Sunday, March 31, 2013

Alabama A&M's Brandons, Wells and Eldemire, shine in spring football game

(Photo Courtesy: AAMU Athletics)

NORMAL, Alabama  --  Saturday was a good day for dudes named Brandon at Alabama A&M.

Calera native Brandon Wells shined at quarterback and Brandon Eldemire showcased the talent he'd exhibited throughout spring training in front of the 200 or 300 fans who showed up for the Bulldogs' annual Maroon and White Spring football game at Louis Crews Stadium.

In a scrimmage dominated by the defense, Wells, a redshirt freshman, came on strong in the second half, completing 5 of 6 attempts for 113 yards and a touchdown. He made an impression on A&M coach Anthony Jones, heading into what will be a three-man battle, which will also include JUCO transfer junior Kyle Harmyk and redshirt freshman Chris Leachman, for the starting gig in the fall.

"I thought Brandon separated himself today from the other two guys," Jones said. "Except for his first series, when he took a quick sack, it really wasn't his fault but he didn't hold onto the ball. At the end of the day, you want you quarterbacks holding onto the ball regardless of how hard the hit was. It was a good hit but he should've held on to it. Other than that, I thought he had the most command out there. I though he knew, more so, what was going on. He made more of the decisive reads and throws than any other quarterback out there."

Wells, a 6-foot-3, 170-pounder, started the contest with the first-team offense and but looked much more collected after losing the ball while taking a shot from defensive end Corey Johnson which led to a scoop and score by defensive back Jeremy Isabelle.

"I was kind of just rushing myself at the beginning then I just settled down and let the game come to me more."

Eldemire got the majority of the carries in the game along with Wenonah product Ja'Won Arrington. JUCO transfer Jabari Baker and Brendan Johnson, the Bulldogs' third-leading rusher last season, both sat out with injuries.

Alabama A&M running back Brandon Eldemire carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards and two touchdowns during Saturday's spring game. (Courtesy of Alabama A&M University)
Eldemire, who rushed only 16 yards on four carries in as many games last season, seized the day. He carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards, including three rushes of 10 or more yards, and two touchdowns in the first half.

"I just thank God for every opportunity I get out there to run the ball," Eldemire said. "We've got a plethora of running backs all with good skill sets, some fast, some just big, some can do both. I always just go out there and try to take advantage of my opportunities just to show my coaches that I want to be out there and I want to contribute to the team."


Baltimore Ravens displaying interest in Howard University linebacker Keith Pough

(Photo Courtesy Howard University Television)
BALTIMORE, Maryland  --  The Ravens' search for linebackers in the NFL draft involves a wide investigation of prospects.

That includes interest in Howard University linebacker Keith Pough, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.

Among the other teams interested in the MEAC Conference Defensive Player of the Year: the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The South Carolina native had 72 tackles, 10 for losses with 3 1/2 sacks and four pass deflections as a senior.

As a junior, Pough was a third-team Associated Press All-American when he had 120 tackles, 21 for losses, three sacks and 11 pass deflections.

The four-year starter finished his career with 340 tackles, 71 for losses.

Pough is a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder who ran the 40-yard dash in just 4.8 seconds at the NFL scouting combine after being clocked as fast as 4.75 seconds previously.


Stillman completes sweep of Benedict

TUSCALOOSA | The Stillman College baseball team completed its three-game sweep of Benedict College with a 13-2 rout on Saturday.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 15-13 overall and 7-2 in the Southern Intercollegiat Athletic Conference, while Benedict falls to 17-6 and 8-4 in the SIAC.
The Tigers used an 11-run first inning and tough defense to stifle Benedict.
“That was a big shutdown inning for us,” Stillman coach Donny Crawford said. “Our guys hit the ball extremely well and never let up. We knew we were going to need some runs because we were unsure of who we were going to pitch. It’s a credit to our guys for doing what it took to get the win.”
Dakota Todd earned the win for Stillman after 12⁄3 innings of work. Todd faced seven batters and had one strikeout. Christopher Lail took the loss for Benedict. Lail struggled on the mound, giving up eight runs with seven errors. Lail threw multiple wild pitches and hit two pitchers.

WSSU gives the SAU Falcons their first conference loss and takes control of the CIAA

RALEIGH, North Carolina  --  Winston-Salem State used a big fourth and sixth inning to come from behind to defeat the Saint Augustine's University Falcons, 7-4 in the first game of a double header played in Raleigh, NC.

With the win, the WSSU Rams improve to 24-8 and 9-1 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Saint Augustine's falls to 22-11, 9-1 in the CIAA.
St. Augustine's jumped out on the Rams in the third inning, scoring three runs on four hits, including three doubles in the inning.
But Winston-Salem State would battle back in the fourth inning, starting with Tyler Hickernell getting hit by a pitch. Rafael Gonzalez would double home Hickernell to get the Rams on the board.
After a Brandon Harrison walk, Travis Moore would triple home Gonzalez and Harrison to pull the Rams even at 3-3. Paco Martin would single home Moore to give WSSU a 4-3 lead.
The Falcons would continue to stay close, as they would plate another run in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game at 4-4.
The WSSU Rams would break the game open in the sixth inning, when they scored three runs on three hits and helped out with two errors by St. Augustine's. Rafael Gonzalez reached on an error, and Conner Andrus would sacrifice him over to second with a groundout bunt. Brandon Harrison doubled, scoring Gonzalez. Travis Moore singled putting runners on the corners with one out. Paco Martin would pick up an rbi with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Harrison. Moore would steal second and German Reyes would single him home to give the Rams a 7-4 lead.
Michael Dry (2-2) picked up the win for WSSU pitching three scoreless innings, and Seth Mahaffey picked up the save pitching a scoreless seventh inning.
Travis Moore finished the game going two for four with two runs scored and two runs batted in. Paco Martin went two for three with two rbi's, and German Reyes and Rafael Gonzalez each went one for four with a rbi, with Gonzalez also scoring two runs. Brandon Harrison went one for two with two runs scored and an rbi. Martin, Gonzalez and Harrison each had doubles, with Moore picking up a triple.
WSSU Rams Shut Down SAU Falcons 3-1
RALEIGH, North Carolina --   Winston-Salem State scored two runs in the first inning, and held on for a 3-1 win over the Saint Augustine's University Falcons in the second game of a double header played in Raleigh, NC.
With the win, the WSSU Rams improve to 25-8 and 10-1 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Saint Augustine's falls to 22-12, 9-2 in the CIAA.
Travis Moore walked to start the game and quickly stole second. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, German Reyes would triple home Moore. Aaron Jones would single home Reyes in the next at bat to give the Rams the early 2-0 advantage.
The Saint Augustine's University Falcons would come right back with a run of their own on a single and double, to pull within one.
But that one run advantage would be all the Rams would need, as both teams were shut down with solid pitching and timely defense throughout the middle innings.
Winston-Salem State would ice the game in the seventh inning on a Brandon Harrison solo home run to left field.
Brandon Harrison finished one for two with one home run and one rbi, while German Reyes finished one for three with one run scored and a run batted in. Aaron jones went one for three with one rbi.
Jordan Carlton (4-0) picked up the win for the Rams, scattering five hits and just one run, while striking out three. John Markley came on in relief and pitched 3.2 innings giving up just two hits with three strikeouts. Seth Mahaffey came on to record the final out and picked up the save with a strikeout.
The WSSU Rams will go for the three game sweep of the Saint Augustine's Falcons tomorrow, with a nine inning game scheduled for 3:00 PM.

Benches clear as Savannah State sweeps Bethune-Cookman in doubleheader

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida  --  Catcher Chris Biocic's pickoff throw to third base sailed into left field, allowing Savannah State's Lee Moore to score the go-ahead run Saturday as the Tigers completed a doubleheader sweep against Bethune-Cookman with a 3-2 victory at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.

The game was marred by a bench-clearing incident in the third inning that led to two Savannah State players and one B-CU player to be ejected.

In the first game, Tigers ace Kyle McGowin improved to 7-0 on the season as Savannah State ripped B-CU 14-4. The pro prospect scattered nine hits and struck out nine in eight innings without walking a batter.
“We knew they were going to throw a really good pitcher in the first game, and he did a good job,'' B-CU coach Jason Beverlin said. “We had some good swings early in the game, but we let it get away from us.''
The Wildcats fell to 13-16, 6-5 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They have already matched their MEAC loss total of last season, which was their most conference losses since 2005. The 'Cats had gone undefeated in the conference two years in a row (2010-11).

FAMU looking to capitalize on Holmes and home slate

TALLAHASSEE, Florida  --  Despite a 4-7 finish by the FAMU football team last season, marketing director Angie Suggs isn’t pulling her hair out as she tries to come up with a sales pitch to prospective sponsors.

Instead, she believes she has gotten a plum with the hire of Earl Holmes. His popularity has soared since he became head coach. On top of that, the Rattlers will play five of their 12 games this season at Bragg Stadium.

Suggs calls it a marketer’s dream. She believes the timing is perfect as FAMU pushes to recruit a younger generation of prospective season-ticket buyers. Most of the Rattlers’ current season-ticket holders have been doing so for as many as three decades or longer, she said.

That’s why Suggs is focusing on the 30-something alums.

The Holmes effect is priceless, she said, because it touches people on several levels. Holmes went from a small FAMU DRS to a walk-on who made the university’s team and later had a 10-year NFL career.


TSU Ends First Week Of Practice With Scrimmage

NASHVILLE, Tennessee  --  Tennessee State football ended the first week of spring practice on Saturday morning with a scrimmage at Hale Stadium.

One of the key position battles to watch during the spring heading into the fall is at running back with the departure of Trabis Ward. Two backs fighting for playing time are sophomore Telvin Hooks and freshman Adam Davenport. Hooks and Davenport talked to the media after the morning scrimmage.

Follow TSU Athletics on, Twitter @TSU_Tigers and YouTube .

Saturday, March 30, 2013

NSU's Evans, Stony Brook Young throw their hats in the ring

POUGHKEEPSIE, New York  --  As speculation grows about who the new Marist College men’s basketball head coach will be, two coaches Thursday confirmed their interest in the job to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

“I’d definitely be interested. It’s a great opportunity,” Anthony Evans, who just concluded his sixth season as Norfolk State University’s head coach, told the Journal.

Evans led the 15th-seeded Spartans to their first NCAA tournament ever and a first-round upset of second-seeded Missouri last year; former Marist forward Rob Johnson was a member of that team. From 1999-2001, Evans was a coach at Ulster County Community College, where he earned Region XV Coach of the Year honors in 2001. He was also an assistant coach at SUNY New Paltz.

Stony Brook associate head coach Jay Young, a 1986 Marist graduate, also told the Journal the Red Foxes’ vacancy intrigues him.

“I definitely have an interest in the job,” said Young, who has reached the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Final Four, among other postseason experience in his quarter-century as a coach.


Metil Leaves UMES Volleyball Program for Towson U.

TOWSON, Maryland  --  Donald Metil, the highly-successful coach at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore for the last six years, has been named as the new head volleyball coach at Towson University, it has been announced by Director of Athletics Mike Waddell.

"Towson University is excited to announce the addition of Don Metil as our new volleyball head coach," said Waddell. "When we began our search we were looking for a coach with good experience and one that had been a champion. Don was a perfect fit. He has recruited the best talent both here from Maryland and elsewhere around the country. He will continue expand on the foundation of winning we have here at Towson."

The 11th coach in Towson University volleyball history, Metil spent six years as the head coach at UMES and compiled a 145-44 (.767) record during that time. He led the Hawks to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Championship in 2011 and 2012 and appeared in the NCAA Tournament each of those years.
Metil led UMES to the best season in school history in 2012. In addition to posting a 28-6 record and an 11-1 MEAC mark, UMES won three in-season tournaments and the MEAC Tournament before falling to Nebraska in the NCAA Tournament.

A three-time MEAC Coach of the Year, he guided UMES to six straight MEAC Northern Divisional titles and four undefeated conference seasons.

Metil's squads won at least 20 matches in each of his six seasons at UMES and finished among the Top 5 in the nation for service aces per set during each of those years. He had 18 players earn all-conference honors during his six years with the Hawks. That group included the MEAC Rookie of the Year four times and two winners of the MEAC Player of the Year award.

"I would like to thank Towson University for this exciting opportunity and a chance to move back to the area," said Metil. "After speaking with Mike Waddell, I was impressed and motivated by his overall vision for the athletics department and look forward to working under his leadership. Our focus will be to develop a program that wins championships, graduates it student-athletes and is respected in the Towson community."

Prior to his tenure at UMES, Metil served as the head coach at Coppin State for two years. He helped the Eagles qualify for the MEAC Tournament twice and coached the 2005 MEAC Rookie of the Year. Metil has also served as the head coach at Lees-McRae and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

Before starting his collegiate coaching career, Metil served as a high school coach and junior Olympic club team coach in the Baltimore Metro area while teaching at Dumbarton Middle School.

Metil earned a dual bachelor's degree in secondary education and sports medicine from California University of Pennsylvania in 1996. He played collegiate volleyball for the Vulcans, serving primarily as a setter.

He earned a master's degree from Loyola University in secondary education in 2002.


Friday, March 29, 2013

XU's Jackson, tops in 2 NAIA events, wins national award

Zahri Jackson
NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana's Zahri Jackson was selected NAIA National Women's Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week, the NAIA announced Wednesday.

Jackson, a sophomore from Kingwood, Texas, and a graduate of Kingwood Park High School, won for March 18-24 after producing NAIA season-best times Saturday in the 800-meter run (2 minutes, 12:01 seconds) and the 1,600-meter relay (3:54.13) at the LSU Relays in Baton Rouge, La.

Both times are the only ones to meet the A-qualifying standard in those events for the NAIA Outdoor Championships at Marion, Ind., in May. They're also the Gold Nuggets' fastest times since Xavier revived its track and field program in 2010. Jackson ran the second leg of the 1,600 relay and teamed with Devinn Rolland, Tramaine Shannon and Chartia Hurt.

This is the first time an athlete in the XU track or cross country program has received the NAIA's weekly award.

The Gold Nuggets and Gold Rush are not competing this week during Xavier's spring break. They'll resume competition April 5 in the Mississippi College Twilight Invitational at Clinton, Miss., and April 13 in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans. Xavier is the host school for the GCAC meet.

By Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Information

PV Lady Panthers take SWAC bowling championship title

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas  --  History has repeated itself with the Lady Panthers bowling team defending its title and becoming the 2013 Southwestern Athletic Conference Champions by beating Alabama A&M like last years competition.

Coming into the tournament at number four, like in 2012, having to beat Alabama A&M twice to claim the title. Losing their first game against Texas Southern University 4-1, the Lady Panthers came back and eliminated Texas Southern and Jackson State in a 4-3 game.

The Lady Bulldogs rolled through the rounds on Saturday. In the first match, Prairie View started well, blowing past A&M 231-175.

After the red-hot start, the Lady Panthers struggled in the next three games. The Lady Bulldogs capitalized, posting 154-150, 179-173 and 171-147 wins.

The second championship match did not go in Prairie View’s favor as Alabama A&M won the first two games 160-157, 170-122.

Making a comeback, the Lady Panthers won the next three games 189-170, 201-133, and 171-147, but the Lady Bulldogs did not let up that easy. They tied the series and won the sixth game 202-191.

An opportunity knocked at the Lady Bulldogs door giving them an open from the Lady Panthers. At the 10th frame, Collins stood on the approach with a chance to put the Lady Bulldogs in the lead. She responded with a strike and a spare, giving the Lady Bulldogs a slim lead and putting all of the pressure on freshman Ashle Reid.

Alabama A&M was on its way to a third SWAC title, however, Prairie View was not going to let that happen.

Despite her knee injury Reid stepped up to the line with the game in her hand. With both teams standing on their toes she nailed a strike giving Prairie View the title.

Day one of the tournament Prairie View was fourth in pinfalls beating Alabama A&M, Southern State, and Jackson State. Alexis Holmes had the best pinfall average knocking down 951 in the tournament Brittney Wehmeier followed behind knocking down 897 pins.

FAMU Rattlers Under The Lights At Bragg Stadium

Rattler James Owens returns a kick
TALLAHASSEE, Florida  --   It’s Tuesday morning, and while most people are snug in their beds as 43-degree temperatures test the levels of insulation in their homes, the Rattler football team is at full tilt. It’s 5:45 a.m. and the Rattlers are 15 minutes into their spring football practice inside Bragg Memorial Stadium. New head coach Earl Holmes has decided that practicing that early has several benefits.

“At some point, your team has to be mentally tough. Looking at what we’re trying to get done here and looking at the style of ball we’re going to play here, we’ve got to make sure that the elements are not a part of it. Whether we’re playing in the sun or strong winds or rain, we’ve got to be ready to execute,” Holmes said.

The team is even varying locations for practice, utilizing the regular practice field, Bragg Stadium and the campus recreation turf fields in a rotation of venues. Holmes feels this will help with the team’s preparedness and insure that nothing is mundane about spring football practice this year.

FAMU offensive coordinator Quinn Gray signals a play to quarterback Damien Fleming, who executes the play, throwing a crisp pass right between the 2 and 7 on the chest of receiver Lenworth Lennon. Lennon promptly throws a move, causing a defensive back to miss, that draws whoops from the offensive sideline and exposing an energy that the new era has brought to the program.

The Rattlers have 12 games lined up for the 2013 slate, but they pale in comparison to the competition internally on the team. Coach Holmes has stated that 21 positions are open as of spring, excluding quarterback he said with a laugh. Fleming will be regarded as the top returning quarterback in the MEAC and FAMU’s top professional quarterback prospect since Gray finished his playing days.

With All-American kicker Chase Varnadore handling kickoffs and field goals, special teams coach Juan Vasquez now turns his attention to replacing punter Branden Holdren. Right at mid-practice, the Rattlers went over punt team coverage drills, where heir-apparent Colby Blanton booted a 60-yard booming kick that had the scout team returners retreating. In usual Vasquez fashion, he commented to Blanton that the punt was “okay.”

Holmes, a career defensive guy, seems to be rooting more for the offense these days. “As a head coach, I have to concentrate on our weaknesses. Last year, obviously we struggled offensively and now I want to see progress in our offense and I’m confident that coach Gray and his staff will bring better results for us,” Holmes said.

 Coach Quinn Gray talks with Damien Fleming.

Surveying players on the sideline, the best analysis they could give about the new direction of the team is “it’s just different.” Holmes said he accepts that notion. “If different means better, then I can attest to that. We’ve talked about it among the coaching staff and in player meetings and it’s about moving forward and that’s what we are concentrating on,” Holmes said.

Minutes later, a receiver caught a pass on the sideline and was popped by a defensive back. The team energy was evident as the mode was rowdy…a competitive rowdiness that brought smiles to all of the coaches. The energy of internal competition is evident.

The Rattlers have about eight working days before they publicly unveil the changes to the team. The annual Orange & Green Game is Apr. 6, 2013 at Bragg Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m. Coming off a disappointing 4-7 season, Rattler fans are anxious as well to see what Holmes and his staff have to add to the FAMU legacy.

“I’ve seen some of our underclassmen starting to raise some eyebrows. Guys are improving and understanding what we’re looking for and understanding the tempo of practice, while playing close attention to detail. We’re going to continue to put our best foot forward and try to play some Rattler football,” Holmes concluded.

The Rattlers will play five home games in Bragg Stadium and two more games in the state of Florida. To order your season tickets, please call (850)599-3141. To renew your Rattler Booster memberships, please call (850)224-6093.


Rush 24th in postseason poll for second consecutive year

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana is 24th for the second consecutive year in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Postseason Poll.

The Gold Rush (24-8) arrived there after dropping eight spots from the previous poll on March 6 — and 11 places in the final two polls. Opening-round losses to Dillard in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament and to Faulkner in the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship helped bring the Rush down in the rankings.

Xavier was 19th in the preseason poll and spent seven weeks in the top 15, including a high of 11th place on Jan. 22. The Gold Rush were one of six teams to drop seven or more places and remain in the top 25.

This is the third consecutive year and the fourth time in Dannton Jackson's 10 seasons as head coach that the Gold Rush are in the final top 25 of the season. This is the second consecutive year that the final poll was conducted after the national tournament.

Xavier will enter the 2013-14 season trying to extend a streak of 24 consecutive top-25 appearances. The Gold Rush have appeaered in the top 25 in 37 of the last 38 polls.

NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches'
Top 25 Postseason Poll

(first-place votes in parentheses — records through end of season)

Rank Team Record Points Last
1 Georgetown (Ky.) (11) 28-8 281 tie-13
2 Southwestern Assemblies of God 33-5 272 6
3 Lindsey Wilson 33-5 262 2
4 LSU-Shreveport 27-7 254 25
5 Columbia (Mo.) 35-1 245 1
6 Montana Western 24-10 228 tie-13
7 John Brown 28-7 223 4
8 Lee (Tenn.) 30-4 221 3
9 Evangel 26-7 211 9
10 Culver-Stockton 26-9 187 RV
11 Oklahoma Baptist 25-8 177 10
12 Westmont 25-8 166 11
13 MidAmerica Nazarene 26-10 163 RV
14 Faulkner 29-6 162 18
15 Pikeville 26-7 159 8
16 Martin Methodist 21-11 152 tie-20
17-tie Hope International 26-8 137 tie-16
17-tie Cal State San Marcos 23-7 137 7
19 Lewis-Clark State 26-6 134 5
20 Concordia (Calif.) 23-11 112 23
21 William Carey 25-6 106 12
22 Philander Smith 25-8 94 22
23 St. Thomas (Texas) 28-6 80 tie-20
24 Xavier 24-8 78 tie-16
25 Emmanuel (Ga.) 28-5 67 15

Others receiving votes: Montana State Northern 66, Arizona Christian 52, Life 37, Science & Arts 30, Voorhees 11, Rocky Mountain 7, Bethel (Tenn.) 5, Campbellsville 4.

By Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Summer Camp Dates Set For Tennessee State Football

NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Dates have been set for the annual TSU Lil' Tiger and TSU Prospect Camps this summer.

The TSU Lil' Tiger Camp is scheduled from June 3-6 at Hale Stadium. Camp will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day with boys ages 6-14 eligible to participate. For more information,
click here to read the brochure.

The TSU Prospect Camps will begin on June 7 at Hale Stadium. The Tigers will go on the road to Memphis on June 9, Chattanooga on June 13 and conclude the camp season on July 20 with the Music City Shootout and OL/DL Camp.

For more information, click here to read the brochure.

To check out camp information for all TSU sports, CLICK HERE.

XU Nuggets 7-0 vs. ranked teams after beating Embry-Riddle

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Xavier University of Louisiana's women's tennis team defeated Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 7-2 Thursday to remain unbeaten this season against ranked NAIA opponents.

The Gold Nuggets, ranked eighth, are 11-7 overall but 7-0 against ranked teams. The XU women won against a top-10 team for the second time ever and the first time in eight years. Embry-Riddle (6-8) is ranked seventh and was the NAIA runner-up a year ago.

Embry-Riddle's second-ranked men defeated eighth-ranked Xavier 8-1.

Kourtney Howell and Amanda Materre, both losers in singles Wednesday in the Nuggets' victory against Northwood (Fla.), bounced back with doubles and singles victories against Embry-Riddle. Materre and Olivia West scored first in the dual with an 8-2 doubles victory against Ana Gonzalez-Hoy and Meena Bennett. Howell and Brion Flowers, No. 12 in the ITA's NAIA doubles rankings, followed with an 8-5 victory against fourth-ranked Hui-I Huang and Kristina Marova.

The Nuggets won 5-of-6 singles matches, including Howell's 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) victory against Huang -- the reigning NAIA Player of the Week -- and Materre's 7-5, 6-1 decision over Paola Montero. Freshman Vashni Balleste clinched the dual with her 6-3, 6-2 victory against Bennett at No. 6.

Also winning for Xavier was Simone-Alyse Ewell in a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory against Giovanna Tomiotto and Amber Brown in a 6-0, 6-1 decision over Gonzalez-Hoy.

Xavier is the first NAIA women's team since 2009 to win at Embry-Riddle.

"The Nuggets put it all together today and played very well. This is the best they played this season," XU coach Alan Green said. "It shows what they are capable of when the entire team is involved in the match -- whether they are playing or cheering. We had great team spirit today, and the girls fed off each other."

In the men's dual, Viktor Svoboda scored the lone point for the Gold Rush (10-6). Svoboda won his eighth consecutive singles match, a 6-4, 6-3 decision against Miguel Lopez Gomez. Chris Freeman and Deni Zmak won in doubles and singles for the Eagles (13-2), and Zmak clinched with his 6-1, 6-1 victory against Loic Didavi at the top singles flight.

"Embry-Riddle is, in my opinion, the best team in the nation," Green said. "Our guys competed, but Embry-Riddle was just too much for us today."

Embry-Riddle snapped Xavier's season-high four-dual win streak. Four of the Gold Rush losses are to teams in the top seven in the most recent coaches poll.

The Gold Nuggets finished 3-0 and the Gold Rush 2-1 in their spring-break trip to Florida. Next duals for both will be at 3 p.m. on April 5 -- one week from Friday -- at William Carey, whose women are ranked second and men are sixth. The next XU home duals will start at 2 p.m. on April 6 against Auburn Montgomery and its top-ranked men and third-ranked women.

Results: Men Women

By Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Rush, Nuggets beat ranked teams from Northwood (Fla.)

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — Loic Didavi's three-set singles victory gave Xavier University of Louisiana a 5-4 men's tennis decision against Northwood (Fla.) on Wednesday.

The Gold Nuggets defeated Northwood 6-3.

All four teams are ranked in the NAIA. Xavier's men and women are eighth, Northwood's women are 14th, and Northwood's men are 15th.

The XU men (10-5) rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to increase their win streak to four duals, a season best. They've won seven of their last eight duals. The Nuggets (10-7) have won six of their last eight and are 6-0 this season against ranked NAIA opponents.

Didavi dropped a first-set tiebreaker 7-0 to Alvaro Iturriaga but won the next two sets 6-2, 6-3.

Didavi has eight consecutive singles victories and is 5-0 this semester in split-set matches.

"What can I say about how our guys competed today?" XU coach Alan Green said. "Northwood is very good and could have easily won this match. Today Loic was the guy who gutted out a victory for us when it was on the line."

Also with an eight-match win streak are Nikita Soifer and Viktor Svoboda, who gave Xavier its only doubles point with an 8-6 victory against David Cathalina and Nikita Borodatov. Soifer beat Guilherme Azambuja 6-0, 6-2 in singles, and Svoboda improved his win streak to seven with a 6-3, 6-1 decision against Borodatov. Scoring the other Gold Rush point was Kyle Montrel, a 6-1, 6-2 winner against Cathalina.

The Gold Rush have five victories this season against teams in the current NAIA top 25.

In the women's dual, the Gold Nuggets won for the first time in two years despite singles losses by Kourtney Howell and Amanda Materre. Picking up the slack included freshman Brion Flowers and sophomore transfer Olivia West, both winners in doubles and singles.

In doubles, Flowers and Howell defeated Rose Bellevue and Adelaide Wood 8-1, and West and Materre defeated Julia Ferraz and Melanie Snowberger 8-4. Flowers beat Bellevue 6-0, 6-0 in singles, and West clinched the dual with her 0-6, 6-2, 6-0 decision against Snowberger. Also rallying from a first-set deficit was Amber Brown, who defeated Ferraz 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

The Nuggets' other singles winner was Simone-Alyse Ewell, who beat Livia Toth 6-3, 6-3.

