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on the HBCU front....

Florida Memorial needs a men's coach since Ansar Al-Ameen stepped down in February.

Allen needs a men's coach to replace Keith Walker who was sent packing right after the SIAC tournament

Sports Forum / Albany State Names Interim AD
« on: March 08, 2023, 10:38:16 PM »

Effective March 6, 2023, Robert Skinner, Head Coach for Women's Basketball, will be the Interim Athletics Director.

Coach Skinner steps into the interim role with more than 43 years as a successful coach and community leader.  In addition to coaching women's basketball at ASU, Coach Skinner has been the head women's volleyball, and softball coach.  He has established himself as a well-respected coach in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) and is a beloved member of the ASU family.

Skinner is a native of Paducah, Kentucky, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a minor in Athletic Coaching from Murray State University.


Savannah’s hospitality and infrastructure as a host city deservedly earn rave reviews. But will Savannahians support the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s basketball tournament?

The league’s tournament has been in town since Feb. 25. The atmosphere has been festive but the crowds sparse – kind of like walking down River Street five days before St. Patrick’s Day.

But for the SIAC, the weekend is coming. Monday-through-Friday workers are off. Students are closing their books. The home teams from Savannah State University will be in action Thursday. Win, and the men’s and women’s teams advance to Friday’s semifinals. Saturday, championships will be decided.

ESPN cameras will be rolling for their replay of the title games on Sunday. Will anyone be in the stands, and how has Savannah stacked up as a host to the league’s 15 schools?

“We’ve had very positive feedback,” SIAC commissioner Dr. Anthony Holloman said. “Games have been competitive and we’re  expecting great crowds on Friday and Saturday.”

Although he’s been commissioner for only six months, Holloman has a bead on the pulse of conference athletics. He was an athletic director at Fort Valley State University and was the chairman of the SIAC Athletic Directors Council  in 2021-22.

The last three years, the league basketball tournament was in Rock Hill, S.C., but the contract expired and Holloman wanted to look for a new venue.Savannah State’s willingness to host the tournament this season will bridge the event to its eventual long-term landing spot. And who knows? Savannah might just position itself to get that long-term deal.

“When I looked at locations on campuses, Savannah State was second to none,” Holloman said. “SSU president Kimberly Ballard-Washington and staff helped make this happen in short order. They have a great facility. (Savannah) is clearly a destination city and we think that will help drive interest in the tournament.”

But, nothing is a slam dunk.

“This was a deal to preserve the flexibility to make the best deal moving forward. … Clearly, we’ll be considering Savannah as a permanent home for the tournament, but we’ll look at all (interested) locations,” he continued.

Holloman said Memphis, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Macon have expressed desire to host the tournament. But the SIAC is dancing with Savannah right now. TIAA, Coca-Cola, Cricket Wireless and Home Depot are among the numerous sponsors onboard. And Savannah has numerous advantages.

“One thing that I had a perspective on when I was an athletic director in the conference, I knew the desire of the institutions in our league was to move (the basketball tournament) to a more central location,” Holloman said.

Savannah checks that box. Eight schools are within a four-hour drive.

“When you look at a basketball tournament, you not only want it to be a sporting event, but you want it to be an EVENT,” Holloman said. “You want people to come out even if they don’t have any affiliation with the league or the teams in the league because this is the place to be.”

Savannah checks that box too. St. Patrick’s day proves you don’t have to be Irish to wear green.

Holloman said he hopes to make his decision within 60 days.

“Going forward, I’ll be looking for a financial commitment from the municipality,” he said. “We’ll be a real boon wherever we go. We have 15 institutions, 29 teams – that’s a large league. We’ll drive revenue for (the new host) wherever we go.”

Sports Forum / Savannah State 2023 Football Schedule
« on: February 01, 2023, 07:48:30 AM »
09/02 at Southeastern
09/09 at Bethune-Cookman
09/23 at Albany State
10/07 at Fort Valley State
10/14 at Central State
11/04 at Lane

the administration needs to hire some fresh blood that can light a fire in the program with the players, alumni and fans to get them back on track to winning.

Sports Forum / Re: New SIAC Commissioner
« on: August 02, 2022, 02:41:53 PM »
according to the press release, the President of Allen was the chair of the search committee and the AD/head football coach from Tuskegee was a member of the search committee.

Sports Forum / Re: New SIAC Commissioner
« on: August 02, 2022, 10:52:55 AM »
they used a national search firm and this is the best they could come up with?
do you blame the search firm or the council of presidents?

Sports Forum / FVSU women's basketball coach takes Division I job
« on: July 11, 2022, 07:57:20 PM »

Chicago State Interim Director of Athletics Jessica Poole announced today that Andrea Williams has been named head coach of the Cougars women's basketball team. A 27-year coaching veteran across Division I, II and III women's basketball, Williams comes to CSU following three years of leading the Division II Fort Valley State Wildcats.

