Jan. 21, 2014
The goals of the Fayetteville State men’s basketball team have not changed.
The mission under head coach Alphonza Kee has long been – and continues to be – the same: Win the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament and then win the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Lofty goals, sure. But why set goals that aren’t? And this year’s Broncos teams looks like it’s making serious progress toward being in position to knock off at least one of those targets.
FSU currently sits 5-2 in CIAA play, the best start since Kee inherited the head coaching reins in 2009. Right now, everybody is buying into the same mission.
“We’re pretty excited where we’re at,” Kee said. “We have a chance to reach our goals.”
As the season has progressed, so have the Broncos. From an offense-first team that struggled limiting baskets in the early part of the nonconference season to a team who earns its keep defensively, FSU hasn’t stopped winning along the way.
The Broncos now allow the fourth-fewest points in the CIAA, just 72.4 points per contest. Teams shoot 41.2 percent against FSU, the lowest-success rate in the league, and the Broncos force a league-best 17.5 turnovers per contest.
The defensive improvement is a testament to this team, a team that has bought into the system from Day One, thanks to a quartet of seniors and a few newcomers who get the winning concept.
“It’s a combination of things,” Paul Lane (Atlanta, GA) said. “One is mentality. Mentality this year has been something different that I’ve never seen before. I’m a redshirt senior and I’ve been here for five years and just the mentality is something different. One other thing is recruitment. We brought in some different players who bring a different dynamic to the game. The combination of mentality and recruitment have given us this jump that we knew was coming.”
Three seniors (Tyrrel Tate
, Travis Marcus
and Louis Craft
) start for this team. They are joined by freshman Joshua Dawson
(Kinston, NC) and junior transfer Torian Showers
(Dublin, GA), two players new to the program who have played well from the beginning.
Dawson averages a league-best 5.1 assists and has been honored with CIAA Rookie of the Week accolades three different times. Showers is second on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.1 rebounds per game).
Tate, meanwhile, is the conference’s sixth-leading scorer at 18.2 points per game.
“It’s good chemistry,” Dawson said. “(The seniors) came here for a reason. They didn’t come here to be losers. They came here to be winners. From high school to now, they were all winners. They’re leading us. We’re playing big roles, but the fact that they’re leading us is helping us out a lot.”
Perhaps the only adversity this team has overcome has been getting off the mat after two early losses in the team’s first four games and two back-to-back losses early in conference play.
But after dropping double-digit leads in defeats against Elizabeth City State and at Livingstone, this team did just that – it rebounded quickly.
Three straight wins later, this team seems to be right on track to accomplishing the goals it set for itself.
“It’s family, man,” Dawson said. “We’re just brothers. We stick with each other through the whole 40 minutes. Throughout 40 minutes for our whole entire life, we have to stick together on game day.”