The Howard men’s basketball team is nearing the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament, making every game important for the rest of the season.
The Bison are first in the MEAC at 17-11 with a 9-2 conference record. This standing marks Howard’s first consecutive winning seasons since 1986-87 and 1987-88. Coach Kenneth Blakeney talked about how much it meant to oversee the team having this success under his coaching.
“It’s been the vision of the program,” Blakeney said. “It’s why I wanted to be at Howard. I’m from Washington D.C., and I understood the history and tradition of Howard basketball. So it means a lot that in three full seasons, we’ve been able to change the trajectory of Howard basketball and that means a lot.”
Howard had an 80-70 victory against Coppin State University on Feb. 18, marking their ninth victory in a row. Sophomore guard Elijah Hawkins led the way with 20 points and nine assists. Junior forward Jordan Wood had a season-high 19-point performance. Wood has improved in every statistical category from last season in his development into the starting lineup. Redshirt junior forward Steve Settle III and sophomore guard Marcus Dockery combined for 26 points and nine defensive rebounds. Freshman forward Shy Odom had seven points, three blocks, and a team-high seven rebounds. The starting lineup combined for 15 3-pointers against Coppin State.
The Bison, unfortunately, didn’t replicate that success in their 89-76 loss against Morgan State Bears, who handed Howard just their second MEAC loss of the season on Feb. 20. They were reeling without forward Settle, who was out of the lineup with a head injury. Without Settle, the Bison allowed 89 points on defense, the most since Nov. 21 against Belmont University. They also shot 25 percent from 3-point range.
“I thought we played at Morgan like if we show up, it’s just gonna happen,” Blakeney said. “Morgan’s a very good team that competed and played harder than us.”
Despite the loss, forward Odom set season-highs in scoring and rebounding with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Odom has shined in his first season with the Bison, averaging 10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. His excellent rookie year is illustrated by his eight MEAC Rookie of the Week titles.
“When Shy came to Howard, this was our conversation,” Blakeney said. “What’s great about him is he’s continued to get better as the season progressed. For a freshman to step up in a conference road game in a hostile environment, and lead the way, it just shows the work he’s put in. And I’m proud of him because he’s done things off the court that go unnoticed.”
The Bison have a few more games left, and they will end their season with a home matchup against Norfolk State on March 2.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew