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Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC

Hal LamarBy Hal Lamar
Photos b
y Patsy Collier-Lamar

Why the SIAC is returning its hoop tourney to Birmingham

ATLANTA- I suppose many of you are  wondering why the SIAC has decided to return their annual basketball tournament to Birmingham Alabama. I thought about this too, especially since I was one of the members of the 4th estate who argued for moving the tourney  anywhere but there. I covered the tournament there for three years, saw few local media paying any attention (the black press excepted). Crowds were low or non-existent, Fair Park Arena, the venue for the tournament was little better  than a dump and it seemed folks outside the former steel town didn’t want to travel there.siac bkb trn logo

Well, apparently some of that has changed. The city‘s Bill Harris Arena, part of  Birmingham’s Crossplex athletic facility which is light-years moré impressive  than Fair Park, is the venue for the tournament. Reading some on-line  information about Crossplex, there appear to be plans for expansion to hotels, restaurants and shops to be built on the grounds of the facility.

The  SIAC’s council of presidents, which had to sign off on the 3 year deal to move, might also have been looking at the hole left in Birmingham’s athletic activity  calendar for this year and 2014 after the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) decided to move its hoop tourney and football championship game to Houston Texas. It is also no secret that the SIAC hasn’t been pleased  with the response the city of Atlanta has given to the basketball tournament the last few years it been here and they also aren’t smiling over the support given the conference from the ATL to the  SIAC football championship game either (so don’t be surprised if the next announcement  you hear is that the 2014 grid mix will be taking its shoulder pad, helmets, cleats and footballs to the Magic City as well). Birmingham has been working  overtime to bring more sporting activities to the city over the years, even to the point of luring the SWAC away from its former New Orleans domicile some  years ago with lavish promises of free office space for the SWAC offices and use of Legion Field for their championship contest free of charge.  You can also bet your last dollar that the SIAC is profiting from this move in more ways than one……..Birmingham officialdom is reportedly most generous about these things…..

THE SIAC: Last week was a  disappointing one for CAU and Morehouse, who dropped their homecoming games. The  most disappointed, perhaps, was Morehouse who suffered a 29-26 loss to the 4-4  Benedict Tigers on an eleventh hour 32 yard field goal with 31 seconds to go before 19,345 heavily partisan fans at BT Harvey Stadium. Morehouse took a slim 10-9  lead into the locker room at the half. By quarter four, the score was tied at  19-19 but a fumble forced by Morehouse gave the Marooners the oval at the  Benedict 25. Five plays later, senior Thomas “TJ” Williams scored on a nine  yard run to give Morehouse a bc  eduardo  hernandezHernandez26-19 lead. Benedict then returned the oval the  other way through five plays of its own to tie the game at 26 apiece. Then with  Morehouse unable to move the oval past the 50 on their possession, Benedict took over on downs and used 16 plays to get to the Morehouse 4. Unable to punch through six points on three tries from the Morehouse four, Benedict sophomore  Edurado Fernandez punched in the winning three points. Morehouse had the last  word on possession but couldn’t get it past their own 18 yard line before time ran out. Benedict takes on SIAC east leader Albany State this weekend in Albany  Georgia and must defeat the Rams to get a shot at first place and a possible  trip to the conference championship in Atlanta.

Clark-AU  meanwhile was taking on the Golden Rams about two blocks away and at the same time of the Morehouse tilt but having a much tougher mix with the conference leader. In  fact, the Panthers failed to convert one first down in the first half and gave  up three scores to their visitors, allowing them to take a 17-0 lead in the  locker room. The Rams extended their lead in the second half and up until the  2:48 mark of the fourth quarter, led 30-0. The Panthers came perilously close  to suffering their second shutout in two games until an Albany State turnover  on a muffled punt gave the Panthers four fresh downs at the Albany 20, They  used that to their advantage with five plays to score their only touchdown of  the game on a five yard run by true freshman Montavious Taylor  who led Panther rushing with 11 carries and 45 yards. Albany State was led by junior quarterback Frank Rivers, a transfer this year from Grambling. He  passed for 112 yards and one score which pales his performance a fortnight ago  against Morehouse when he threw for 192 yards and five scores. “ I give myself  a C- ( on the CAU win), “ he told INSIDE after the game. “ We left too many  points on the field.” As for his decision to leave troubled Grambling and  transfer to ASU, he said it was one of his better decisions. “I feel at home  here,” he said. “ The coaches really sold me on ASU. They made me feel at home  when I talked to them and visited the school.” Albany moved into first place in  the SIAC east through the Clark-AU win, moving Fort Valley out of the top  spot.

ELSEWHERE IN THE SIAC: Fort Valley had an easy time at their homecoming game beating 1-7 Concordia –Selma 52-19   and avoiding a fourth straight loss……In a rare Thursday night game,  Miles got a three touchdown game from senior David Thomas and defeated Lane  38-26…..A missed two point conversion cost Central State its third straight win  as they fell 35-33 to Stillman……SIAC leader Tuskegee had an easy time with  Kentucky State, beating the Thorobreds 36-7…: …….

XTRA POINTS: Last weekend’s Magic  City Classic between Alabama A&M and Alabama State put 63,000 butts in  seats at 70,000 Legion Field. That attenalbn frank riversRiversdance figure is the rule rather than  the exception but I did notice the local press harping about the 72 year old  game never being able to fully fill Legion, located smack dab in the middle of  the “hood.” But the organizers apparently aren’t phased by that. They and the  city of Birmingham are crying about the 7000 seats not sold all the way to the  bank!!! The game could have been more competitive, however. The 6-2 Hornets defeated  the 2-6 Bulldogs 31-7. Reggie Barlow’s stingers are second in the SWAC east  behind division leader Jackson State while Anthony Jones’ Dawgs are fourth . It’s  not surprising though. Jones is rebuilding. When 45 of your 82 player roster is  freshman and sophomore, what can you expect?....INSIDE got to speak with former  Grambling quarterback Frank Rivers who is now barking signals for Albany State.  He says the decision to trnasfer was a good one for him.” The players and the  coaches made me feel at home. The move was comfortable.” INSIDERS say Rivers, a  junior, stood snowball in hell’s chance of winning the starting job at  Grambling away from Doug “DJ” Williams and decided to bolt from Louisiana to  Albany, not far from his native Birmingham, Alabama…. Speaking of Grambling, INSIDERS  are also telling us that it was the influence of one time Grambling and  successful Fort Valley State Head Coach Doug Porter  that helped move the players to end their  boycott and return to practice.  Doug  moved back to Lousiana after retiring and can be seen on the Grambling  sidelines at most of the games…


Tuskegee over Central State (Tuskegee  homecoming)
Lane over Kentucky State
Miles over Stillman
CAU over Shorter
Fort Valley over Morehouse
Albany State over Benedict

Last week won –loss:5-1


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