Coppin plays host to Morgan State in the new Physical Education… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
Fang Mitchell opened his second arena in 24 years at Coppin State on Saturday. When he emerged from his locker room in the early evening, he had to ask directions to the interview area in the spanking new Physical Education Complex.
Home-court advantage it isn't, at least not yet.
In fact, Morgan State came away with all the perks in an 80-67 win that opened a new era at Coppin before an announced 3,189 and another Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference basketball season. Perks? Reggie Holmes celebrated the first dunk of his four-year career at Morgan, courtesy of a breakaway pass from freshman DeWayne Jackson, and scored a game-high 24 points. Kevin Thompson, at 6 feet 8, dominated the inside game with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
At the end of the day, Morgan coach Todd Bozeman was able to put two straight losses behind him and celebrate his 46th birthday.
"It's a nice place," Bozeman said of Coppin's new facility. "I told our guys they're in the history books. Reggie got his first dunk in the new arena, and I'm sure his son will be proud of him for that."
Under Bozeman, Morgan (5-3) has had the upper hand in the crosstown rivalry with Coppin. This was the Bears' fourth straight win over the Eagles and sixth in seven games. Breaking in a new building was a good finish to a hard week of practice under Bozeman.
"It was hard and tough," Thompson (Walbrook) said. Harder and tougher than usual? "Yeah, because we lost two games."
It was a tough finish to a whirlwind week for Coppin (4-3). The Eagles didn't get on the floor to practice until a week ago and had only five practices before the formal unveiling.
"Today was the first day we could even walk around here," Coppin guard Vince Goldsberry said.
The Eagles will become closely acquainted with the new arena in short order. Mitchell's prescription for what ailed Coppin is a heavy dose of tough defense. Morgan pounded Coppin on the boards 47-31, and when Coppin's Sam Coleman (Mervo) showed a reluctance to rebound early in the second half, he spent the rest of the game on the bench.
Mitchell bemoaned the cheap fouls the Eagles gave up, sending Morgan to the line for 41 free throws (the Bears hit 28). But he had to be pleased with the performance of freshman Branden Doughty (four blocks, nine points, eight rebounds) and the hustle of Mount Carmel alum Ceslovas Kucinskas (15 points) and Goldsberry (14 points, five assists in 31 minutes off the bench).
"We threw the ball away 14 times, many in crucial situations," Mitchell said. "On defense, we've got to make stops, and we didn't make stops. The only time we did was when we fouled."
Bozeman could complain about Morgan's 17 turnovers, too, or its 8-for-25 shooting in the first half. Holmes (St. Frances) endured a slow start, hitting one of five shots from the field in the first half, then made up for it with 16 points in the second. The Bears shot 51.7 percent after a sluggish first half.
"That's a sign of maturity for Reggie," Bozeman said of his leading scorer. "He didn't panic, he didn't force shots. I'm proud of him. He came in as a freshman taking the 3 from the parking lot. Now he has a midrange game and more patience."
Said Holmes: Being patient "is what coach has been telling me the whole year."
MORGAN STATE-Jackson 3-9 3-5 11, Thompson 5-8 5-8 15, Stokes 1-4 5-6 7, Holmes 8-18 5-7 24, Thomas 2-4 1-3 5, D.Smith 0-2 4-5 4, Davis 1-6 4-5 7, Ali 3-3 1-2 7, Long 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-54 28-41 80.COPPIN STATE-Doughty 3-5 3-5 9, Kucinskas 6-8 3-5 15, Young 1-14 0-0 2, Jackson 1-5 2-2 4, Brown 2-10 2-2 8, Goldsberry 6-8 2-3 14, Reggins 1-4 0-0 2, Hayden 2-4 1-2 5, Coleman 4-5 0-0 8. Totals 26-63 13-19 67.Halftime-Morgan St. 34-25. 3-point goals-Morgan St. 6-18 (Holmes 3-7, Jackson 2-5, Davis 1-4, D.Smith 0-2), Coppin St. 2-15 (Brown 2-7, Goldsberry 0-1, Reggins 0-2, Jackson 0-2, Young 0-3). Fouled out-Jackson, Young. Rebounds-Morgan St. 47 (Thompson 14), Coppin St. 31 (Doughty 8). Assists-Morgan St. 12 (Thomas 4), Coppin St. 10 (Goldsberry 5). Total fouls-Morgan St. 17, Coppin St. 27. A-3,189.