There is only one player on a 2014 opening day NBA roster that played basketball at a historically black college or university. He is former Norfolk State center and 2011-12 MEAC Player of the Year, Kyle O‘Quinn, entering his third year with the Orlando Magic.O'Quinn
Since being taken in the second round of the 2012 Draft by the Magic, 48th overall, O‘Quinn has carved out a role as a valuable player on the Magic‘s front line.
He played in 57 games, starting five his rookie season averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. A year ago, he earned 19 starts in 69 games, and upped his numbers to 6.2 points and 5.3 rebounds and added 1.3 blocks per game.
Looking for better size on its front line, the 6-10 O‘Quinn started the Magic‘s first game Tuesday against the tall front line of the New Orleanas Pelicans. He picked up three quick fouls in the first quarter and later sprained an ankle that limited him to four points, two rebounds, five assists and three blocks in just 21 minutes.
“He turns his ankle, which could take away from the concentration and your goal of what you’re trying to do for the team,“ Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn was quoted on the Orlando website saying of O’Quinn, who had three fouls by the 5:17 mark of the first quarter.
“Kyle had some good possessions, but the foul trouble early got him not as physical as he wanted to be the rest of the game.“ That lack of physicality helped 6-10 budding New Orleans star Anthony Davis score 26 points, pull down 17 rebounds and block nine shots in an opening night 101-84 win. O‘Quinn was held out of practice on Wednesday, and did not play Thursday against Washington.
Role players like O‘Quinn have been the norm recently for black college players that made it in the NBA. Ben Wallace, Darryl Armstrong and Ronald Murray, like O‘Quinn, entered the league as role players and eventually played those roles well enough to become consistent contributors. Those same roles were played by the likes of Charles Oakley, Rick Mahorn, Anthony Mason and Lindsay Hunter before them.
Wallace, a former CIAA star undrafted out of Virginia Union, had the most success. The defensive enforcer, rebounder and all-around energy guy was the closest thing the league had seen on the court to the enigmatic Dennis Rodman though Wallace substituted cornrows, a blowout Afro and signature headban for Rodman‘s colored hair A diary of commentary on the world of Historically Black College and University Sports WALKING A FAMILIAR PATH Kyle O‘Quinn is not the first black college player having to find his way and place in the NBA and make-up. They were both hard hat, blue-collar workers, but while Rodman traded on flamboyance, Wallace was all business.
He carved out a star-studded 17-year NBA career particularly during a seven-year stretch as a crowd and fan favorite with the Detroit Pistons. “Big Ben,“ as he was called, was a four-time winner of the league‘s Defensive Player of the Year, four-time all-star and six-time all-NBA team member in addition to being one of the stalwarts on the rocksolid 2004 Pistons NBA championship team.
Armstrong, who played two years of basketball (and two years of football) at Fayetteville State of the CIAA, followed a similar path to success. The six-foot dynamo bounced around through several U.S. and overseas minor leagues before making his mark as a crafty floor general, defensive hawk and sparkplug during a nine-year stay in Orlando and over a 14-year NBA career.
He won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award and the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1999, thus becoming the first player in NBA history to win both awards simultaneously. During his time in Orlando, the team never posted a losing record, making the post-season seven times. Armstrong scored in doublefigures in four of five years in Orlando with a career-high 16.2 ppg. average in the 1999- 2000 season.
While Wallace and Armstrong made their money through hustle, grit and determination, Murray, the former CIAA and Div. II Player of the Year out of Shaw, made his dough getting buckets. Taken in the second round of the 2002 Draft by Milwaukee, Murray quickly gained a reputation as a confident scorer and lethal offensive weapon first subsituting for an injured Ray Allen in Milwaukee and later securing spots as an off-the-bench scorer for eight teams over an eight-year span.
Ironically, after stints playing in Turkey and the Ukraine, Murray was back in the states claimed by the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League last November and averaged over 21 points per game.