"Our women got some good production from our depth, which was much needed because our top of the lineup has been carrying us for the most part," Green said.
Justyna Wojcik, No. 7 in the ITA's NAIA singles rankings, defeated Kourtney Howell, who is eighth, 7-5, 7-5.

Northwood's men are 9-4, and the women are 7-5.

Both XU teams will conclude their Florida trip with duals at Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach. Embry-Riddle's men are ranked second in the NAIA, and the women are seventh.

Results: Men Women

By Ed Cassiere, SID

Gold Nuggets drop 5 places, rank 17th in postseason poll

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana dropped five spots to finish 17th Wednesday in the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Postseason Poll.

It's the lowest rank of the season for the Gold Nuggets (24-6), who closed the regular season with 12 consecutive victories before losing to Fisk in the quarterfinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament and to Faulkner in the opening round of the NAIA Division I National Championship.

Xavier was 11th in the preseason poll and spent six weeks in the top 10, including highs of ninth place on Dec. 11 and Jan. 8. The Nuggets were 10th on Feb. 26.

This is the fourth consecutive year and the 10th time in Bo Browder's 14 seasons as head coach that the Gold Nuggets are in the final top 25 of the season. This is the second consecutive year that the final poll was conducted after the national tournament. Xavier was 16th in the 2012 postseason poll.

Xavier will enter the 2013-14 season trying to extend a streak of 44 consecutive top-25 appearances. That streak began on Jan. 25, 2010.

NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches'
Postseason Top 25 Poll

(first-place votes in parentheses — records through end of season)
Rank Team Record Points Last
1 Westmont (11) 30-4 281 4
2 Lee (Tenn.) 34-3 271 7
3 Freed-Hardeman 34-2 262 1
4 Cumberland 33-3 255 6
5 Oklahoma City 28-4 245 2
6 Lubbock Christian 31-4 233 3
7 Westminster (Utah) 29-4 231 5
8 Vanguard 25-4 218 8
9 MidAmerica Nazarene 30-3 207 9
10 Campbellsville 25-10 196 14
11 Benedictine (Kan.) 28-6 189 11
12 The Master's 25-6 172 10
13 Georgetown (Ky.) 23-10 171 16
14 Rogers State 24-10 168 15
15 Shawnee State 24-10 149 18
16 Columbia (Mo.) 27-7 147 13
18 Faulkner 26-7 131 21
19 Wiley 29-4 114 17
20 Lyon 28-5 110 20
21 Carroll (Mont.) 21-10 108 23
22 William Woods 26-6 99 22
23 Our Lady of the Lake 30-4 82 20
24 Bethel (Tenn.) 21-11 66 24
25 Southern Poly 25-6 65 RV

Others receiving votes: LSU-Shreveport 64, St. Catharine 37, Coastal Georgia 36, Cumberlands 35, SUNO 17, Central Methodist 11, Auburn Montgomery 3.

By Ed Cassiere, SID

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Former Randolph-Clay Red Devils star Ellington closes college career on top at Texas Southern

Dexter Ellington #2 vs. Kansas State
HOUSTON, Texas — There’s frustration and there’s utter frustration — and then there’s what
Dexter Ellington went through this year.

Ellington, a former (Albany) Herald Super 6er, had a long journey from Randolph-Clay (High School, Cuthbert, Georgia), where he was a star for the Red Devils, then he landed at Texas Southern, where he was hoping to have a huge senior season.

A combination of some bad luck and a bad ankle made this an almost unbearable season for Ellington, a starting point guard who saw his frustration hit a high point last week when the NCAA Tournament began without him.

I’m sitting here watching Gonzaga play Southern (University) and I still can’t believe it,’’ Ellington said last Thursday as March Madness began. “We beat Southern (in our conference). We could have been there. We could be playing right now.’’

Texas Southern never had a chance. The Tigers were on probation because of violations committed by their former coach and were ineligible for postseason play. And to make things worse, Texas Southern not only won the SWAC regular season title by going 16-2 in the conference, but they ended the season as one of the hottest teams any where.

McClelland has TSU Athletics Department Back on Track

The TSU Football program has added Howard (2014) and Bethune-Cookman (2015) to its schedule

Dr. Charles McClelland
HOUSTON, Texas  --  As the old saying goes, anything good doesn’t come easy, and the task of turning around the Texas Southern University Athletics Department, wasn’t for Dr. Charles McClelland.

Approaching his fifth year anniversary as the head man in charge, Dr. McClelland along with his coaches, support staff, and the blessing of TSU President Dr. John Rudley, has the Tigers athletics program back on track and in much better shape than what he inherited.

Dr. Charles McClelland was named Texas Southern University’s Director of Athletics in April of 2008. In his position as athletics director, McClelland supervises 16 sports- nine women’s and seven men’s. His daily duties include managing budgets, scheduling, fundraising, marketing and keeping abreast of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules and regulations.

