Jackson State picked up an unexpected bye week due to the game against MS VALLEY STATE being rescheduled due to COVID test results. Student athletes will have to quarantine, thus delaying the game this Saturday.
53 to 0! Jackson State kicked off the season February 21st with a blowout win over Edward Waters in their season opener. It was also the home opener for the Tigers. Amassing 435 yards of total offense while allowing only 104 yards, JSU handled the NAIA team with no problem. The defense engineered the first shutout since 2014. Looking fast, dominate, and methodical, the “Darkside Defense” did not hold back. Tymetrius Patte led the defense with 8 tackles. Edward Waters, Roshard Branch was 9 for 21 with 83 yards. He ran the ball 11 times for -9 yards. While Branch struggled, JSU quarterbacks, Jalon Jones and Quincy Casey thrived, combing for 252 yards, completing 25 of 33 passes. Jones was 17 of 19 for 163 yards with 2 touchdowns, Casey was 8 for 14 for 89 yards with 1 touchdown. Kymani Clarke was the workhorse on the ground for Jackson State, rushing 18 times for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns. Greg Williams gained 57 yards on 11 carries.
Coach Sanders was all smiles as he was doused in gatorade at the conclusion of the game. Sanders also received the trophy for winning the WC Gorden classic. Tiger fans in attendance left the game feeling positive about the upcoming season. A season that excludes Alcorn State University, who opted out of the season due to COVID concerns and lack of practice. All of Alcorn’s scheduled opponents will receive an automatic win. Next up for Jackson State is Mississippi Valley State. Game time is set for 2:00 pm.
Last week, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament had upset upon upset upon upset. After 136 games in tournament history, a 16th seeded team FINALLY defeated a number 1 seeded team. Never in history had this happened. The record going into last week was #1 seed (135-0) against #16 seed teams. University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) embarrassed the Virginia defeating them 74 to 54. A 20 point beatdown. No last second three pointer at the buzzer. No last second free throws granted by a bad referee call. No star player from Virginia getting injured during the game. None of that. Good old fashioned woodshed whupping, in front of the world. Cemented in history forever is UMBC.
UMBC’s victory was the biggest upset of the tournament, but far from being the only upset this season. 16 teams remain from the field of 68. Those teams are #11 Loyola-Chicago, #11 Syracuse, #9 Florida State, #9 Kansas State, #7 Texas A&M, #7 Nevada, #5 West Virginia, #5 Clemson, #5 Kentucky, #4 Gonzaga, #3 Michigan, #3 Texas Tech, #2 Purdue, #2 Duke, #1 Villanova, #1 Kansas. If the tournament played out according to plan, 9 of the 16 remaining teams would not be playing in the Sweet 16. Historically dominant schools are having to work harder than ever to bring in top level guys. Over the years, assistant coaches from powerhouse schools have become head coaches at traditionally lower level schools. These coaches are recruiting top level players using their knowledge of bigger schools against them. No longer MUST you go to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan State, etc to be seen by NBA scouts. Winning makes everyone take notice. UMBC’s twitter followers went from 5,000 to 40,000 following the historic win. Social media connects people in many ways now.
After the recent upsets in the NCAA men’s tournament, I took the time to ponder something. What if top level Mississippi men’s basketball players went to a school like Jackson State University instead of Mississippi State, Kansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, or Duke? Arguments can be made that players going to Mississippi State, have fared just as well as other Mississippi schools. 2009 was the last season that Mississippi State’s men made it into the NCAA tournament. Mississippi Valley State University, in 2012, was the last time a men’s team from Mississippi to make it into the NCAA tournament. Top high school boys basketball players continuing their career in Mississippi tend to gravitate towards Mississippi State. However, two players have transferred out of MSU, sat an entire season, and had impactful junior seasons at their new schools. Rodney Hood transferred to Duke in 2012, sat out 2013, had a breakout 2014 junior season with Duke, prompting him to enter the NBA draft. Hood was selected in the first round by the Utah Jazz. Hood was traded last month to Cleveland. Malik Newman transferred to Kansas in 2016. He sat out the 2017 season and is having a good junior season. Kansas is a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament with Newman being one of their main players capturing MVP of the Big 12 tourament a couple of weeks ago. Players transfer in and out of schools is no shock and mentioning the Hood and Newman transferring is no knock on Mississippi State basketball. They played for 2 different coaches, the “fit” just wasn’t right.
