Howard Looks To Rebound In Game At FAMU
Tallahassee, FL—The Howard University men's basketball had hoped to extend their longest win streak of the season at three against Morgan State this past Monday, but the Bison came up short and eventually fell, 57-55 to the Bears in Burr Gymnasium.
Howard (6-19, 3-8 in the MEAC) had three opportunities to tie the game or perhaps win it in the last 11 seconds, but failed to convert, leaving a bitter taste in its mouth. But rather than dwell on the missed opportunity, Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry quickly turned his team's attention to this important Florida road swing which starts today against the Rattlers of Florida A&M University at 6 pm and ends in a Monday match-up with Bethune Cookman at 7:30 pm in Daytona Beach.
The Bison and FAMU are in a deadlock at 3-8 in the MEAC standings while Bethune Cookman is at 4-6. A sweep would improve Howard's seeding status for the upcoming tournament (March 11-15 in Norfolk, VA), but more importantly would help achieve the goal that Coach Nickelberry set a week ago of finishing strong down the stretch.
What is important to note is that the Bison have played the last few games without their starting backcourt of senior guard Calvin Thompson, who dislocated his foot in the win over Coppin State and Simuel Frazier, who suffered a severe hamstring four games ago. Both could be back for the tournament.
In the meantime, senior guard Tre Lee, normally a key reserve guard/forward, has stepped in and performed surprisingly well at the point guard position. The 6-3 senior from Hampton, VA, has provided leadership on the court by getting the ball to team-leading scorer Mike Phillips while also contributing scoring when needed.
Phillips, the team leading scorer, has rebounded from a mini slump and has been the go-to player in the Bison offense. Howard has also gotten some much-needed offense from senior reserve guard Anton Dickerson. Sophomore forward Prince Okoroh has also stepped up along with junior center Alfonso Leary, with his defense and rebounding, and from sophomore center Theodore Boyomo, with his rebounding.
In the absence of consistent scoring during the course of the season, Coach Nickelberry has stressed tough defense and consistent rebounding, where the Bison rank in the Top 5 in the MEAC.
The match-up could prove to be very interesting. The Rattlers (6-19, 3-8), who have dropped five in a row, rank among the conference leaders in scoring at 66 points per game but they are last in scoring defense, allowing almost 74 points per contest. It must be noted that during their five-game skid, the last four losses have been by an average of four points, including two by two points.
Howard and FAMU have split the past four games and are tied at 30 in the overall series.