by Mike Potter
LeVelle Moton will be a head coach in a college basketball game in his Raleigh hometown for the first time this afternoon, and knows his N.C. Central team won't be favored.
The Eagles (4-18) will take on N.C. State (13-8) in a game that is going to be played at the RBC Center despite the snow that has paralyzed much of the state.
NCCU has visited the Wolfpack each of the past two seasons - the only other team the Eagles have played each of the past three seasons is Colgate - and although the team under Henry Dickerson at the time kept things respectable but didn't keep the games close.
The Wolfpack won 87-59 last season and 54-29 in 2008.
Both NCCU teams are on the road today, as Joli Robinson's women's team will be looking for a season sweep at Savannah State.
Moton, said he's looking forward to at least getting some fan support with a nearby road game.
"It should be nice," Moton said at a press conference on Friday at McDougald-McLendon Gym. "It's pretty much a homecoming for myself. We have some guys on the squad in Nick Chasten and Clee Sherrod and Dijon Manns making a homecoming too and I hope people will come out to support them."
"I love Sid (Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe.) Sid is a great guy. When I was nine years old (in 1983) they won the national championship. It was my first year joining the Raleigh Boys' and Girls' Club and they gave out these big posters with him and Thurl Bailey and Dereck Whittenburg holding the trophy. He signed my poster and I still have it. We talk all the time. He has his program heading in the right direction. We're definitely heading in the right direction."
'I think this series is good for the area and our fans and their fans. They're a tricky team. One night they can beat you outside, and then they have an animal down on the block in Tracy (Smith). I actually used to train Tracy before I got the job here. We don't stop him. We can only try to hope to contain him and push him as far away from the basket as we possibly can. Then they've got (Dennis) Horner and the freshman (Scott) Wood has hit some big shots. Javier Gonzalez and (Farnold) Degand - they have all their pieces in place and it seems like they're playing with confidence after they beat Duke."
Moton said that even though his team has yet to win on the road or against a Division I opponent, he is pleased with a lot of what he has seen.
"I'm extremely proud of our guys," Moton said. "We had a team meeting the other day and pretty much let it all hang out. We all came to the conclusion we're competing and there's been a progression in the program, and unfortunately with the situation we're in right now it's not showing up in the win column. We're still working.
"I spoke with (Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski) about three weeks ago and he gave me some sound advice. He told me there are three things I need to learn and the program needs to learn. The guys have got to learn how to fight consistently night-in and night-out, how to compete night-in and night-out consistently, and third - which is probably going to be the toughest thing - we have to learn how to win.
"We've been in some close games, but the reality is in the past several years, we haven't shot a free throw that was meaningful on the road with the opposing team's fans hollering in your ear. We were in that situation at Savannah State and didn't come through."
N.C. Central at N.C. State
[Saturday, 2 p.m., RBC Center]
NCSU leads series 2-0.
Records: NCCU 4-18, NCSU 13-8.
Audio: WRJD-AM 1410, WRAL-FM 101.5, GoPack.com, NCCUEaglePride.com.
Coaches' records - NCCU: LeVelle Moton 4-18; NCSU: Sidney Lowe 64-54.
Leading scorer - NCCU: C.J. Wilkerson 15.6; NCSU: Tracy Smith 17.4.
Leading rebounder - NCCU: Nick Chasten 6.1; NCSU: Tracy Smith 8.5.
Assist leader - NCCU: Michael Glasker 5.1; NCSU: Javier Gonzalez 4.3.
N.C. Central at Savannah State
[Saturday, 2 p.m., Tiger Arena, Savannah State]
SSU leads series 5-3.
Records: NCCU 6-13, SSU 8-16.
Audio: WRJD-AM 1410, NCCUEaglePride.com.
Coaches' records - NCCU: Joli Robinson 203-185; SSU: Cedric Baker 365-334, 59-136 at SSU.
Leading scorers - NCCU: Joanna Miller 18.9; SSU: Crissa Jackson 10.0.
Leading rebounders - NCCU: Latoya Bennett 7.5; SSU: Alisha Nelson 7.8.
Assist leaders - NCCU: Danielle DeBerry 3.3; SSU: Crissa Jackson 3.7.