My point is this, what if, Malik Newman, Quinndary Weatherspoon, Devin Booker, Nick Weatherspoon, Wesley Harris, Maurice Dunlap, and other dandy dozen players from the past 4 years met up at a school like Jackson State? And this team, which would be a #16 seed because of the way the SWAC is viewed, knocked off a #1 seed, how would that help them all? How would it help the school? That makes it easy for the next wave of top players to choose the same school. UMBC received Steph Curry’s new released shoe, have been doing countless interviews, and enjoying NATIONAL spotlight. The spotlight is one of the main recruitment tools of big programs. This tournament has shown winning makes things happen no matter what seed you’ve been given. Players make the best choices based on facts and feelings at that time. Nothing is wrong with that. Sometimes it’s just cool to ponder things. Giving the changing culture of college basketball, do not be surprised if you see guys “team up” and sign together at a “small” school and makes some noise. Texas southern, coached my Mike Davis, former head coach of Indiana University, has made the tournament 4 of the past 5 seasons. Davis has gotten quality players to either transfer to or sign with Texas Southern. Recently, they won their play in game in the NCAA tournament. They lost their next game to Xavier, a #1 seed but have earned some respect winning the game before and staying relatively close to Xavier until they pulled away to win by 19.
Mississippi State men’s team under head coach Ben Howlin, won over 20 games this season with “Que” Weatherspoon, his brother Nick Weatherspoon, Xavien Stapelton, just to name a few bulldog players. After beating Louisville 79 to 56, the bulldogs have advance to the Final Four of the NIT Tournament in New York City.
From 1400 Murrah Drive to 1400 J.R. Lynch Street. Former Murrah Lady Mustang and Former Jackson State Lady Tigers Graduate Assistant coach, Tomekia Reed returns home to lead the Lady Tigers, this time as the head coach. Coach Reed has been coaching for a span of 14 years. Beginning at the junior college level at South Georgia Technical College, Coach Reed realized she wanted to be involved with women’s basketball in some way. She came to Jackson State as a graduate assistant, within 30 days, she was promoted to second assistant coach and the following year, first assistant coach. From JSU, she moved on to University of Louisiana Lafayette for a season. Coach Reed came back to Mississippi working in Hattiesburg at Southern Mississippi. While there, USM had the number 1 recruiting class in the state, with Coach Reed being an integral part of the recruiting. Coach Reed would have stops at Louisiana Tech and the University of New Orleans before landing the head coaching job at Hinds Community College.
Taking over at Hinds was a challenge. The women’s program had not been respected in over 15 seasons. Losing was a part of the norm. Reed’s first season (2015-2016), she finished 10 & 13. First time Hinds’ lady bulldogs reached double digit victories in a long time. Pounding the pavement, Coach Reed and her coaching staff, brought in more recruits, instilled work ethic and discipline and went on to have one of the most successful seasons in Hinds’ history. They finished the regular season, 18 & 5, and reached the NJCAA Region 23 Title Game. Hinds did not reach the championship game this past season, but still managed to have a winning season. They won their first 10 games of the season, to reach 10 & 0 for the first time in school history. During her tenure at Hinds, Coach Reed won over 45 games in 3 seasons.
When she left JSU, she knew she wanted to come back one day as the head coach. Described as her “Dream Job”, coach Reed takes over the reigns from Surina Dixon. Dixon went 82-93 overall and 55-53 in the SWAC in 6 seasons. Coach Reed explained her vision for the program. Some of the goals outlined by Coach Reed are (1) Graduate all her students on time (2) Provide a quality college experience, wants players and former players to be excited about the program and help recruit (3) Develop women for life after college, character development will be big (4) Culture of discipline (5) Set the bar back high, JSU was on top when she was an assistant coach.
Candidates from all over the country applied for the women’s basketball job. Assistant coaches from SEC schools, former head coaches, current head coaches of programs as well. Jackson State University President, Dr. Bynum commended the committee on their diligent work.
Now the fun begins. One of the first things Coach Tomekia Reed has to do is recruit players. It’s late in the game for next season, but isn’t entirely over. Most top players have committed and signed. Coach Reed made mention that she wanted to get to know the players currently on roster, learn their strengths and weaknesses. Tiger fans can expect a high-octane team next season. Up tempo offensive, in your face defense. Coach Reed is an energetic coach who gets after it. She will be able to attract local players to stay home as well as bring players from other parts of the country. Expectations will be high, but if her tenure at Hinds is an indication, success will be high also.