Photo courtesy of Dave’s Joint.
By David Cordova
At the present moment in time, the value of HBCU’s (historically black colleges and universities) is rising. With many of our black colleges, there is a certain sense of pride by attending one of those institutions. You learn about black history, and you learn about black culture, essentially what it means to be an African-American.
One of those esteemed places of higher learning is Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Beginning in 1867, when they were formed as the Augusta Institute and then given its current name in 1913, Morehouse has been a prestigious institution for males of color and has produced plenty of successful graduates including the legendary activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., actors such as Brian Tyree Henry, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, the late Bill Nunn, John David Washington, the late rapper Guru, Def Jam vice president Shakir Stewart, former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson and many more.
As far as athletes, they have had only one NBA player in its history, Harold Ellis, who played for multiple teams in the 1990’s such as the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets. He also played in various countries and in the minor leagues and then went on to coach in the WBA and spent one season on the coaching staff of the Detroit Pistons and scouted with them for three seasons.
During the season, the Maroon Tigers play in the SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), where they play against other HBCU schools such as Benedict College, Tuskegee University, Miles College, Albany State University, Savannah State University, and lastly, their neighbors from next door, Clark Atlanta University, a co-ed university that is a part of the Atlanta University Center, which includes the all-female Spelman College, the sister school of Morehouse.
This season, the Maroon Tigers will be starting the dawn of a new era under a new coach. On May 29th, longtime head coach Grady Brewer passed away of an illness at the age of 63. A 1980 graduate of the school, Coach Brewer was the head coach of the school from 2000 until this past season. During his tenure, he compiled a record of 315-241 and led the program to seven 20-win seasons, a SIAC Tournament title and three NCAA Division II Tournament appearances.
Replacing the departed Brewer is the former associate head coach, Douglas Whittler, who has been a part of the coaching staff for the last six seasons and is also an alumnus of Morehouse himself, graduating in 2005. Also on the coaching staff are assistants Martavious Little and Harold Clay, along with the new associate head coach, Alfred Jordan, who previously was an assistant at Clark Atlanta and on the Division I level with Arkansas-Little Rock under current head coach and former NBA player Darrell Walker.
Walking into Morehouse’s gym, Forbes Arena, is like walking into a great basketball cathedral, which has a great level of significance. During the summer of 1996, it was used as one of the sites for that year’s Olympic Games in Atlanta. It’s a place that seats 6,000 spectators and gets to rocking, especially when there’s a big game taking place.
This season, the Maroon Tigers have a roster in which a vast majority of players are transfers from other schools, many of them on the Division I level or on the JUCO level. On the roster are new players such as sophomore guards Elijah Stewart and Andrew Stewart (Clark Atlanta), sophomore guard Tavares Oliver, Jr. (Mott Community College), redshirt junior forward Horace Wyatt, Jr. (Arkansas-Little Rock), senior forward Kerry Richardson (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) and Kalin Bennett (Kent State).
The experienced players on the roster are juniors such as forward Xavier Brewer, guard Malik Kennedy, guard Jordan Sterling and center Olisa Akonobi.
This fall, the Maroon Tigers played in three exhibitions against Division I schools: the first was against their crosstown counterparts on Oct. 31st (Halloween), then against the University of Georgia on Nov. 5th and then on Nov. 9th in Cambridge, Massachusetts against Harvard. Although they lost, those games were played to get them ready for their season against their Division II counterparts.
Since then, they have gone 1-1 to start their season, losing 77-66 to Columbus State on the road this past Monday, Nov. 15th and then winning against Young Harris College yesterday, Nov. 17th, also on the road, by the score of 79-72.
Next week, the Maroon Tigers will be playing in the Chris Paul HBCU Tip-Off at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut to play against Winston-Salem State University on Monday and against the winner of the Virginia Union-West Virginia State game on Tuesday.
On Saturday, Nov. 27th, they will begin their conference season against Miles College, who played Kentucky, rated the No. 13 team nationally in the Associated Press poll closely, only losing by several points.
Then the following weekend of Dec. 4-5, they will be hosting the McAfee-Brewer Memorial Classic at Forbes Arena, where they will be playing Young Harris and also Fisk University.
All in all, it’s a new season and a new dawn for the Morehouse Maroon Tigers. Under Coach Whittler, this squad is ready to ball out this season and they plan to achieve all of their goals this season, which are winning the SIAC championship, clinching a berth for the NCAA Tournament and lastly, dedicating this season to the late Coach Brewer.