“We got a bunch of players no one else wanted and we put together a team, and we’ve been traveling around the country for two years teaching people how to spell our name. This should take care of that. We’re there. We’re really there,” Mitchell said after the game.
“They gambled on us and came here when they didn’t know anything about the school. Now they’re getting paid off for gambling.”
The reward for a 26-6 record, beating bigger programs and winning the MEAC: A no. 15 seed and a date with the beasts from the Big East–Syracuse. The 1990 edition featured future NBA top draft pick Derrick Coleman and Billy Owens while being coached, of course, by Jim Boeheim.
The height difference was daunting. Coleman was listed as 6’10, 230 pounds, while Owens was right behind him at 6’9. Remember, Stewart was 6’7, while 6’5 Booth was left to battle Owens.
Coppin battled early, but a 14-0 run early in the second half gave ‘Cuse a 53-33 lead and eventually a 70-48 loss.
It was a dissappointing end to a great season. But it was far from the end of a great story. In less than one recruiting class, Coppin had gone from an afterthought to an emerging force in the MEAC and on the East Coast.
And as we all know, the best was yet to come. But it wouldn’t come quickly, or easily.