The HBCU Div. I basketball season began yesterday (Monday, Nov. 7) and the home cookin’ is already in full effect.
As has come to be expected, HBCU men’s basketball teams began the season on the road. That means match ups against high profile teams from Power Five conferences.
Alcorn State for example has 13 consecutive games before the new year away from Lorman, Mississippi. The first 11 games for SC State are on the road. Thirteen of Southern’s first 14 games are away from Baton Rouge.
The winning margins are usually very large in favor of those Power Five schools. But with most talented college players leaving for the profpessional ranks, many after just one year in college, the talent disparity is not as wide as it once was. As the years pass, the gaps narrow.
Home cookin’: The results
This happened in HBCU season-openers over the last two days. These are results from Monday.
SWAC member Arkansas-Pine Bluff led by 20 early, 29-9, before falling on the road at No. 14 TCU, 73- 72. TCU was picked fifth in the preseason by Big 12 coaches. UAPB is led by second-year head coach Solomon Bozeman.
MEAC member NC Central erased a 16-point first half lead to take the lead early in the second half en route to a 73-61 road loss at No. 18 Virginia of the ACC. NCCU head coach LeVelle Moton is entering his 13th season leading the Eagles.
Alcorn State of the SWAC trailed Ole Miss of the SEC 28-27 at the break. The Braves stayed within single digits for the first ten minutes of the second half before succumbing, 73-58. Second year head coach Landon Bussie has added HBCU legend Cy Alexander as an assistant with the Braves.
On Tuesday, SC State threw a big score into cross-state rival South Carolina in the debut of new coaches, Landon Paris of USC and Erik Martin of SCSU. Martin’s troops battled to the final buzzer but came up just short, 80-77.
Home cookin’: The evidence
There was one glaring statistic in each of these outcomes – foul shooting.
In the UAPB game vs. TCU, the Horned Frogs shot 38 free throws to the Golden Lions’ ten (10) – a discrepancy of 28 attempts between the two teams in a one-point game! Both teams shot over 20 times from behind the arc, but Pine Bluff was whistled for 22 fouls, while the homesanding Horned Frogs had just 11.
It was a little worse at John and Sandy Black Pavilion at Ole Miss. The Rebels had 28 trips to the line to 11 for the Braves. Ole Miss was in the double-bonus – that means two free throws for every foul – with just over 11 minutes left in the second half.
See a pattern here?
HBCU Basketball: Just the facts
This is not to make excuses for the HBCU teams losing these games on the road. This stuff is not made up. These are just glaring facts!
As tough as it is to play on the road before hostile crowds in packed arenas, the last thing any team needs is less than a fair shake from the men in stripes. Perhaps they are intimidated by the big schools, the big crowds and the big paydays that await them for calling games in big conferences.
With or without a square deal from the officials, it is obvious the gap is narrowing.
As my friend Dr. Kevin Butler, a longtime observer of college basketball particularly on the HBCU level says, “It’s only a matter of time, Mark my word.”