Braves unwilling to concede SWAC championship as of yet

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 23, 2003

LORMAN &045; There are probably 14 mores smiles today on the Alcorn State campus.

Not smiles of the ear-to-ear variety, but they’re more of the we’re-relaxed-and-ready-to-go smiles. They’re on the faces of coaches and players of the men’s basketball team, and they came from a two-game homestand where the Braves beat Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff over the weekend.

The two wins were the first in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this season for the Braves and built their first winning streak of the entire season.

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&uot;It’s time to get it on,&uot; Alcorn center Lee Cook said. &uot;We took it upon ourselves that we weren’t playing like we wanted. Everybody just took it upon themselves to look in the mirror &045; look what you’re not doing and bring it to the game. Bring it, get focused and turn things around.&uot;

Not only were things appearing gloom and doom for the Braves at 0-4 in conference, but two of those came at home &045;the place visiting teams hardly stood a chance in years past. The Braves’ overall record coming into the homestand was even worse at 2-14, but that’s of little consequence since a SWAC team has never made the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid.

But on the homestand the Braves moved the ball effectively on offense, got points off steals in the defense and had a balanced scoring attack.

&uot;That’s one thing I can say about this ball club &045; there’s never been one let up,&uot; said Alcorn head coach Davey L. Whitney, who posted his 500th win at Alcorn Monday night against UAPB. &uot;Not one moment where we didn’t think we could come back and win. I think our confidence should be up, but you never know about young people nowadays.&uot;

Right now that new feeling will be tested this weekend in a road swing to Alabama. Alabama State is up near the top of the standings, and playing on the road &045; regardless of whether it’s Honolulu or Normal, Ala. &045; is tough.

At least there’s still 12 more regular season games before the SWAC tournament.

&uot;We’re confident right now,&uot; Alcorn guard Jason Cable said. &uot;We feel like if we play together we can’t be beat right now.&uot;

INJURY REPORT &045; That photo on Tuesday’s front page was evidence of something the Braves are welcoming back &045; Cable is getting back to full form.

The senior guard missed time before the holidays with an injury and didn’t return until the Braves went to Hawaii after Christmas. Cable &045; who lists one of his career goals as being elected to a statewide office &045; came up with 15 points Monday in the Braves’ 79-50 beating of hapless UAPB while tossing in four 3-pointers.

Anything from the outside &045; excluding turnovers &045; is welcomed with the Braves’ established inside game.

&uot;When you have an injury like that, you just don’t come right back in two or three games,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;It takes you four or five games to get in basketball shape. It comes at a good time for us, too.&uot;

That’s because another shooter, junior swingman Tori Harris, has taken his place on the bench in street clothes. Harris missed both games of the homestand with an injury to his hand.

&uot;He’s been hurt, and the doctor advised us to let him rest for two games,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;We’ll try to rest him until Wednesday. He has a real painful injury &045; torn cartilage in his shooting hand. It’s a tribute to our team he’s hurt and we’ve still been able to win two ball games.&uot;