Each season is getting harder and harder for N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton to fill out a non-conference schedule.
The phone rang off the hook when the men’s basketball program first reclassified to Division I status and mostly lived on the road for five years. But now that Moton has built a winning a program, the silence is deafening.
“We just finished our schedule a couple of days ago,” Moton said recently during a MEAC teleconference. “The toughest thing for us is getting games. When we transitioned to Division I, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing.”
But Moton happily will take the snub if it means the Eagles can keep building on their success.
And now that Eagle Nation has tasted that success, Moton says there’s no turning back.
“Expectations never change,” said Moton whose team is picked to repeat as conference champs. “Guys are not allowed to mention the words ‘last year’ because this is not last year. We’re not defending anything.”
NCCU had a season for the record books in 2013-14. The Eagles won 28 games, a tie for most in school history, including a win over N.C. State; won their first MEAC championship; and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time as a Division I member.
Moton has several big shoes to fill.
Gone are NCCU’s all-time assists leader Emanuel “Pooh” Chapman and MEAC Player of the Year Jeremy Ingram, among others.
Returning veterans Jordan Parks and Karamo Jawara will be called on to lead the cast of newbies, Moton said.
As usual, the Eagles roster is chock full of transfers: Nimrod Hilliard (Lamar), Rashaun Madison (New Mexico Junior College) and Anthony McDonald (Mississippi Valley State). Jamal Ferguson (Marquette), Nate Maxey and Enoch Hood (James Madison) sat out last season.
“I had to go out and get some pieces to try to duplicate the performance of last year,” Moton said.
The Eagles open their season on Friday, Nov. 14, 8 p.m. at UNC-Chapel Hill in a game to be televised on ESPNU.