As soon as basketball practice began, N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton laid down the law.
There would be no mention of last season’s success. Nothing about a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship, a trip to the NCAA Tournament, numerous player and coach of the year awards or a record-tying win season. Nothing. Zero.
Last year was last year, Moton said during a preseason teleconference. Most of these guys weren’t on that team, so they havent accomplished anything. It’s a new season, and nobody cares what you did last year.
We respectfully disagree.
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NCCU is still reaping the benefits of the men’s basketball success in a year that catapulted the Eagles as the darlings of Durham. 2014 was a very good year in Eagles athletics.
Stuck dab in the middle of ACC country, NCCU, arguably, had the better season of any of the three Triangle ACC schools. Neither Duke, North Carolina nor N.C. State won the ACC Tournament.
Mercer unceremoniously dumped the Blue Devils in the first round of the Big Dance. The Tar Heels forgot to call time out in the waning seconds and lost to Iowa State in the second round. The Wolfpack did overachieve by getting into the tournament, but all anybody is going to remember is losing a double-digit lead late in the second half to St. Louis in an overtime loss.
Only the Eagles got to visit the Governor’s Mansion.
About the only thing to mar the season was an overturned cup of coffee that scalded 2-year-old LeVelle Jr. the night before the Eagles were to leave for the tourney. He’s fully recovered.
So Moton may want to put the 2013-14 season in the rearview mirror, but for those of us who hitched along for the ride, were not ready to give up our seat just yet.
Anything you can do
Not to be outdone, first-year coach Jerry Mack revitalized the Eagles football program. NCCU had just two winning seasons since reclassifying to Division I-FCS in 2007.
Mack took an undisciplined program in disarray and turned it into a MEAC contender. NCCU won four of its last five games, including a victory over archrival N.C. A&T, to finish 7-5 overall, 6-2 MEAC, and earn a share of the conference title.
This by a team that was predicted to finish eighth in the league.
Bigger isnt always better
The little guys from the Big Eight 3-A Conference played in some mighty big shoes.
Led by Southern, the conference was 9-1 against the PAC 6 4-A Conference. Their biggest threat was against each other.
Orange had lost three games in two seasons all to the Spartans until this year’s playoff loss to eventual 3-A high school champion Northern Guilford.
Chapel Hill hadn’t defeated Southern almost two seasons until the Tigers played the game of a lifetime and knocked off the defending champs and ended their 27-game winning streak.
But despite their upset loss, the Spartans, and senior quarterback Kendall Hinton, were the most exciting high school team in the Triangle.
Despite obstacle and obstacle, Pat Nobles and the all-volunteer staff of the Long Ball Program Durham Triple is still holding on.
The staff received several honors this year and some much-needed funds to boot. The baseball program for inner-city males now is a part of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, a Major League Baseball program that continues to provide life skills lessons as well as baseball training.
Nobles never gave up on the young men, and neither should we.