Sports Forum / Re: Lakers hire Darvin Ham as New head coach
« on: May 29, 2022, 09:19:21 PM »
Ham's brother played basketball at Savannah State back in the mind 1990s

hopefully the council of presidents will make the right choice in picking his replacement.


How Savannah State baseball team reversed years of losing to rise to top of SIAC

Nathan Dominitz
Savannah Morning News

For a baseball team that's playing together so exceptionally well, Savannah State players are allowed to have a difference of opinion.

The Tigers are 33-10, their most wins since 2013, and captured the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title last weekend with a 28-2 (.933) mark.

SSU is the top seed in the SIAC tournament this week in Albany, and opens at noon Thursday against eighth seed Tuskegee.

This is an SSU program that was 14-7 a year ago, 7-8 in the COVID-shortened 2019 season, and before that posted losing records of 27-plus defeats from 2014-18.

So when did the Tigers know 2022 was going to be so special?

When they lost their SIAC opener 17-13 to Kentucky State on Feb. 19, said starting third baseman Phil Woullard Jr. Call it an early wake-up call.

"I think after that it was special because it clicked for all of us as a team," said Woullard, a redshirt senior.

SSU blanked Kentucky State 11-0 in the second game of the doubleheader to start a run of 25 consecutive league wins.

"We just all picked it up and started holding each other more accountable and we started getting after it more, and we started being better all-around," Woullard said. "That's why I think it was the turning point for us."

Right-handed pitcher Enrico Peele, a redshirt junior and one of three starters who are a combined 29-3, pointed to a three-game series March 5-6 at Spring Hill in Mobile, Alabama.

"That was probably our first real test of the season," said Peele (11-2, 3.96 ERA), second in NCAA DII in victories. "It was a lot of hype coming into it. We knew coming into the SIAC, they've always been one of the top SIAC teams. That's when we really came together and did what we had to do to win that weekend."

SSU swept the three games to put some space between it and Spring Hill, which fought SSU down to the last weekend and finished the regular season 34-13, 23-4 (.852).

Left fielder Joe Smith had a different answer: April 22, when host SSU trailed Albany State 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Tigers' 7-8-9 batters in the lineup each singled, loading the bases for Smith.

That's a good plan. The leadoff batter, Smith now leads all of NCAA Division II with a .470 batting average. He also is 11th in the nation in slugging percentage (.832) and third in triples (nine).

Smith cleared the bases with a three-run double for a 6-5 victory over one of the Tigers' main threats for the SIAC crown.

"All of those guys got on base," said Smith, a redshirt junior. "We're a team that fights. That's when I knew."

All good choices for season-defining moments, but right-hander Jose Santiago came to a fourth conclusion. The redshirt sophomore is one of the many talented transfers who make up more than half of the Tigers' 38-player roster.

Santiago transferred this school year from Webber International in his native Florida and leads off the starting rotation. He's 9-0 with a team-best 77 strikeouts (tied for 65th nationally) and 3.25 ERA, while another transfer, RHP Jared Showalter from Paul D. Camp Community College in Virginia, is 9-1 as the third starter with a 2.49 ERA. 

"As a transfer, you had to make a little adaptation at the beginning, but that's what the fall's about," Santiago said of the team's fall practice schedule. "We come in here in the fall. We had some new faces, mingle a little bit. As the fall went on, we became a family."

He points to a specific moment during the "fall world series," a three-game intrasquad series for bragging rights to conclude the practice slate. Catcher Omar Almodovar ran down a runner on the third-base line for the series' final out.

But it wasn't only his team celebrating. Both sides leaped on top of him, like the scene at the end of more conventional championship games.

"Omar made a play, and everyone went crazy and dogpiled," Santiago, who was on the losing side. "It showed we're a true family in the fall, so I knew that this spring was going to be a crazy spring."

Crazy good, like team batting .343 (10th in DII) compared to .261 for opponents. Smith, a Brunswick native, is at the top with his .470 batting average, and straight nines on doubles, triples and home runs with 64 runs, 41 RBI, 22 walks and 20 strikeouts in 149 at-bats.

"I started off kind of slow the first 10 games," said Smith, who hit .405 in 14 games in 2021, his first in Savannah after transferring from Palm Beach Community College. "After that, it was kind of like beating me up. I took it upon myself to change my swing. I started looking at old videos when I was hitting. Then I changed that. Ever since then, I've been hot."
Forecast for SSU hitters: Hot

Also various degrees of hot are starters such as second baseman Champion Robbins (.399), shortstop Gabriel Patxot (.379), center fielder Dwayne Franklin (.349), designated hitter Calvin Rucker (.344), first baseman Andrai Wright (.327), right fielder Cameron Diaz (.322), third baseman Woullard (.311) and sometime starting outfielder Jaden Oden (.367).

Head coach Carlton Hardy rotates catchers Derek Rivera and Almodovar and has gone with the same lineup nearly all season. Redshirt-freshman infielder Desmore Joseph II (.326 in 46 at-bats) filled in when Woullard was out with an illness.

"Now we have a guy we believe can play every day in the SIAC that's one of our bench players and he's just waiting for his opportunity to get on the field," Hardy said of Joseph.

Hardy, who favors aggressive baserunning, starts with a game plan and lets the game flow impact changes. If the Tigers are hitting, which has frequently been the case, they won't run as often.
Starting pitching dominates for Tigers

As for the pitchers, the staff has an ERA of 4.28, to 8.88 for opponents. Hardy judges a quality start as six innings, three runs or fewer allowed. That's often been the case for Santiago, Peele and Showalter, leaving the bullpen well-rested.

"I tell the kids, the only thing I can do is dictate who's starting," Hardy said. "The game will dictate what changes will need to be made. Those three guys when they take the rubber, they're closers themselves."

Hardy, the head coach since 2006, calls himself "a process guy." He wants batters to work one pitch at a time, putting a good swing on the right pitch and focus on the process, not whether it was a hit.

Likewise, he's not taking a long view of a long season. The goal is to go 1-0. Then start over and go 1-0. That builds consistency.

"This year's team has come together, they're playing hard, they're happy, they're excited," Hardy said. "They're winning games in all types of ways. So it's a real good vibe here."

It hasn't been this good since 2013, when star right-hander Kyle McGowin (a future MLB pitcher) led then-DI SSU to a 33-23 record, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament crown and a berth in the NCAA regionals.

"This is one of the best groups," Hardy said of the 2022 squad. "All of the guys love each other. They're playing hard. They're receptive to the culture that we create here at Savannah State. We've got a good thing going."

When the going is this good, there's a lot of buying into the system. Players listen and follow through on instruction from Hardy and volunteer assistant coaches Paul Grubesic (pitching) and Robert Kraft (hitting). They're all about the team.

"They make my job easy," Hardy said from the dugout as his players practiced on a typically sunny, hot Savannah afternoon.

"As I look out on the field, I realize I don't have to physically be out there yelling and screaming and doing all these things because the guys understand the culture," he said. "This is the expectation at Savannah State. So they have a practice scheduled, they know what to do. Our assistant coaches do a great job of making sure the guys are held accountable, and the guys have that responsibility. They're following through on everything we're asking them to do."

Nathan Dominitz is the Sports Content Editor of the Savannah Morning News and Email him at Twitter: @NathanDominitz

Sports Forum / Basketball Coach Uses N-Word During Practice
« on: April 23, 2022, 09:34:20 PM »

Keith Bunkenburg, Benedictine’s Head Men’s Basketball coach, said the N-word to a Black player on his team during an open gym Tuesday.

“This is not a Black issue, it’s a Benedictine issue,” said Black Student Union President Keewaun Stokes.

The team lined up on the end line to stretch when Kevin Agwomoh, a men’s basketball player, walked in with his speaker on a low volume level. Coach Bunkenberg allegedly said to Kevin Agwomoh, ​​“I’m just not trying to hear the word n-—er and bitches.”

Words were exchanged and heated, Coach Bunkenburg allegedly said if he hears it in songs, he feels like he has the right to say it [n-word], according to Kevin Agwomoh.

Sports Forum / SIAC basketball
« on: March 23, 2022, 07:58:35 PM »

...Morehouse College will remove the interim tag from head coach Douglas Whittler. Whittler took over after the sudden passing of head coach Grady Brewer last spring. He led Morehouse to a 21-7 (15-2 SIAC) record this past season. More on this when it becomes official.

 Bonzi Wells is interviewing at Ball State. The former NBA player and Muncie, IN native is currently the head coach at D2 LeMoyne-Owen College. ...

Sports Forum / new Savannah sports reporter is a Grambling grad
« on: March 10, 2022, 06:40:22 PM »

Corey Howard joined WSAV Sports in January of 2022 and brought to the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry a true passion for sports. His goal each day is to share that passion for sports using his ability as a storyteller to inspire the community.

Before arriving in Savannah, Corey worked as a news/sports anchor for two years at the NBC affiliate in Alexandria, Louisiana. Corey joined the U.S. Army Reserves and specialized in military coverage. While working in Louisiana, Corey was honored with multiple statewide awards for breaking news reporting, community service and outstanding sports coverage. His favorite sports assignment so far — covering the 2019 National Championship watching the LSU Tigers beat Clemson.

Corey graduated from Grambling State in 2015 (B.A.), and then LSU in 2017 (M.A.). He’s a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and is always looking for new friends.

Email story ideas at or text me at 912-483-8896.

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