In his short stay in the league, O’Quinn has shown many of the same traits as his predecessors. He can block shots, play defense and score when called upon. In fact, there’s evidence his game is expanding.
Vaughn has given O’Quinn the green light to shoot 3-pointers this season, something he showed he could do during his timie at Norfolk State. According to the Orlando Sentinel, O’Quinn incorporated the long-range to his arsenal over the offseason in order to help his team stretch the floor.
“It could open up a lot of things,“ O’Quinn said.
Well said. Stay tuned.
Holmes out at Florida A&M, but not without a parting shot After an 0-5 start, speculation raged that Florida A&M would part ways with second-year head coach Earl Holmes. That was almost a surety if the Rattlers had lost a date three weeks ago against MEAC doormat, winless Savannah State.Holmes
Well, the former Rattler standout, known as “The Hitman“ during his playing days, led his team to consecutive wins over SSU and Howard before a loss last week at North Carolina A&T’s homecoming dropped them to 2-6 this season, and 6-16 over his past two-plus years.
But it looks like the Rattler administration was just waiting for the next loss before dropping the ax as Athletic Director Kellen Winslow announced Tuesday that Holmes was being replaced by Corey Fuller.
The firing comes just as FAMU prepares for its homecoming this Saturday vs.
Norfolk State in Tallahassee and apparently it didn’t sit well with the Rattler players.
According to a report by the Tallahassee Democrat, the team marched from its field house to Winslow’s office to demand a meeting with the AD, and initially canceled Tuesday’s practice before electing to proceed with the practice under Fuller at a later time than originally scheduled.
Holmes told the Democrat he was “amazed” at the timing of the school’s decision.
“As a Hall of Famer – FAMU Hall of Fame and MEAC Hall of Fame – on homecoming weekend … I don’t know,” he said.
“This isn’t the FAMU I grew up in. I apologize to everybody on behalf of FAMU.”
CAU, Morehouse again in Atlanta; same city but different times…finally
No, it’s not a two-for-one deal , but the two schools are at least halfway there. The Panthers will celebrate homecoming Saturday at their stadium against Paine college.
That’s at 2pm
Then, across the street (and virtually within walking distance), Morehouse will attempt to stay in the race for first place in the SIAC’s eastern division race by taking on Fort Valley State University at the Marooners turf , BT Harvey Stadium .
That’s at 7pm.
Maybe next year, the two schools will sit down together and avoid pulling that scheduling boner the weekend of October 25 playing games at the same time on the same date and then maybe arrange a two –for-one deal allowing hard core fans to see both games with one ticket.
Well, back to the gridiron.
Last weekend’s turnout didn’t help matters at all for the ‘House who lost on the road 33-15 to Benedict which was celebrating its homecoming and currently in third place in the SIAC east with an identical 2-3 mark to Morehouse.
The Tigers from Columbia, South Carolina took an early 9-0 lead at the half and used three Morehouse turnovers in the fourth quarter to win plus clean sweep both AU center schools this season and win their second straight. Benedict quarterback GrahamMarcus Graham finished the game with 146 passing yards and two touchdowns. Morehouse signal caller Monquavious Johnson returned after a two week absence from a badly sprained ankle to throw a touchdown. It was too little, too late. The Marooners were sent home after suffering their third straight loss.
The fate for CAU. homecoming opponents for Albany State, were little better. The Rams, like Benedict, beat the Panthers 34-12 and knocked off Morehouse a fortnight ago in Atlanta. The Rams were led by running back Jarvis Small who rushed 122 yards and scored twice and senior quarterback Frank Rivers, who threw 174 yards and two scores. The Rams led AU 20-0 at the half. CAU managed 12 points in the second half. Freshman Mathew Daniels accounted for both, with rushes of 18 and 52 yards.
