Last season, the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks and the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats were in different positions in the MEAC standings. The Hawks finished in 3rd place after the regular season, while the Wildcats were a middle-of-the-pack team.
This season, the Wildcats come into Saturday afternoon’s showdown with the Hawks at 3-2 in MEAC play, sitting in a tie for 5th spot. As for the Hawks, they come in with a 1-4 record, and already have more losses this season (16) than they did all of last year (15).
Saturday afternoon’s game was moved up to 2pm EST to account for the impending winter storm that is threatening the East Coast. Inside Hytche Arena, both the Wildcats and the Hawks will look for a crucial conference win to help push them up in the standings.
The hometown Hawks are still looking to regain the form they had last season, and will look to get some of their star players back on the right track. As for the Wildcats, a win would put them even closer to the top of the conference, and get them another step closer to the .500 mark on the year.
Scroll on down to prepare yourself for a crucial game in the MEAC that could go a long way in helping both teams make a run at the conference title.
Time: 2:00pm EST
Location: Hytche Arena, Princess Anne, MD
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (6-13, 3-2)
Despite a 6-13 overall record on the year, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats will pose quite the test for the Hawks on Saturday afternoon. They opened the season with two straight wins, including an impressive victory over the UT-Martin Skyhawks. They then followed that up with two straight wins shortly thereafter, knocking off South Carolina State Bulldogs to open conference action.
While they have put together some strong wins, they have also had their fair share of losing streaks, much like their Saturday opponent. A four-game losing streak and an eight-game losing streak sent the Wildcats into a tail spin, of sorts, as they were in danger of letting the season slip away.
Fast-forward to Saturday, and the Wildcats have won two of their last three games in MEAC play, and are in the thick of things in the race for the conference title. Wins over the Norfolk State Spartans and the Morgan State Bears have the team’s confidence soaring, and close losses against Hampton and North Carolina A&T have the team believing that they can knock off any team on any given night.
The forward duo of Mario Moody and LaRon Smith have the Wildcats feeling optimistic about the last month of the season, and despite being under-sized in comparison to the big man in the middle of the Hawks, they have the talent to lead Bethune-Cookman to the win.
Moody, a 6’7” forward in his first and only season with the Wildcats after transferring from Wagner, is enjoying a career year in the MEAC. He’s averaging 12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per contest, and has been a consistent force for his new team.
Add in Smith’s production of 6.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game, and the Wildcats have a talented pair of forwards who can impact the game on both ends of the floor.
Bethune-Cookman use balance on offense, as they have seven players who average at least 6 points per contest. With plenty of options who can put up some points, the Wildcats can mix and match their lineup, causing headaches for their opponents.
If they can get several players involved early on, the Wildcats could score a big road win in conference play, and make another move up in the standings.
Projected Starting Lineup
Guard: Ricky Johnson (SR, 9.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.4 apg)
Guard: Jordan Potts (JR, 16.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.3 apg)
Forward: Randy Holmes (JR, 6.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.9 apg)
Forward: Mario Moody (SR, 12.2 ppg 7.4 rpg, 1.1 spg)
Forward: LaRon Smith (JR, 6.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.1 bpg)
Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (4-16, 1-4)
The success of the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks in 2014-15 has been well-documented, by us here at College Court Report and other media in and around the Princess Anne, MD area. Head coach Bobby Collins led the team to 18 wins in his first year with the program, and fans were excited about the future.
So far, year two hasn’t gone as planned for the Hawks. Three separate losing streaks of four games or more have put the Hawks well below the .500 mark, and things haven’t gone much better since the calendar switched to conference play.
Despite sitting at 1-4 against MEAC opponents, key players for the Hawks have started to turn things around, which could lead to good things down the stretch. Seniors Devin Martin and Dominique Elliott are playing some strong basketball, and they could lead the Hawks to a much-needed victory.
Martin has scored in double-figures in 10 of his past 11 games, including breaking the 30-point mark twice during that span. On the season, he is averaging a team-best 17.5 points per contest. As the team’s go-to scorer, Martin will need to lead the team on Saturday afternoon if they want to hang with the Wildcats. He has been the team’s most consistent scorer this season, and another double-figure performance would go a long way towards a win.
In the middle, the 6’8”, 260-pound Elliott gives the Hawks a bit of a size advantage over the forwards of the Wildcats. After a slow start to the season, Elliott has scored in double-figures in 9 straight games, and has two double-doubles in his last five contests.
Elliott has the size to be an impact player on the glass on both ends of the floor, as he is hard to move around in the paint. He can stretch the floor and occasionally hit a three-pointer, making things a lot harder for the defense. If he can stretch the floor and make some shots from long distance, things could go well for the Hawks in front of their home crowd inside Hytche Arena.
The key to the win could be the play of reigning MEAC Freshman of the Year, Ryan Andino. Andino has struggled through a sophomore slump this season, averaging just 5.8 points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.6 assists per game after a promising freshman campaign in ’14-15. Coach Collins needs to find a way to get Andino involved and contributing on both ends of the floor. If he can do that, the Hawks could make a late-season run.
Projected Starting Lineup
Guard: Thomas Rivera (JR, 4.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.1 apg)
Guard: Devin Martin (SR, 17.5 pp, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg)
Guard: Dontae Caldwell (FR, 4.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.6 apg)
Forward: Bakari Copeland (JR, 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.5 apg)
Forward: Dominique Elliott (SR, 13.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 apg)
Maryland-Eastern Shore 81, Bethune-Cookman 76