Fang Mitchell hopes Coppin State men's basketball sees two games in Caribbean as business trip

Eagles head coach wants team to be focused, beginning with Friday's game vs. Southern Mississippi

December 18, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

The highlight of the Coppin State men's basketball team's slate of games this weekend is that it's in the Virgin Islands. The bad news is that it's not a vacation.

The Eagles (4-5) will face Southern Miss (9-1) on Friday and then play either Arkansas-Little Rock (3-6) or Jacksonville State (4-8) on Saturday in the British Virgin Island Tropical Shootout at the Multi-Purpose Sports Complex in Road Town, Tortola.

It will be the program’s first visit to the Caribbean since the 1993-94 season, when the Eagles took part in the San Juan Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The stay in the Virgin Islands is part of a stretch in which Coppin State will play five consecutive games on the road, and coach Fang Mitchell said his players have to make sure they don’t get distracted on what he calls a business trip.

“They’re going to be distracted either way. Life is that way anyway. So they’re going to have to make adjustments,” Mitchell said Tuesday. “But as far as we’re concerned, this is a five-game road trip, and we’re playing it one game at a time, and we’ve just got to get ready for it. We’ve got to create some consistency. We started out this year with all these new faces, and we have to make that adjustment. We can’t allow this to be a vacation. This is a work trip. Young people will have tendencies to make this a vacation, and I have to be conscious of that and get them to have a mindset that this is work.”

Fortunately, the opening game is an attention-grabber, with the Eagles facing a Golden Eagles team off to its best start since 2010-11. Southern Miss is paced by senior guard Neil Watson, who leads the team in scoring (11.7 points per game) and leads all active players in Conference USA in career assists (359) and steals (117).

“We have a tremendous task ahead,” Mitchell said. “This won’t be any different from some of the teams we’ve faced in the past. It continues our tough schedule. … [The Eagles] are up there with Memphis. So it’s going to be a tough challenge. Basically, you have to be ready to play. And if it’s anything like what we’re learning by going out here, it’s that there is no room for inconsistency. We have to go out and play to our capabilities each and every time out.”

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