Elsewhere in the SIAC, Tuskegee continues to roll, beating Kentucky State 38-9 before a homecoming crowd of 31,352 crammed ( and I DO mean crammed) into Cleve Abbott Stadium, sometimes referred to as “Death Valley”. Both Kentucky State quarterbacks were sacked a collective four times. Tuskegee senior Justin Nared threw for two touchdowns and sophomore Kevin Lacey accounted for 180 passing yards. Tuskegee’s defense held the Thororbreds’ offense to two scores thanks to an effort led by senior El Malik Chinn who collected 10 tackles, five of them unassisted and one sack……Central State University won their third game of the season and their second division victory by surprising Stillman 41-14. Stillman’s quarterback Josh Straughn was sacked six times, three of them credited to sophomore Artell McMillen, who also collected seven tackles, four of them unassisted…….Miles became homecoming spoilers last weekend, blanking Lane 51-0. The Bears were led by sophomore quarterback David Whipple who threw for 132 yards and two scores. Miles led 37-0 at the half…… A 77 yard interception return for a score in the fourth period helped sealed the fate of Paine College which lost 23-10 to homecoming host Fort Valley. Fort Valley led 14-10 at the half but at one point found themselves tied with the Lions in the third period. The fourth period was the deciding factor, however. Aside the interception which resulted in a score for the Wildcats, the Lions wee intercepted a second time with 34 seconds remaining in the ballgame….Legion Field
XTRA POINTS- Down Birmingham Alabama way last weekend, 67,710 fans almost filled Legion Field for the 73rd Magic City Classic between ex-SIAC teams Alabama State and Alabama A&M (they came within 3884 of filling every seat in the place with a derriere!!!). And every one of those ticket buyers got their money’s worth, especially in the final 11:23. ASU led 36-28 but goit themselves shut out by A&M through a field goal which cut the Hornet lead to four. Then , Alabama State charged back down field on an eight play drive that was stopped at the A&M 32. In lieu of a field goal, the Hornets made a decision to punt. The 27 yard boot landed at the A&M 5. The Bulldogs seemed hemmed up. Instead, with 5:14 to go, the Dawgs marched 95 yards,scored and took the lead . With 2:15 left, State then launched a 15 play drive which stalled at the A&M 13. A field goal attempt to re-take the lead sailed wide wide left. The, A&M took charge with 12 seconds remaining. Game over…… FYI, the classic started in 1924 with several breaks in years until 1946. …..A Spelman grad turned minister Alonia JonesAlonia Jones of Atlanta has created an organization called BFLY which she describes as a “movement to inspire people to hold on to hope, based on the premise that life is a series of metamorphoses.” Find out more by visiting www.aloniajones.com or www.borntoinspire.net
If the Garden was Eden, Earl Monroe in the CIAA was heaven
by Lut Williams
Anyone who saw Earl “The Pearl“ Monroe play in the NBA, never really saw him play.THE PEARL: Earl Monroe earned nicknames like “Black Jesus,“ “Black Magic,“ and “The Truth“ during his career at Winston-Salem State.
To do that, you had to see him at Winston-Salem State College (now Winston- Salem State University) in the 1966-67 season.
As much as he was a marvel in the NBA, he was more than that at WSSU.
Just as they say the only person that could hold Michael Jordan to 16 points (per game) was his college coach – North Carolina‘s Dean Smith – for all practical purposes, that is what you could say in the reverse about Earl Monroe.
Only the NBA could hold “The Pearl“ to 24 points per game, his average in 1967 when he won the NBA Rookie of the Year award with the Baltimore Bullets, or 18.8 points per game, his NBA career average.
At Winston-Salem State, he would get held to 34.
That‘s about what he was held to when the Rams lost in the CIAA Tournament semifinals in 1967 to rival North Carolina A&T. A&T put two players on him, George Mack and Carl Hubbard. One played in front of him and one behind him. They didn‘t play zone, they just had two people play Monroe. Besides a loss to High Point to open the season, the 105-82 decision to A&T was the only game Monroe and the 31-2 Rams lost that year.
