Photo by AUCCAM
The Maroon Tigers basketball team has had an interesting but otherwise great season so far. The team is 11-5 after their latest 68-65 victory over Benedict College, and is currently on a five game win streak.
Although their record has them ranked No. 2 in the East in the SIAC conference, head coach Grady Brewer feels like they are better than their record.
“We really expect to be 16-0 at this point,” coach Brewer said. “But things happen during the season that we didn’t expect.”
Some of those things include All-Conference players Tyrius Walker and Tyrone Brown not being on the court. Walker has been out the last 11 games for personal reasons and Brown has missed the last four outings. Robert Askew is another rotation player who missed the first seven games with an ankle injury.
With three of the top players from last season out at different points during the season, the Tigers looked elsewhere for someone to lead the team. That leader came in the form of Ayinde Russell, freshman guard from Atlanta, Ga.
Over the last six games, Russell has averaged 23 points per game while leading his team on a five game win streak. He’s averaging 14.5 points on the season and is leading the team in assists with 31. He’s 10th in the conference in scoring, 9th in 3pt made per game, and 5th in Free throw PCT.
“This is exactly how I envisioned my first season at Morehouse,” Russell said. “Because I believe through high school I always had the mentality for the next level which was college, and it’s showing. I came out of high school with a chip on my shoulder.”
Russell was named Newcomer of the Week on Jan 25, 2016. Russell is not the only Tiger to win weekly honors this season: Michael Hall was named Player of the Week and Anthony Farrar named Newcomer of the Week on Nov 30, 2015 and Brown was named player of the week Jan 18, 2016.
Russell has not had to carry the load by himself. Senior Center Robert Askew has been there to share the load with 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in the last nine matchups.
One big key for Morehouse’s success this season has been the defense as it has been better this year than it was last year.
A season ago, the Tigers were ranked No. 13 in steals, No. 7 in blocks, and No. 1 overall in scoring defense. This season they are currently No. 8 in steals, No. 4 in blocks, and No. 3 in scoring defense.
“Defense is a point of emphasis for us,” coach Brewer said. “We know that we can show up every night playing defense. Regardless whatever you do offensively, if they don’t score, we don’t lose, so that’s the mentality we created the last two years.”
This comes after the Tigers came up short last year in the tournament after losing a close game to the Benedict Tigers. Coach Brewer said he had one message for his team.
“Remember this feeling, you never want to feel like this again.”
After defeating the Benedict Tigers on February 2, 2016 coach Brewer feels this team has a good chance at a post season run.
“This team has the capability of winning a championship.”
The Tigers have four games left in the season and their next matchup is against Claflin University on Feb. 18th.