Injuries Continue to Ravage the Bison
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 09:02
Two things remained the same for the Bison as Howard (4-18, 1-7 in the MEAC) fell to the Savannah State Tigers 52-42 on Saturday night at Burr Gymnasium. Injuries and scoring—or a lack thereof—have dismantled Howard’s season thus far and not much changed as a fiery second half comeback by the Tigers handed the blue and white their sixth consecutive loss.
Savannah State (12-9, 6-1) came into the game as the third ranked team in the MEAC but found themselves in a dogfight with the struggling Bison in the first half. Preston Blackman, who dropped 41 points against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, was contained well by the Bison defense which held him to two points in the first half.
Still reeling after losing senior point guard Calvin Thompson for the remainder of the season to a foot injury, Howard was getting solid production from sophomore guard Simuel Frazier. However, about half way through the first half Frazier became to fourth victim to the injury bug that’s ravaged the Bison roster this season. Frazier will miss three to six weeks with a grade two sprained hamstring.
With three point guards on the shelf with injury, sophomore Tre Lee did a decent job filling in in a position that he doesn’t necessarily have a lot of experience, facilitating the offense.
“Obviously we didn’t practice without a point guard. He [Frazier] was the only one on the roster and it [the injury] definitely changed the flow of the game,” said Bison head coach Kevin Nickelberry. “It affected what we did offensively, didn’t really affect us defensively but it affected what we were able to do on offense.”
Still, Howard led the majority of the second half as the effort, execution, and offense they have been searching for all season was on display. However, a scrappy Tigers team refused to be upset as Blackman drained a contested three pointer with 8:30 remaining to knot things up at 38-38. A six point lead had turned into a ten point deficit as the momentum disappeared almost as fast as the crowd did.
Blackman was too smooth and it made things tough for the Bison defense while forward Rashad Hassan began to flash the dominance that earned him preseason first team all-conference honors, throwing down two dunks to put an emphatic exclamation mark on their comeback. Blackman finished with 11 points and five assists while Hassan registered 25 points and seven rebounds coming off the bench.
“In this league you win with senior leadership and all-league type guys. He’s [Hassan] that,” said Nickelberry. “It takes one thing to make a difference and he was that one thing.”
Senior forward Mike Phillips added, “They found a spot in our zone and we weren’t rotating correctly. It means they got some easy buckets towards the end so it’s just an adjustment we should’ve made.”
Speaking to Phillips’ mother after the game, Nickelberry, who was ejected late in the contest for yelling in the referee’s face, shook his head with exhaustion and said that he has never been part of a team plagued this badly by injury in his career.