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Opinion: Don’t Jump Ship! The Bison Can Still Be Repeat Conference Champions.

Sports reporter Jeffrey Jones urges new-coming Bison basketball fans to maintain support as the MEAC Tournament approaches.

Players gather to discuss team strategies. (Photo Courtesy of Tiarra Imani)

With 11 games left until the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament on Mar. 13-16, the Bison stand at 8-13 this season.

New Bison fans might worry about the team leaving in the first round. Upperclassmen and alumni must excuse them; they know nothing of what it took for this team to succeed last season.

Before progressing to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Tournament for the first time in 31 years, the 2022-23 Bison were 10-10. Nobody would dare call them favorites to win the title until they won nine of their last 11 games.

Their late-season push landed them the first seed in the tournament and amnesty for their poor start to the season. Everything seemed to click at the right time. 

The current team has a new roster in the same predicament. The Bison are talented, but they haven’t completely capitalized on all their talent for wins. If they want to host the tournament in Burr Gymnasium as the one seed again, they’ll need to be perfect.

They wrote the recipe for success last year; let’s look at what they’re preparing on the road to March Madness.

What will it take to become back-to-back MEAC champions?

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Don’t Stop Shooting

Seth Town attempts a three-pointer against North Carolina Central University. (Photo courtesy of Steven Worthy)

The Bison’s game plan this season has been no secret. Their biggest strength is their motivation. Howard holds first place in points per game (ppg) thanks to their MEAC-leading three-pointers. 

A key part of last year’s run was team success. The Bison are carrying the same “live and die by the three-point” mantra, which made them an offensive powerhouse, into this season. 

Wondering how they can continue this success from downtown? Look no further than Seth Towns and Marcus Dockery, two players who shoot and make more threes than anyone else in the conference, according to MEAC

Point-Forward Seth Towns attributes the team’s hot streak this season to playmaking and court vision. 

“We have talented shooters mixed with our team finding guys for open looks. Moving the ball around is a big part of our offense,” Towns said.

Play Team Defense

The Bison defense matches up against Hampton University. (Photo courtesy of David Sierra)

Most of the Bison’s struggles to this point of the season can be traced back to their defensive play. They rank in the bottom three in the league in steals, blocks and points allowed. They struggle to consistently play both sides of the ball.

Becoming a better defensive team involves playing as a unit. Helping defense, switching off screens and making hustle plays will be imperative. On defense, the Bison are led by junior guard Bryce Harris, a defensive anchor from last season. 

Harris has won three MEAC Defensive Player of the Week awards this season and looks to rub it off on his teammates. He believes in their ability to pull it all together on defense. 

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“We are a good defensive team, we just need to make sure that we talk and that we are connected at all times. We all have to make sure everybody is on the same page,” he said.

Push The Tempo

Howard University basketball head coach Kenneth Blakeney. (Photo By Piercing Images Photo)

From this point forward, the Bison can’t afford any off days. The trial-and-error period of the early season is gone, and those hunting for championships have to play their best. 

Take, for example, the game against Norfolk State on Jan. 20, where the Bison started strong, shooting 10-20 in the first half. In the second half, their effort dulled, cutting their shooting percentage in half by 14 percent. Four quarters of consistent basketball every night can be the key to making a postseason push.

Don’t be so quick to flee from the Herd, new Bison. Instead, run alongside the elder Bison and support the team when they compete with the giants of March Madness.

Copy edited by Jalyn Lovelady

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