It’s a new year, and a new conference basketball season. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has been ruled by Hampton for the past two seasons, but heading into the 2017 portion of the season, it looks like it could be anybody’s game.
After dominating the MEAC for a couple of seasons, NCCU fell off during the 2016 season but look to be the most complete team in the conference right now. LeVelle Moton has a veteran crew made up of many fourth and fifth year players who last season were trying to find out where they fit in.
Patrick Cole, who started his career at Coppin State and transferred to Siena before landing at NCCU, has been the best player in the conference all season, averaging 19.3 points, 7.3 points and 5.9 assists per game.
Cole has help on the perimeter with Dejuan Graff, who averaged 24 points per game while Cole sat out against a pair of NAIA opponents last week. Ron Trapps, a Coastal Carolina transfer, averaged 15 points in Cole’s absence. Big man Will Ransom could be a difference maker in conference play, as he can rebound and defend and is a capable scorer as well.
MEAC in The Middle
After NCCU, things get a bit murky. Nine MEAC teams enter conference play with just three wins, with two-time defending champion Hampton and predicted conference champ Howard.
Howard was predicted to win the conference behind preseason Player of The Year James Daniel. However, Daniel has yet to suit up for the red, white and blue as a high ankle sprain has kept him sidelined so far. And if playing without the nation’s leading scorer wasn’t enough, another key component in JT Miller is at least two weeks away from getting back on the court after breaking his hand earlier this season. It’s been a disappointing start after so much hype heading into the season, but if everyone is healthy come March, HU could still be dancing.
Hampton lost much of its point production from the last two seasons heading into the season, so it’s not surprising that its record is less than stellar. But considering 12 members of the team are in their first or second year on a college court, they aren’t doing that bad. They are 3-2 at home, but 0-6 on the road. It will be interesting to see how quick the young Pirates can grow up.
Another three win team to watch is Morgan State. MSU has a pair of Division I wins against Campbell and Manhattan, and they’ve got three double-figure scorers. Junior Tiwian Kendley is averaging just shy of 23 points per game and Phillip Carr isn’t far behind at 18.2 ppg while shooting a sizzling .503 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. This team could do some damage in conference play.
And we can’t forget Savannah State who also comes in with just three wins, but one of them came against Oregon State.
Lonely At The Bottom
The remaining four teams in the MEAC (FAMU, UMES, A&T and Coppin St.) are just 6-39 so far this season. Coppin and A&T have yet to defeat a Division I opponent this season.
Players To Watch
James Daniel, Howard
Pat Cole, North Carolina Central
Tiwian Kendley, Morgan State