Eagles on the move
NCCU b-ball finds niche
Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 15:02
In its fourth year as a Division 1 competitor, the N.C. Central University Men's basketball team has faced mammoth opponents in Indiana University, University Miami and University of Michigan.
Three-quarters of the way into its schedule the team is faring much better than it has since making the jump to Division I.
The men have a 10-10 record with 10 more games to go, which is already 3 wins more than last year's team, which finished with a 7-22 record.
In fact if the Eagles complete the season over .500 it will be the first time since the 2004-2005 basketball season, which saw the Eagles under previous head coach Henry Dickerson finish 16-12.
With the influx of MEAC schools, the schedule is more manageable this year. Last year's team had to venture 16,846 miles in 16 away games.
The team has made great improvements recently, defeating long- time rival N.C. A&T in an overtime thriller which saw senior guard C.J. Wilkerson score 41 points, the most of any men's basketball player in 26 years.
The Eagles have done well against future MEAC foes logging five wins and three losses in eight games.
This year the team has blended the multifaceted skills of three prime-time players.
The expert 3-point shooting ability of junior guard Landon Clement, who is averaging 17.9 ppg and is on pace to demolish the school's season 3-point record held by his current coach, Levelle Moton.
The leadership, scoring prowess, and aggressiveness of C.J. Wilkerson has paid major dividends for the Eagles as the leading scorer this season, averaging 19.6 ppg.
Junior forward Nick Chasten also brings an element that most teams lack — an inside game.
In 20 games this season he is averaging 10.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg, giving the Eagles a perimeter and interior presence.
The Eagles will head to the MEAC tournament on March 12 to take on Savannah State in a game of future full-fledged MEAC members.
The improved team has the NCCU community buzzing about the possibility of next year's team, winning a MEAC championship.