banner
Adam Gold

One more hurdle

Posted March 14

NC Central head coach LeVelle Moton sits down with his team during their game against NC State at the PNC Arena, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.

Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina and Syracuse lost quarterfinal games and left town after just one night's stay. Here's hoping they didn't have the same four-night minimum as those of us in the media. Hate to waste all that money. In the grand scheme of things, however, it doesn't really matter all that much because the Tar Heels and Orange are both headed for the NCAA Tournament. Selection Sunday is a formality, apart from the travel arrangements, because what they've done between November 8 and Friday is enough.

Completely different story in Norfolk, Virginia where North Carolina Central is getting ready to play the most important game of their season. At 6:00, at the Scope, LeVelle Moton's Eagles will play Morgan State for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title. Never mind that Central is 27-5 on the season. Forget about the fact that the Eagles have won 19 straight games since January 11 -- a 3-point loss at Florida A & M. Ignore the fact that NCCU has a win at NC State, and very competitive losses at Cincinnati, Maryland and Wichita State, the last of which is 34-0 and headed for a number 1 NCAA Tournament seed on Sunday.

What happened over the last four and half months doesn't matter for Moton's team. "They don't care about our body of work", Moton said about the tournament selection committee. "We have to win our conference tournament, or we know what that means."

Such is life at the lower level of division 1 basketball.

That doesn't mean the Eagles aren't a good basketball team. You don't win 19 straight games in any conference without being good. I'm not arguing that they deserve a spot in the field should they lose to the Bears on Saturday night. And, I'm certainly not going down the rabbit hole of questioning why the smaller conferences choose to reward what you do on one weekend over what you did during an entire season. Those conversations are separate from what the Eagles face a few hours from now.

For Moton's team, the NCAA Tournament began on Wednesday, when they faced Howard. Then, following their 92-46 (yes, you read that score correctly) destruction of the Bison, the NCAA tournament continued with Friday's game against Norfolk State. For the second time in eight days Central took on the Spartans, in their city, and for the second time they had their way. Such is the mission of the Eagles.

It was a similar mission a year ago when Central rolled through the MEAC with a 15-1 record, earning the number 2 seed in the conference tournament. Unfortunately, the road to Selection Sunday had a pothole as their arch rival, the Aggies of N.C. A&T stunned the Eagles in their conference tournament opener sending them home for good.

This year, there's a bit of a safety net. Since the NCAA took over running the National Invitation Tournament a few years ago, they instituted a rule that says regular season champions who fail to win their league's post season tournament will receive automatic bids into the NIT.

Sweet.

With all due respect, no one cares.

Sure, if it doesn't go well against Morgan State, Moton will get his team ready for the consolation tournament. And, because Moton is one of the elite motivators in coaching, he'll have his team ready in the event that such is their fate.

But, Jeremy Ingram, the league's player of the year, deserves to play in the NCAA Tournament. Emanuel Chapman, the senior point guard from Raleigh does as well. But, I don't want to single out players here, because there are a lot of guys, regardless of class who have given their sweat to help the Eagles get to the precipice of their goal.

Ingram is the first Central player in almost 20 years to be named conference player of the year. The last? LeVelle Moton. In 1996, he was the best that the division-2 CIAA had to offer. Five years ago, with his Alma Mater struggling with the shift back up to the highest level of college ball, Moton took over a program that had won a total of 8 games in their first two transitional seasons.

In year one, Moton guided the Eagles to a 7-22 record, a very modest improvement, but a step up nonetheless. Then it was 15 wins. Then 17. Last year's team finished 22-9, but as I pointed out earlier, the end was tainted with the bad taste of a disappointing loss. Saturday, Moton's team stands 40 minutes from realizing a dream. As a player, Moton didn't have the chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Last year, as a coach, he brought the team close, so close.

Close enough that the sting is still fresh in their minds. "You never want to feel that pain", Moton says, "but it's also a great motivator to make sure that you don't leave anything to chance." With back to back wins by a total of 69 points, it certainly seems like nothing is being left to chance.

