Sleeping With The Enemy: The Bison Of Howard

It's been awhile since we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON had any Hoya hoops related content to serve you, and since you've waited so patiently this week we're bringing you not just one but two servings of delectable Howard Bison. Special thanks to Howard alum and Washington Times Sports Columnist Deron Snyder and Ballin' is a Habit's own Troy Machir for providing answers to our hard-hitting questions. Gentlemen, this Casual Corona is for you. Away we go...

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How are the Bison this year? Who are the best scorers and rebounders?

Snyder:
The Bison are (still) who we thought they are. They're coming off a six-win season last year and haven't won more than nine games in a season since 2002-2003. But second-year coach Kevin Nickelberry is trying to turn it around. The Bison still have some brutal non-conference games remaining (G'town, Kansas, Kansas State, Indiana, Oregon State), but they won their MEAC opener on Tuesday, which is a good sign. HU is led by Jr G Calvin Thompson (11.3 ppg) and Jr. F Mike Phillips (7.5 rpg).

Machir:
The Bison are a decent MEAC at best, so I think we know what that means in terms of where they stand in the college basketball universe. But they do have some athletes with size and length. Four players who log significant minutes stand 6-foot-5 or taller, so they should be able to hang with the Hoyas in terms of physicality for at least half of a half. Sophomore Alphonso Leary stands 6-foot-11 and has some good length, is an aggressive rebounder and has a nice touch around the rim. Mike Phillips is a 6-foot-6 do-it-all forward who can post-up or handle the ball. Calvin Johnson, the team's leading scorer, sat out the last game with an injury, but his background should be somewhat familiar with Hoya fans. He graduated from Helen Cox HS in Louisiana and chose to attend Howard because he wanted to be close to former-Hoya Greg Monroe, who was his best friend in HS. They also got a kid named Dadrian Collins who comes off the bench. He's 6-foot-6 and went to Montrose Christian. He's not as polished as Phillips, but he has some range to his shot and is an aggressive defender.

More fun with Howard after The Jump:

Any freshmen you guys are particularly excited about?

Snyder:
Howard's freshman class got some national attention when 6-5 wing Prince Okoroh (Greenbelt, MD) signed a few days before winning MVP at the prelim of the Capital Classic. Another touted freshman is 5-11 PG Simuel Frazier, but the Hoyas won't face two other promising newcomers, transfers Glen Andrews (Tulsa) and Tre Lee (Coastal Carolina), as they're ineligible until later this month. Otherwise... (yeah, right).

Machir:
Say it with me, Prince Okoroh. Yeah, I'm not sure what a guy with that name is doing on a basketball court, but this kid has some legitimate skills. He's athletic, has a nice outside game, and has a variety of moves to go to. The problem is, while he is 6-foot-6, he's a small forward, and the match-ups for him will be tough. Hollis Thompson has way too much length, and Otto Porter is too big for him. Outside of the Prince, the freshman class is limited. 6-foo-9 Oliver Nelson is a DC-native and attended Gonzaga CHS, but is still pretty raw. During lay-up lines at half-time of the team's last game, he tripped over his own feet pretty badly, and ate it in front of the entire crowd. Howard takes their halftimes very seriously, so there were a lot of eyes on him. Laughter ensued until the start of the second half.

Tell us about the Homecoming at Howard? We have heard a lot about it in various rap songs, but never experienced in person.

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Homecoming at Howard. via www.howard.edu

Snyder:
The Bison won the game for just the second time in six years, but Homecoming is a week-long event in which the game is a side note - if that. Besides the concerts, comedy shows, fashion shows, step shows, parties, after-parties and the "come-one-come-all" international yardfest, there's nothing much to mention.

Machir:
The only thing I know about Howard Homecoming is what they tell me on 93.9. Something about some guy named Antonio the Cuban Cigar Smoker. Probably lots of Mambo Sauce.

What's your favorite hidden gem bar in Washington, DC? What about hidden gem restaurant?

Snyder:
Busboys and Poets on 14th and V NW is one of my favorite spots, way cooler than the later versions in NE and Hyattsville (haven't been to the one in Shirlington).

