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Recon: Alabama A&M

[fullwidth_section text_color=”dark” background_type=”image” image=”” padding_bottom=”1350″] [spacer height=”25″] [title type=”fancy-h5″ color=””]Why Alabama A&M?[/title]

Alabama A&M is the most confounding game Dayton has on the schedule this season. The majority of UD’s home games are either against regional foes (Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Miami Ohio, etc.) or programs owing the Flyers a return trip in a home-and-home series (Boston, the Fightin’ Gregory’s, Ole Miss). Suffice it to say, Alabama A&M sticks out on the calendar like a gay man in Kohl’s.

There are only two reasons Alabama A&M and the University of Dayton are playing this game. (1) So UD can deliver a win in front of the rubes to start the season, and (2) to fatten A&M’s financial bottom line so the Bulldog athletic ship can remain afloat, traversing the country pointlessly, taking savage beatings in front of disinterested crowds.

Last season there were reports out of Grambling  (like Alabama A&M, a historically black college) confirming stories that the football program was so financially strapped for cash players were essentially sharing jockstraps – sometimes two players would wear the same one simultaneously – and taking a bus to shower at nearby truck stops after practice. Reports like these aren’t an anomaly among low-level athletic programs, they are the norm.

With only a handful of Division One athletic programs at public universities turning a profit each year, it becomes clear why higher education labels itself a “not-for-profit” business. Well-funded athletic programs (such as Penn State, Ohio State, LSU and Texas) can depend on private donations, ticket sales, royalties from rights fees and sponsorships, and distributions from lucrative television contracts to cushion losses from lesser-supported sports. The Alabama A&M’s of the world rely on guarantee games to merely stem the financial tide.

A&M’s athletic budget totals approximately $6.5 million, the overwhelming majority of which goes to support the Bulldog football team. According to the NCAA’s current database, Alabama A&M total revenue last season was just north of six million dollars, their expenses totaled nearly seven million dollars. That’s not good business, it’s a system literally predicated on losing the least amount of money possible. In sum, small-time college athletic programs are built to fail.

Schools of A&M’s ilk will schedule a team 400+ miles away like Dayton, with its requisite travel and boarding costs, and then wonder why they can’t seem to make ends meet at the end of the season. Further perplexing is A&M’s scheduling philosophy, as the Bulldogs travel to Dayton to open the season and then return to the Buckeye State three weeks later to take on Bowling Green. A sane man may ask: why not schedule visits to UD and Bowling Green in the same week, cutting down on costs? How about only scheduling teams within a reasonable bus ride from campus?

To make matters worse, Alabama A&M receives a bulk of its athletic operating costs through public subsides, hard-earned taxpayer money, to the tune of 75% of their budget. So not only does the Bulldog athletic department continually lose money like a government entitlement program, it repeatedly loses taxpayer-sourced funds…like a government entitlement program.

Maybe the question isn’t how low-level programs like Alabama A&M can effectively cut costs to keep their fledgling, and quite honestly unnecessary, athletic programs operative. An honest discussion should revolve on whether these types of schools, who routinely appear on the NCAA’s APR hit-list, should field athletic teams at all.

Anyway, enough of this tangent. Let focus at the real issue at hand: a Friday night game, what in the fuck is that about?


[title type=”fancy-h5″ color=””]Black Jesus[/title]

williehayesA&M Head Coach Willie Hayes seems like the perfect man to lead a HBC basketball team. Hayes suited up for the Bulldogs in the mid-80’s and is considered one of, if not the, best players to ever play for A&M (He averaged an impressive 24 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds per game during his senior season). Coach Willie is a heavy set man of color that would likely scoff at the mere mention of a double-buttoned suit, the type of fellow that probably has a picture of Black Jesus in his hallway just to make his guests uncomfortable.

Hayes has done  a solid job since taking over the Bulldog program, as the program’s win totals have increased in each season under his stead. A&M has appeared in back-to-back conference semifinals and last year’s 14 wins was the most since the 2004-05 season. Alabama A&M is a steadily improving program — but as I alluded to earlier, what’s the point?

Not to harp on it, I’m going to anyway, but what’s the end game when taking a head coaching job at a HBCU? I understand everyone has to start somewhere, however I can seem to find a successful coach from a MEAC or SWAC program that has gone onto continued success elsewhere. Honestly, the only head coach I can even remember getting a little bit of limelight was the white guy that got picked up by one of his players and spread-eagled after beating Iowa State in the NCAA tournament.[ref]His name was Steve Merfeld. He got Hampton back into the Dance the next season and accepted the head job at Evansville after the Pirates lost in the first round. Merfeld posted a 59-91 record in five years at Evansville before getting the sack. He joined Bradley as an assistant and “stepped down” midway through the 2009 season. He is currently on Greg McDermott’s staff at Creighton.[/ref]

The only HBC basketball I could ever name off the top of my head was Fang Mitchell, and that’s strictly due to his bad-ass name and multiple appearances in the NCAA Tournament as the head man at Coppin State. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if a historically black college ever offers you a head coaching position, think long and hard about it. Hope this helps.

