The 2020-2021 season for the Howard University Men’s Basketball Team was unlike any other.
This summer, Makur Maker became the first five-star basketball recruit to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) since the ESPN recruiting database started in 2007.
This unprecedented signing placed the spotlight of HBCU basketball directly on the Mecca.
The Bison had a tough start to the season, with four straight losses out of the gate.
One of the most glaring weaknesses was their lack of activity on the boards, as they were outrebounded in all but one of their losses. To make matters worse, Maker went down with an injury in the second game, and the five-star forward did not return to the court for the remainder of the season.
Another deficiency the team faced was from behind the arc, as they shot only 30% from the three-point range for the season. Stifled by turnovers, the Bison also averaged 5.6 turnovers more than their opponents.
The team has room for improvement in several areas.
Despite the low moments of the season, there were many positive takeaways from both the team and individual play.
Redshirt freshman forward Steve Settle III stepped up to the plate in Maker’s absence to lead the team in both points and rebounds. The team also made a mark at the rim defensively, with shot-blocking being their biggest strength.
Both Settle and forward Sam Green led the team with 1.2 blocks per game, and the team finished the season with 10 more blocks than their opponents.
This season’s crowning achievement was the 81-76 win over longtime rival Hampton University in the 47th chapter of the Battle of the Real HU.
In this win, the team showed how they learned from the mistakes made during their early losing skid. They battled on the boards in that game, and their offense started to click, resulting in four Bison finishing the game in double figures.
The team clinched the victory with a dramatic second-half comeback that went down to the wire. They finished the game with a season-high in points, free throws, and rebounds, as Head Coach Kenneth Blakeney described the victory as a “total team win.”
Sadly, the team was never able to build on the momentum of their first win, as issues with COVID-19 caused the season’s cancellation after only five games.
The team finished with a 1-4 record but just looking at the record does not tell the full story of the team’s potential.
There were underrated players and hidden talents for the Bison that did not get enough recognition throughout the season.
Senior guard Kyle Foster quietly led the team in total three-pointers and finished second on the team in scoring with 13.3 ppg. For a team that struggled to shoot the three-pointer, Foster’s marksmanship was crucial to the team’s success.
This was a rollercoaster of a season, filled with unpredictable and unparalleled challenges for the Bison.
Although the season was only five games, the team gave their best effort to compete for every game despite the current difficulties of the season.
Facing the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the comradery should help the team to stay unified in the future.
The canceled season now leaves our Bison hungry and wanting to prove themselves.
As we eagerly await the 2021-22 season, one thing is certain; the Bison are coming back.