Everybody loves a good comeback story, and very few tales of redemption and perseverance come harder than that of Todd Bozeman and his Morgan State University men’s basketball team.
Here are just a few snippets of the media blushing orange and blue, just hours before the 15th-seeded Bears tip off against #2 seed West Virginia in Buffalo.
Loyal Bozeman Rebuilds Morgan State and His Reputation – New York Times
He can leave for greener pastures or he can stay put and become a folk hero for the historically black colleges and universities — a latter-day Big House Gaines, the coach at Winston-Salem State for 47 years, or John McLendon, the longtime college and professional coach.
Bozeman could turn a small program into an attractive niche as Mark Few has done at Gonzaga or Eddie Robinson did at Grambling in football. That niche is taking diamonds in the rough, players with intangibles, who relish fighting through life’s picks and screens.
At an idealistic level, Bozeman said, he would love to stay. At a university politics level, he said, the going has not been as smooth as outsiders might imagine.
“The tough part is the battles you fight that are within that people are not aware that you’re fighting,” he said. “I always believed an H.B.C.U. could become a national power, but you fight the backbiting, the people who take advantage of their authority, the people who abuse their authority, the people who don’t like to see you successful.”
Morgan State Wants to Win ’4′ Sick Teammate - NCAA FanHouse
On the list of motivations for Morgan State in the NCAA tournament’s East Regional, Todd Bozeman’s redemption isn’t even within shouting distance of the No. 4 on his players’ jerseys.
That number was to be worn this season by redshirt freshman forward Anthony Anderson until, as the coach of the 15th-seeded Bears recalled Thursday, Anderson came to practice the day after Midnight Madness last October and said that he didn’t feel well.
By that evening, he was in Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins hospital, diagnosed with leukemia. Anderson has spent most of the time since then in the hospital, and to the disappointment of Bozeman and his teammates, will still be hospitalized Friday when Morgan State (27-9) plays second-seeded West Virginia at HSBC Arena.
Thus, the Morgan State jerseys have sported Anderson’s No. 4 all season and will have it Friday, as a way to have him with them in spirit, said senior guard Reggie Holmes, because “we were thinking about him not being here physically.”
Morgan State Takes the Stage – The Buffalo News
Fifteenth-seeded Morgan State batted lead-off at the podium this morning and declared itself ready to match West Virginia’s physical style of play. It’s the hope of head coach Todd Bozeman that if the Mountaineers are allowed to pound, the Bears receive the same courtesy from the officials.
“They will wear you down,” Bozeman said. “They will beat you up, so to speak. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but they’re a tough team. They’re a tough-minded team. . . . The nation doesn’t know how physical Morgan State is. Our conference (the MEAC), they treat us like that and they say we’re physical. So if the officials look at it and they’re going to say, ‘Well, both team are physical, we’re going to let it go,’ fine. They might say, ‘West Virginia, we already know you’re physical. Morgan, you can’t play physical like that. That’s a difference. So that’s a point of emphasis for sure.”