As some of you may have seen in today's paper or on our web site, Howard University has decided to dump head coach Keith Tucker after 26 seasons. While his dismissal was inevitable after several poor seasons, Tucker's tenure will be remembered most for that 1988 squad that advanced to the NCAA championship game. The Bison were absolutely devastating that autumn, an independent program that scored in every game but two and offered a fast-paced style that attracted big crowds to Greene Stadium.
Shaka Hislop was a freshman goalkeeper from Trinidad, already showing signs of future greatness. Peter Isaacs was the cocky, fleet-footed forward from Jamaica. There were the Williams brothers from Montgomery County and a band of unknown players from Nigeria and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Hislop SCORED the winning penalty kick in an NCAA tournament game, but the most memorable moment was the quarterfinal victory over Bruce Arena's top-ranked Virginia team. The Bison allowed an early goal, and then another, and when Drew Fallon of UVA stepped up to take a penalty kick, Howard's season was on the brink of ending. Hislop, though, made the save, sparking the Bison's comeback. It was 2-1 at the half, 2-2 by midway in the second half and after scoring in overtime against Tony Meola, Howard was on to the final four.
Howard has only been back to the NCAA tournament twice since, a sad decline for a proud program. We'll miss Keith Tucker, a man of few words but intense passion for the sport, and hope the athletic department chooses wisely when selecting a new coach.
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