Friday, November 21, 2014

For XU athletics, it's the busiest day of the fall

NEW ORLEANS -- Here we go again. For the third time in four years, the Saturday before Thanksgiving is the busiest on the Xavier University of Louisiana athletics fall calendar.

Three teams -- women's volleyball, women's cross country and men's cross country -- will be on the road at NAIA National Championship events. And at XU's Convocation Center, the homecoming basketball doubleheader will start at noon.

The day's schedule:

* Men's Basketball: The Gold Rush, 7-1 and ranked 13th in NAIA Division I, will lead off the doubleheader against LeMoyne-Owen (0-2) of NCAA Division II. Xavier, winner of four straight, seeks revenge for a 63-62 road loss last season.

* Women's Basketball: The Gold Nuggets, 2-4 and ranked 18th, will play first-time Florida opponent Warner University (3-2) at 2 p.m. It's just the second home game this season for Xavier, which has a 20-game home winning streak. The Nuggets already have played four top-25 opponents, including a 71-66 victory against No. 22 Mobile in XU's home opener.

* Women's Cross Country: The Gold Nuggets qualified for nationals as a team for the fifth time in seven years. They'll compete in the 5,000-meter race at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan., at 10:30 a.m. Xavier will be bolstered by the return of record-setting Catherine Fakler, who has not competed since Sept. 29 because of injury but was cleared last week for practice and competition.

* Men's Cross Country: The Gold Rush also qualified for nationals for the fifth time in seven years. The XU men -- led by Kwame Jackson, the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference's first three-time individual champion -- will run 8,000 meters starting at 11:45 a.m. at Rim Rock Farm.

* Women's Volleyball: The Gold Nuggets (20-5) are on the road in the first round of nationals for the fourth consecutive year. This time they'll play 12th-ranked Lindsey Wilson (32-3) at 6:30 p.m. in Columbia, Ky. A victory would advance Xavier next month to Sioux City, Iowa, for the later rounds with 23 other schools.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

TSU's Ford Signs Armani Chaney to National Letter of Intent

NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Head men’s Basketball coach Dana Ford announced the signing of Armani Chaney to a National Letter of Intent. Chaney is a 5’10 point guard will attend Tennessee State after his final season at St. Rita High School in Chicago, Ill. 

“We are really excited to bring in Armani and add him to our puzzle,” Ford said. “We are trying to bring in players that fit our coaching style and personality. We feel like he can come in right away and give us something we are lacking.” 

Chaney is a 2-Star prospect according to, who is a three year letter winner at St. Rita. As a junior, Chaney averaged 10 points and six assists per game. He is considered a true point guard who brings a strong handle and keen court instincts. Chaney has the ability to be a solid penetrator who is unselfish and can get to the rim. 

“He comes from a good school in St. Rita,” Ford added. “He is a quick scoring guard who has a tremendous ability to handle the basketball.” 

Chaney helped St. Rita to a Class 4A Oak Lawn Regional championship in 2014, giving the Mustangs their first regional title since 2003. It also marked the first championship for St. Rita after moving from Class 3A. 

Chaney is teamed at St. Rita with University of Kentucky signee, Charles Matthews. The duo, along with their teammates, is picked to be contenders in the race for the Regional Championship in 2015. 

Hampton U. hopes to build on Bethune-Cookman win in finale at Howard

HAMPTON, Viriginia -- The lesson didn't take hold as quickly as Hampton U. coach Connell Maynor intended, but it finally produced a signature win. The next step in the Pirates' makeover is duplicating the process to conclude the season.

HU took down two-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champ Bethune-Cookman 40-35 last Thursday, an oasis in a frustrating season filled with competitive losses and missed opportunities.

"You showed that you could play with one of the best teams in the nation," Maynor said he told his players, "and not only play with them, you could beat them. You did it for 60 minutes, you outplayed them from the opening kickoff to the last second. We need to play like that every week — one play at a time, one drive at a time, one quarter at time, one half, one game, every single game. There's no reason you can't play like that every week."

The Pirates (3-8, 2-5 MEAC) aim for a season-ending win at Howard (4-7, 2-5 MEAC) Saturday at 1 p.m. in Washington, D.C. A 4-8 record is far from acceptable to Maynor and the program, but it would provide some momentum heading into the offseason and demonstrate that players listened.


Transfer U: Former FBS players find a home at Bethune-Cookman

ORLANDO, Florida -- Joshua Richardson of Moss Point, Mississippi, said he learned about Bethune-Cookman from watching them play on ESPN.

Of B-CU's 25 Division I FBS transfers, Richardson is one of a very few who are not from a Florida high school.

“I saw Coach (Brian) Jenkins (on TV). He was real enthusiastic on the sidelines,” the cornerback said.

Richardson will join Jenkins and the rest of the Wildcats in the Citrus Bowl at 2 p.m. Saturday when they meet Florida A&M in the Florida Classic.

The game will be televised by ESPNClassic, providing B-CU a chance to be seen by more potential recruits and transfers.


AAMU QB Throws for 430 Yards on Torn ACL

Normal, Alabama  --  Lost in all that was college football last Saturday afternoon is quite possibly the guttiest performance of the season by anyone, anywhere. Alabama A&M suffered it’s 3rd loss by three points or less, but QB Jaymason Lee walked off the field a winner. The 215 pound senior from Hawaii played on a torn ACL and he didn’t just play. Lee played one of his best games, throwing for 430 yards and two touchdowns.

Doctors and coaches all advised Lee not to play. They reminded him that he would have no mobility and another bad hit could be detrimental to the recovery process. Lee was not having any of it, and there was no chance he was sitting out his final collegiate home game. Afterwards, head coach James Spady spoke on his quarterback’s behalf.

“He didn’t just play hurt, he shouldn’t have played. He’s one-legged right now, playing on a torn ACL,” Spady said. “He is a guy that has put his own personal health aside so he can play for his teammates.”


Alcorn State closes regular season against Jackson State

LORMAN, Mississippi -- Alcorn State hasn't recorded consecutive victories over Jackson State in a decade.

The No. 23 Braves (9-2, 7-1 SWAC) entertain their biggest rival on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Spinks-Casem Stadium in Lorman. Two years ago, the contest was played at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium for the first time since the early 1990s.

Alcorn has already clinched the Eastern Division championship and nailed its first-ever berth in the SWAC championship on Dec. 6 at Houston's Reliant Stadium against either Grambling or Southern University.

"We're headed to Houston, I couldn't be happier," Braves coach Jay Hopson said. "These players, these coaches, they did a tremendous job."


FAMU counts on Damien Fleming to steer Rattlers to upset of B-CU in Florida Classic

FAMU quarterback Damien Fleming 
ORLANDO, Florida -- Doubt finally seemed to rattle Florida A&M quarterback Damien Fleming in August.

Rattlers coach Earl Holmes announced there would be an open competition for the starting quarterback job, forcing the veteran dual-threat athlete to fight for the spot after returning from a foot injury that required two offseason surgeries.

"That bothered him a little bit and he was even contemplating whether he wanted to finish out the year," said Anthony Flynn, Fleming's former coach at Jacksonville Ribault High. "He fought through it just like he's always fought through adversity. Although things may not be going his way, he's still persevering."

The Rattlers are counting on Fleming, a four-year starter, to deliver one final dazzling performance when FAMU takes on rival Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Classic. Kickoff for the game is set for 2 p.m. at Orlando's newly renovated Citrus Bowl and the contest will air on ESPN Classic.