-MEAC second teamer, and PG Miles Davis (9.0 ppg, 77 assists) provide a strong inside-out threat.

Player to watch: Zimmerman. The burly junior (18.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) is a well-rounded player who can score, rebound, pass, handle the ball, and run. He is clearly the force on a team which lost much of its inside strength and point man Moses Malone Jr., from last year's champions.

Outlook: It would be no surprise to see Coppin win the tournament.They'll be without freshman star Kelvin Green, but the Eagles won at Morgan without him and still have all-league G/F Jimmy Boykin. Morgan State did not avoid the play-in round, but will have a day to recover from the concrete-like floor at the Ashe Center if it beats Howard today. UMES' Tee Trotter barely missed the all-league first team again and will need to be at his best to carry the Hawks past the early going. This is a wide-open tournament, so the Maryland teams - particularly Coppin - are all good bets. Coppin's Fang Mitchell and Morgan's Butch Beard shared Coach of the Year honors.

Women

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Sites: Opening rounds at Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond, Va.; quarterfinals through final at Richmond (Va.) Coliseum

When: Today through Saturday

2003 champion: Hampton

2004 favorite: Delaware State. The Lady Hornets (19-8, 14-4) split the regular-season title with Hampton (14-12, 14-4) but earned the tournament's top seed via a margin-of-victory tiebreaker. They won that with a 19-point victory over the Lady Pirates in their first meeting of the season. Hampton is on a nine-game league winning streak, but Delaware State boasts G Mandy Clark and G Terrelle Waller, both juniors and both first-team All-MEAC picks.

Dark horse: Bethune-Cookman. This sixth-seeded team (13-13, 10-8) almost swept the season series from Coppinand also nearly upset Delaware State on the road before losing, 49-48. The Lady Wildcats are led by sophomore PG Katie Clark, who averages a team-leading 13.0 points and 4.2 rebounds. Senior F Lauren Forsthoff is the top rebounder at 8.5 a game.

Player to watch: Clark. This 5-foot-8 marvel from Milford Mill was a unanimous choice as MEAC Player of the Year, finishing second in the league in scoring (15.3 points a game), second in steals (3.0), fourth in free-throw shooting (78.0 percent), seventh in assists (3.1), and 10th in three-point shooting (27.2 percent).

Outlook: Third-seeded Coppin State (17-10, 13-5) has been overlooked this season, but the Eagles have enough talent to make a run for the title. They have the league's second-leading rebounder in Leisel Harry (10.5 rebounds a game) and the MEAC's leader in assists in Antoinette Reese (3.63 a game). Seventh-seeded Maryland-Eastern Shore (11-16, 6-12) is led by senior Tiffany Winkfield, the league's leading rebounder (10.7) and shot blocker (2.0), and junior Octavia Thompson, who leads the conference in three-point shooting at 38.2 percent.

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