Machir:
Best hidden gem bar in Washington? Well, I'd go with The George, but I think you have to be on the list just to mention it's name, So I'll go with Dodge City. I've only been there once, which was last Saturday, and I got blackout drunk, so I can't tell you where exactly it is, but it seemed like fun. Their double Jack-n-Cokes get the job done, and although it was literally pitch-black, I do remember seeing some rather attractive patrons. Some quick hitters: If you are trying to get drunk quickly and for no money at all, visit Dan's Cafe. Jack Rose has a ridiculous liquor selection, U Street Music Hall is a solid place for house music and designer drugs, and if you don't care about political affiliations or trust funds, or talking about where you went to high school, the women are usually pretty hot at Smith Point. As for best hidden gem restaurant, gotta be Tonic in Foggy Bottom. They serve pulled pork IN their mac-n-cheese.I didn't even know you were allowed to do that! It's remarkable. Plus, they serve tater tots. After reading this entire answer, it should become abundantly clear that I've never attended Homecoming at Howard.

What is the best case scenario for Howard this year? What is the worst case scenario? We assume you are closer to worst case scenario considering the 2-5 start.

Snyder:
Best-case is a competitive showing in the MEAC, which means winning more games than it loses (the bar is low). Worst case is winning just six games for the second season, but the Bison are in good shape to surpass that, already halfway there.

Machir:
Best case scenario: Run the tables in the MEAC tournament, knock off Hampton or Norfolk State in the tournament finals, then lose to Kentucky by 150 in the 1/16 game. Worst case scenario: Lose every remaining game on the schedule, which should be difficult to do considering they play in the MEAC.

I am a high school senior looking to go to school in Washington, DC. Why should I choose Howard over American or Catholic?

Snyder:
Because Howard is "The Mecca." If you want the experience of attending a HBCU - a Historically Black College and University - it's the cream of the crop.

Machir:
The only reason you would attend Catholic is if your parents are devout Catholics and have made decision for you in your entire life, American is a good school, but it just seems so boring. So why should you attend Howard? Have you ever been to Homecoming at Howard? Me neither, but I've heard it's off the chain.

What are your feelings on Georgetown? The school and the basketball program?

Snyder:
I grew up in Brooklyn and started following the Hoyas as a kid, way back when Sleepy Floyd was the star. Been a fan ever since, largely because of John Thompson's cultural impact. I know the school has a fantastic reputation and costs a small fortune to attend.

Machir:
I love Georgetown Basketball. Always have always will. Sure, I was the only member of my extended family not to attend the Hilltop. Well, my brother didn't go either, but he went to Columbia, so, yeah..... Anyways, I spent a rather large chunk of my childhood at the Capitol Centre, which is, to this day, the greatest arena in America, maybe even the World. Speaking of the Capitol Centre, what ever happened to Saint Leo's? But seriously, there are not many things I love more in this world than Georgetown basketball. I want Dr. Vincent Kelly to sing at my wedding, and I want Father McFadden to lead the service. Rich Chvotkin will be the MC of the reception.

But as for the University, ehh, I don't really have an opinion one way or another. I went to a couple college parties there and I couldn't help feel like none, AND I MEAN NONE of the guys would stand a chance in a fight at all. Not even a donnybrook, nor a melee, scrap, tussle or fisticuffs. Maybe horseplay, but that's it. I mean, maybe I was at the wrong function, but does everybody at GU look like Michael Cera? The quality of women could be better too. Much better. Black spandex pants and leather boots don't make you attractive. I know that's what the magazines tell you, but trust me, they're lying.

What is your prediction for this game? What is the final score?

Snyder:
The Hoyas should win easily by around 30 points or so. HU is simply not in the same class (duh). Let's say 75-48.

Machir:
The Bison are a hard-working team. Coach Nickelberry has them working as a solid unit. They play aggressive defense, they love to press, and they crash the boards hard. Unfortunately, they aren't the best outside shooters, nor do they have one particular deep threat. Georgetown should win by about as many as they beat Savannah State by.

The problem with Howard, aside from the obvious lack of talent and size compared to Georgetown, is the team's over-aggressiveness. It will be interesting to see if Coach Nickelberry dials them back because they tend to double-team very quickly, which can lead to easy skip-passes and high-percentage shots. Like I said, this team will press a lot, and they will guard ball-handlers 24 feet away from the basket. But despite this aggressiveness, their defense is somewhat porous. I think this would be a good game to give some significant minutes to Tyler Adams. Howard does not have anybody as big or as strong as him, and if the Hoya guards can force early double-teams, Adams will be dunking for days.

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