[fullwidth_section text_color=”dark” background_type=”image” image=”” padding_bottom=”1050″] [spacer height=”25″] [title type=”fancy-h5″ color=””]Overview[/title]

Alabama A&M is coming off a 14-16 season, its best winning percentage in almost a decade, and a fifth-place finish in the humble SWAC.

Picked to finish seventh in the SWAC this season, the Bulldogs lost six seniors from last season’s squad and return just one starter for this year’s campaign. Out of necessity, A&M has restocked the roster with eight (eight!) players from the JUCO ranks. Coach Harris treats the JUCO circuit like it’s his own personal harem.

There are two intriguing aspects to Harris’ JUCO signings:

(1)    The fact that five of the incoming players are from two programs (3 from Shelton State and 2 from East Mississippi Community College). This indicates that even when it comes to a pool of potential recruits that are desperate for a shot, any shot, at D1 basketball, Alabama A&M cannot afford to be discerning.

(2)    The arrival of Isaiah Cotton, a seven-footer from New Mexico Junior College. Cotton is fascinating in the sense that a seven-footer who has to go the JUCO route must be an absolutely dreadful basketball player. Thiago Cordeiro may be Hakeem Olajuwon in comparison.

Like seemingly all low-level basketball programs, Alabama A&M employs a slow-paced offensive style and packs it in defensively. The ‘Dogs don’t play to win, they play with the sole purpose of not embarrassing themselves. This, of course, has the unfortunate effect of eliminating almost any chance to win against teams with superior ability. Which if you are a team tasked solely with taking beatings for money, probably doesn’t offend your higher-ups.

In sum, Alabama A&M is short on talent, experience and resolve. UD couldn’t have picked a better opponent to get their feet wet against.

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**It’s almost impossible to tell who will play for Bama A&M on Friday night because they have ten newcomers and their website gets updated about as frequently as this one. So consider this our best guess **

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Nicholas West • F (6’10″/190) • Jr.
2013-14: 6.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg

West is the Bulldogs’ top returning scorer and rebounder, literally A&M’s only proven commodity coming into this season. Although he has the ability to face up and shoot, he will spend most of his time on the low block.

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Justin Colvin • G (6’3″/190) • Jr.
2013-14: 3.4 ppg, 0.4 apg

Colvin is expected to be the Bulldogs’ main cog in the backcourt. Have you guys seen Kim Kardashian’s dumper yet?


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Ladarius Tabb • G/F (6’5″/190) • Jr.
2013-14: 16.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg (JUCO)

Had to pull this picture off of Tabb’s Instagram account. Dude likes to get turnt, y’all. Tabb is supposedly drawing raves for his athleticism, we will see.

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Michael Hutchins • F (6’6″/2-5) • Jr.
2013-14: 8.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg (JUCO)

This obviously isn’t Mike Hutchins, the basketball player from Alabama A&M. It’s Michael Hutchence, former lead singer of INXS and one of God’s angels. Dude got so much tang that he had to jack his dong with a belt around his neck just to get off. We should all be so lucky. He died doing what he loved.

[/column] [/row] [row] [column size=”col-3″]

Xavier Williams • F (6’8″/205) • So.
2013-14: 1.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg

I could watch Birdman ten times and still not know what the fuck was going on.

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Quinterian McConico • F (6’8″/235) • Jr.
2013-14: 4.7 ppg, 65% fg (JUCO)

A big body who could barely score while at Wallace State, Bobby Wherli will eat his lunch.

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Rakiya Battle • G (5’10″/180) • So.
2013-14: 1.8 ppg, 1.1 a/to

Like a picture on a Mexican wedding announcement, this was taken in a bathroom.

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Tyler Davis • G (6’2″/180) • Jr.
2013-14: 3.3 ppg, 1.2 a/to

Davis is one of the few returning players with actual game experience.

[/column] [/row] [fullwidth_section text_color=”dark” background_type=”color” bg_color=”#C4D8E2″] [spacer height=”25″] [title type=”fancy-h5″ color=””]Prediction[/title]

KENPOM1Love the confidence from UD’s media department:

Last time Dayton broke the 100-point scoring mark in a season opener was on Nov. 23, 1991 when UD defeated Austin Peay 101-94.

If Alabama A&M could afford a bulletin board, this would be on it, just fueling their fire.

This game should be a complete blowout, a mere warmup for what will likely (hopefully) be UD’s toughest three-game stretch of games this season coming next week in Puerto Rico.

We already know this year will be letdown from last season, that’s a given, but it will certainly have some intrigue — consider this tweet:





I hope Ted Fitz (go look him up) takes Wehrli under his wing and teaches him how to play five minutes a game without being a factor, good or bad, in any measurable sense.

Lastly, to the right is Ken Pomeroy’s current prediction for UD’s season. I gave it a triple-take, seems pretty spot on.



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