Now, Central just needs to do it all over again. Because unlike North Carolina and Syracuse, Central's 27-5 body of work is meaningless. The only thing that matters is Saturday night in Norfolk.

5 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Mar 15, 10:12 a.m.

    Adam, when Carolina lost their opening ACCT game, they lost their chance to play in Raleigh in... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesArrrgh

    when Carolina lost their opening ACCT game, they lost their chance to play in Raleigh in the NCA... View More

    — Posted by 903 Hail Providence

    Ha ha ha. I think the fat lady and the Swoff are singing - there's NO WAY Carolina gets to play in the PNC. If that happens, I'll change my screen name to "Gunny loves 903" :)

  • 903 Hail Providence Mar 15, 8:51 a.m.

    Adam, when Carolina lost their opening ACCT game, they lost their chance to play in Raleigh in... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesArrrgh

    when Carolina lost their opening ACCT game, they lost their chance to play in Raleigh in the NCAAT, and that does matter

    It ain't over the the fat swoff says it's over... UNC may have lost, but that doesn't change the most important factor in all of this - that UNC will fill more seats in PNC than UVA and Duke combined...

  • jdpridg Mar 15, 7:40 a.m.

    The entire triangle (and state) is pulling for you. Do us all a favor... Blow these guys out of the water and silence all these media jokers making excuses as to why you won't get in. State fan to the Eagles... Go get em! We are proud of you.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Mar 15, 7:09 a.m.

    Adam, when Carolina lost their opening ACCT game, they lost their chance to play in Raleigh in the NCAAT, and that does matter.

    More importantly, I really hope Central does punch their ticket to the Dance today. Moton has done a remarkable job and it would be such a shame if they lose ONE game and get left out. Again. Central beat State, and they could beat plenty of other teams in the ACC as well. They deserve to eat at the adult's table, not the kid's table. Good luck, Eagles!

  • Toddler10-21 Mar 15, 5:50 a.m.

    It would be a shame if the eagles don't make the dance. This program has come along way. Although I like watching the conference tournaments, the NCAA seem to forget what teams did in the regular season. What NCCU has done the last two years mean nothing if you don't win your conference tournament. If you handle your business in the regular season then the tournament doesn't matter. NCCU has one vote for the top twenty five. They should be a lock. Go Eagles!

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
1st OT
LAL 86
DEN 86
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
ORL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
PHO
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
Final
NE 65
MAN 51
Final
COLST 75
MERC 62
Final
MISS 80
NARZ 74
Final
WASH 76
PAC 69
 
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
Final
CHAR 58
MIAMI 77
Final
GAELS 72
UCI 69
Final
ILLST 64
ODU 45
Final
UCLA 77
LBSU 63
 
2nd
SEAT 51
MONT 45
 
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
1:30pm Today
WEBER
NEV
 
2:30pm Today
FRES
EVAN
 
2:30pm Today
KYST
PURD
 
4:00pm Today
LSU
CLEM
 
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
DILL
 
4:30pm Today
CHIST
UGST
 
4:30pm Today
DET
MDES
 
5:00pm Tonight
ARZ
MIZZ
 
5:30pm Tonight
INDST
PEAY
 
6:00pm Tonight
FLGC
MAR
 
6:00pm Tonight
LALAF
UWMIL
 
6:30pm Tonight
ODU
GWEBB
 
7:00pm Tonight
MD
ARST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BUCK
 
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WINT
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
GSOUT
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
BST
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
APP
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
XAV
MURST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
MSU
SCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
SAV
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENT
SELA
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
VILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WCU
 
7:30pm Tonight
IND
EWASH
 
8:00pm Tonight
ILL
BRO
 
8:00pm Tonight
MSST
CLAYST
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
IOWA
PEPP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
PVU
 
8:00pm Tonight
KU
RIDE
 
8:00pm Tonight
BAY
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
A
 
8:30pm Tonight
USF
HAW
 
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAM
PITT
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
 
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
 
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
 
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
Final
ANA 2
ARI 1
Final
VAN 4
CHI 1
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
PIT
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
 
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
Final
NYG 28
DAL 31
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NYJ
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
BAL