For McClelland, success in athletics is not just about winning championships, but it’s about graduating student-athletes.

“TSU athletic program is on a strong solid foundation,” McClelland said during a recent interview. “We’ve put a lot of time and energy in putting together a strategic plan across the board.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Morgan State football coach Donald Hill-Eley working to rebuild his program after firing that wasn't

BALTIMORE, Maryland  --  Donald Hill-Eley has always told his Morgan State football players that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond.

Now, after enduring as strange a few months as any college coach could fathom, Hill-Eley is striving to live by his own lesson.

In late November, following the Bears' third straight losing season, Hill-Eley accidentally received an e-mail outlining the university's plan to seek his replacement. For almost six weeks after that, as rival coaches ramped up recruiting for 2013, he heard nothing official about his status. Day after day, he reported to work but was not allowed to have contact with his team.

During the same time, the chairman of the university's Board of Regents attempted to oust Morgan president David Wilson, the man seemingly behind Hill-Eley's own uncertain situation. That coups was ultimately unsuccessful. In early January, Hill-Eley finally heard from Kevin Banks, the university's vice president for student affairs: Morgan would honor the final year of his contract and he would remain coach.

SCSU Bulldogs using spring practice to build offensive backfield

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina  --  The arrival of spring may not have marked a new beginning yet from a weather standpoint.

There is, however, a “rebirth” of sorts taking place currently with the South Carolina State football team. It’s occurring in the backfield where a staple of the Bulldogs’ offense – the running game- has performance less than stellar in recent seasons.

“We’re making a reemphasis toward running the football,” Running backs coach Danny Lewis said. “Not the say we ever got away from it from a mentality standpoint, but let’s just say we’re dedicated to making a recommitment towards running the football.”

Since the graduation of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s all-time rusher Will Ford in 2009, no Bulldog player has rushed for over 1,000 yards. With the offensive line’s struggles in run blocking and losing leading rusher Jalen “Scoot” Simmons with a shoulder injury late last season, S.C. State finished with its lowest conference ranking in rushing offense (133.5 yards per game) under head coach Buddy Pough.


Rush, Nuggets grill Webber in opener of Florida trip

BABSON PARK, Florida  --  Xavier University of Louisiana's tennis teams, both ranked eighth in the NAIA, won 15-of-17 matches played Tuesday and defeated Webber International's men and women in the opener of a spring-break trip.

The Gold Rush won 6-3, and the Gold Nuggets won 8-1.

Loic Didavi, Nikita Soifer, Kyle Montrel and Viktor Svoboda won in doubles and singles for the Rush (9-5), as did Kourtney Howell and Amanda Materre for the Nuggets (9-7). The XU men have won three straight and 6-of-7.

"Both our teams played well," XU coach Alan Green said. "The conditions were very tough out there because it was very windy. But we adjusted well and took care of our business on the court."

Didavi and Montrel defeated Valentin Bayh and Jonathan Cohen 8-3, their 11th victory in 13 doubles matches this semester. Soifer and Svoboda improved their win streak to seven with an 8-0 decision against Alwin Leysner and Nickolay Kodinov.

In singles, Didavi defeated Bayh 6-1, 6-2 for his seventh consecutive victory. Soifer defeated Kodinov 6-1, 6-3, Montrel beat Cohen 6-2, 6-2, and Svoboda clinched the dual with a 6-2, 6-0 decision against Leysner.

The Gold Nuggets won all three doubles matches for the sixth time this season and snapped three-match losing streaks at the No. 2 and 3 flights. Howell and Brion Flowers defeated Julija Stojkovska and Laura Nowak 8-3, Amber Brown and Simone-Alyse Ewell beat Nathalia Chaddad and Chandler Reed 8-5, and Materre and Olivia West defeated Holly Parnelll and Ashley Palmer 8-2.

Materre was first off the court in singles after beating Chaddad 6-0, 6-2. Howell then clinched the dual with a 6-2, 6-4 decision against Stojkovska at No. 1. Both Howell and Materre are 11-4 in singles this semester, and Howell has won six of her last seven matches.

West beat Parnell 6-2, 6-1, Jordyn Goody defeated Reed 6-0, 6-0, and Nicole DeLoach beat Palmer 6-2, 6-0.

Webber International's men are 9-6 -- the Warriors were 28th in the most recent NAIA poll -- and the women are 3-13. The Gold Rush snapped the Warriors' three-dual win streak and gave them their second loss in the last nine duals. The Lady Warriors have lost four straight.

Both XU teams will play Northwood (Fla.) at noon EDT at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla., a suburb north of Orlando. Northwood's men are ranked 15th in the NAIA, and the women are 14th.

By Ed Cassiere, SID