The Howard Men’s basketball team played its first exhibition game, hosting Bowie State University. The match proved to be a great introduction to the team.
The team was able to come out victorious with a final score of 114-75. Although the team uses exhibition games as a tune-up for the regular season, the camaraderie built during the offseason was on full display. Howard’s Nyala Wright, a senior sports medicine major, reflected on the team’s growth since her freshman year.
“It is definitely a different aspect, like how they’re playing together, how they’re working as a team… I think freshman year they were more so just trying to work by themselves and trying to just, you know, be the star player, but now it’s all about the team and working together,” said Wright.
Jordan Woods led the way in scoring with 24 points, while Steve Settle chipped in another 20. The team was also able to get major contributions from their bench unit with freshman Shy Odom contributing 15 points, and Ose Okojie pouring in 14.
Ose Okojie, a freshman from Canada, was especially impressive to watch for the first time. With this being his first game in an official Howard uniform, Okoejie was able to finally see his dream of playing Division 1 basketball come to fruition.
“The energy was very high. For me– when I was just thinking about playing my first Division 1 game, I was very anxious but in a good way and just very eager to go out there and play my game. Especially with the amount of work the whole team put in, we had tons of energy with this being our first game in front of the Howard community,” said Okojie.
The bench unit was able to bring a spark to the team and help them open the lead-up. The length and athleticism of the team stood out, with the shortest player out of the first substitutions being 6’4. Coach Kenneth Blakeney has had a vision of putting guys on the floor that are 6 feet and above but can still fit into many positions on the court and be successful.
“My vision for our program was to have players that are anywhere between six four and seven feet that are all interchangeable, that can play all five different spots that we play from an offense, that could switch one through five and not be in any danger of feeling like there’s a mismatch that we have on the defensive end,” Blakeney said.
With this only being an exhibition game the team still has some things to improve on before the season kicks off officially. “I thought we didn’t do a great job in our full-court transition defense, and then with scoring 114 points, you should have more than 20 assists, which meant there was one-on-one going on and no one helping each other to get more efficient and easier shots,” Blakeney said.
With the work they have put in during the offseason, the team knows that if they focus on fixing the little things the team will be just fine.
“There were obviously times that we had mental lapses, but with how our coaching staff prepared us as well as having a lot of experienced guys on the team I think we were able to all come together as a unit and stay true to ourselves through the whole game,” Okojie said.
The team is set to play another exhibition game against Multnomah on Nov. 1 before taking on Kentucky in its first official game on Nov. 7.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman