After an impressive season-opening win against Oregon State, Howard has been on a six-game skid. The Bison (1-6) aren’t winning because they aren’t scoring. Howard has the third-worst scoring offense in Division I, ranking 328th out of 330 teams with an average of 49.7 points per game. The Bison haven’t scored more than 46 points in their last two games.
Senior guard Eugene Myatt leads the team in scoring (12 ppg), but he isn’t getting much help. No other player averages in double figures.
In an effort to generate more offense, Howard Coach Gil Jackson has tried a variety of starting lineups to no avail. Only Myatt and junior center Paul Kirkpatrick have started every game.
“I’m playing both freshmen [guards] now,” Jackson said of Chris McHenry and Calvin Thompson. “Chris can score, so Calvin will handle the ball more, and we’ll try to get some scoring punch out of Chris to help Gene [Myatt] out.”
Jackson said junior forward Kandi Mukole seems to be breaking out of his slump. Mukole started four of seven games, going 7 of 24 from the floor (29.2 percent). As his misses started to pile up, Mukole pressed even more to try to get his shot to fall through the net.
“He’s a very self-conscious kid, very sensitive kid,” Jackson said. “I’m trying to relax him as best I can. He’s shooting the ball better in practice, so I’m hoping that that will transfer to the games.”
Two trips to the West Coast loom. Howard plays at Oregon State on Saturday then at Portland on Monday. The Bison return home for the holidays before heading to Utah State at the end of the month for its three-day tournament.
“That’s not going to be a staple for our schedule,” Jackson said of playing out west.
Howard beat Oregon State, 47-45, for the Bison’s only win this season, which may give them confidence going into the game. But the Beavers will be looking to avenge the loss.
“I know they’re going to be up to play us,” Jackson said. “They’re playing better. They’re shooting the ball better. It’s going to be tough. I think the one thing about playing them now is their students may be away.”
Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson, a two-time Ivy League player of the year when he was at Princeton, has the Beavers running the Princeton offense. Few coaches are more adept at defending that system than Jackson, who spent 16 years at Penn – Princeton’s main rival – before coming to Howard.
“We’re familiar with it,” he said. “I thought that helped us the first time we played them.”
December 18, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
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