Under legendary head coach Clarence “Big House“ Gaines and with Monroe as the unquestioned leader, WSSC became the first black college team to win an NCAA championship when they won the Small College Division title, 77-74 over Southwest Missouri State.
Monroe averaged an unbelievable 41.5 points per game that year, numbers hardly ever heard of before or since in college basketball. It was unbelievable until you saw him.
That was the case for the national media who continually downplayed Monroe‘s talent and that of the Rams, continually ranking them below others in the nation until they witnessed them firsthand. Once you saw him however, you were a believer. He‘d drop 40, almost effortlessy, and you‘d believe.
He was relentlessly smooth as silk.
During the national tournament, Monroe put up 49 on #6 Akron in a secondround win. He scored pedestrian totals of 34 in a first-round win (over Baldwin-Wallace), 29 in the quarterfinals (vs. Long Island) and 23 in the semis (over #2 Kentucky Wesleyan).
In the championship game, before a national TV audience, Monroe fhrew in 40, with all the flash and panache in his repertoire. Behind-the-back and between-the-legs dribbles, no-look passes, long-range as well as contested jumpers over taller defenders, he showed it all - and they all believed.
He had so many moves – hesitations, head fakes, shot fakes, spins and reverse spins, hang-in-the-air double-clutches, pull-back jumpers – that you were in awe whenever he had the ball. And the points kept coming.
But Monroe wasn‘t just a scorer. He was a player, as adept at passing the ball and setting up his teammates as he was at dazzling you with his scoring. And he wasn‘t some one-man team as some have asserted. Gaines had other players like Eugene Smiley, the other guard if you can call Monroe a guard, burly 6-7 forward William “Bill“ English and 6-8 center James Reid on the team. But make no mistake, Monroe was the orchestrator.
Admiring 41.5 points per game from a distance is highly questionable. Seeing it in person makes it very real.
Being from Danville, Va., I was relegated to watching Monroe only during the CIAA Tournament or the one time my father ventured down Route 29 to Greensboro, N.C. to catch Earl and the Rams play in the regular season against North Carolina A&T.
Other than that, it was only through word-of-mouth or through reading the box scores of the Rams games, when I could find them, that he and the Rams could be followed.
But I saw enough of him in the Tournament to know the phenom that he was. Those lucky enough to be at Winston-Salem State or on the CIAA circuit were the truly fortunate ones.
When you did see him is when all the nicknames started to make sense.
“The Pearl“ was certainly apropos, perhaps the best nickname in all of sport. But “Black Jesus,“ “Black Magic“ and “The Truth“ are nicknames you come to when you‘ve run out of ways to describe somebody.
And as thrilling as the CI-double A was, and it was indeed thrilling, Monroe brought it to another level. What you were witnessing was a once-in-a-lifetime occurence. There‘s been nobody like him since.
My brother Jerry (eight years older) has always said that another Winston- Salem State great, Cleo Hill, was the greatest player he‘d ever seen (other than Oscar Robertson). And when you look as his numbers – 23.5 ppg., 24.5 ppg., 27.7 ppg. and 26.7 over his four-year career – its easy to see why. Hill, those who saw him say, could shoot hook shots with either hand, had Michael Jordan ups, and was virtually unstoppable.
Monroe was 6-3 or so and probably never dunked in his life. What he did didn‘t require much jumping ability, only a flair for the dramatic and the acrobatics of a virutoso.
The NBA saw it and believed, as did the Baltimore Bullets who made him the second pick in the first round of the NBA Draft behind Div. I Player of the Year, Jimmy Walker of Providence. But Monroe was second to none. He weaved and twirled his way to an outstanding 12-year NBA career including an eight-year stint with the New York Knicks.
I understand he‘s one of the players featured in an upcoming ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, When The Garden Was Eden. If the New York Knicks‘ NBA championship teams made Madison Square Garden Eden, Monroe made the CIAA heaven.