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Messages - wsm

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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.

Sports Forum / LC Cole back in the SIAC
« on: March 09, 2022, 07:51:38 PM »

Allen (D-II - SC): LC Cole has accepted the defensive coordinator job at Allen. Cole, the former head coach at places like Tennessee State and Alabama State, spent the last several years as a high school coach in Alabama, most recently at Park Crossing HS (AL).

Sports Forum / Re: Top Five D2 HBCU Basketball Women’s Programs
« on: February 13, 2022, 06:29:22 PM »
since SSU rejoined the SIAC, Benedict and Tuskegee have been a thorn in our sides

Sports Forum / NCAA DII postseason bracket leaves out Savannah State
« on: November 14, 2021, 09:21:16 PM »

NCAA DII postseason bracket leaves out Savannah State, jumped in rankings by Lenoir-Rhyne

Nathan Dominitz
Savannah Morning News

The Savannah State football team's season is over after the Tigers, with one of their best records in years, were left out of the NCAA Division II postseason on Sunday.

The Tigers came into the weekend ranked No. 8 in Super Region Two, with the top seven teams in each of the four regions nationally advancing to the playoffs for 28 berths total. SSU was idle this weekend after 10 straight weeks of games, but hoped the 8-2 overall record and 5-1 mark in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was impressive enough for the top seven.

Mars Hill, No. 6 in the most recent region ranking, fell to 8-3 with a 26-19 loss to Wingate on Saturday, likely creating an opening in the top seven.

When the NCAA DII selection show Sunday revealed the region's bracket, previous No. 9 Lenoir-Rhyne (8-2) was the new seventh seed.

"Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, (but) I'm not on the committee," Quinn said. "The biggest thing is I think we had a good enough resume at 8-2. We were an 8-2 team ahead of Lenoir-Rhyne and then they picked the 8-2 Lenoir-Rhyne team over us that was behind us in the rankings.

"I'm grateful for the year we had. I'm disappointed we didn't get in. I think we should have been in. I'm sure there are a bunch of other coaches that feel the same way I do."

Savannah State held a watch party for the 5 p.m. Sunday selection show with players, coaches, staff and families. Quinn said everyone was excited and having a good time until the bracket was revealed.

"It was a lot of fun up until the announcement, then it was like a funeral at that point," he said.

He thanked the seniors for their contributions of the past, and then talked with the underclassmen about the program's future. But this season also must have been dissected in discussions.

Lenoir-Rhyne has won six straight games, and has wins over Mars Hill 31-16 and Wingate 31-6. The losses were at current No. 6 seed Newberry, a 9-2 team, 28-21; and at UVA Wise, a 5-6 team, 35-28.

Quinn credited Lenoir-Rhyne for successfully campaigning to make the DII playoffs.

"They've got a good reputation. We're an up-and-comer," he said. "The committee said our league (SIAC) is not as worthy as the SAC 8 (South Atlantic Conference) is to be in the playoffs."

Savannah State's two losses were in the season opener at No. 1 seed Valdosta State, a 9-1 team, 53-7; and at No. 4 seed Albany State, a 10-1 team, 30-0 on Oct. 23.

"Obviously, our losses were factored heavier than our wins were," Quinn said.

Albany State went on to win the East Division ahead of SSU and a berth in the league championship game Saturday, when it beat Miles 31-0. 

Valdosta State (9-1), which was No. 2 in the most recent AFCA coaches national poll, earned the bye as the region's top seed despite losing Saturday at West Florida. No. 2 Bowie State (10-1) will host Lenoir-Rhyne (8-2); and No. 3 and defending national champion West Florida (9-1) will host Newberry (9-2). VSU will host the winner of 2 vs. 7 on Nov. 27.

Newberry and Lenoir-Rhyne represent the South Atlantic Conference, Albany State the SIAC.

"Obviously, our league is not held in high enough regard yet," Quinn said. "We had some other good wins. For whatever reason, those weren't taken into consideration. We weren't given the opportunity to get into the playoffs, so obviously (we're) disappointed. I'm new to this process, our team is. We've got to find a way to win nine or 10 games instead of eight to make sure we get in this time next year."

Now Savannah State is in the conversation when the committee meets each week to rank the region's teams.

"It's baby steps," Quinn said. "I'm not big on moral victories. You're either in or out. We're outside looking in, so that's bittersweet. I felt like we have a good enough football team that we can compete with anybody if we played well. Obviously, in our two losses we played poorly. We needed to win the Albany State game to get in."

Playing Valdosta State, a perennial power and one of the top teams in the national rankings all season, toughened SSU's strength of schedule. Quinn said an in-state opponent from a powerful conference like the Gulf South is a better strategy than scheduling an FCS program, as zero consideration is given to by the committee to games outside of DII.

"We played the best team (Valdosta) in America according to everybody; we picked the hardest one," Quinn said. "We've got to be smart in who we schedule. We've got to play those guys in the regular season or playoffs at some point — them and West Florida and West Georgia."

Quinn also has long argued that the SIAC allow teams to play an 11-game schedule, giving all of them one more chance to add a victory.

SSU has felt on the other side of SIAC decisions such as in 2019, when it went 7-3 overall and 5-0 in the league to win the East Division but did not play for the SIAC title. League members had voted before the season that because SSU was transitioning to DII and not eligible for the playoffs, should it happen to win the division, another team would represent the East.

The SIAC canceled the 2020 fall sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic when SSU figured to have a strong team returning.   

"The biggest thing we've got to do is win," Quinn said. "The other stuff is out of our hands. Obviously, it's been disappointing the decisions over the last couple of years that went against us. I give our guys credit. Our team's been competing and finding a way to win.

"We've got to just keep winning and force it where people can't keep us out of things. For the committee to not pick us, that was their decision. We've just got to come back with a better body of work next time. We've also got to know how to work our end of it to make sure we're highlighted and we're in the forefront of people's minds to be selected like some other schools were."

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

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