March Madness begins Thursday night for the Grambling basketball teams at the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament at UAB’s Bartow Arena in Birmingham, with both squads hoping to play Cinderella.
In the 2021 Cricket Wireless SWAC Tournament women’s bracket, the No. 4 Lady Tigers (8-6 in conference action) tip at 5:30 against fifth-seeded Alabama A&M in a rematch of the last regular-season game, won by Grambling 72-68 last Saturday at the Frederick C. Hobdy Assembly Center. It was the only meeting this season.
Coach Freddie Murray’s squad advances to the semifinals with a win, hoping to play at 5:30 Friday evening against either regular-season champion Jackson State or No. 8 Mississippi Valley. The final is at 1:30 Saturday afternoon on ESPN3.
The fourth-seeded G-Men (9-6 in conference action) follow in the next game on opening day Thursday, optimistically scheduled to start at 7:30 against fifth-seeded Southern (8-6). They split the regular-season series, each winning close games on the road.
A win advances the Tigers to a Friday night 8:30 semifinal against either regular-season co-champion Prairie View or No. 8 Mississippi Valley. The championship game, Saturday at 5, will be televised on ESPNU.
All prior rounds in the tournaments will be available to watch through ESPN3.
When All-SWAC honors were announced, Grambling was represented on the men’s team by junior guard Cameron Christon, a second-team selection. No Lady Tigers made the 10-player all-conference list.
Tigers’ bench boss Donte’ Jackson has been included among 25 finalists for the CollegeInsider.com 2020-21 Skip Prosser Man of the Year award for Division I head coaches. The honor recognizes coaches who not only succeed on the scoreboard but who also “display moral integrity off the floor.”
Byron Smith of Prairie View and Jackson State’s Wayne Brent are other SWAC coaches on the list, which also includes Louisiana-Lafayette’s Bob Marlin and national figures like Texas Tech’s Chris Beard, Chris Holtmann of Ohio State and Leonard Hamilton of Florida State. No Southeastern Conference coaches are finalists.
FOOTBALL: As the Tigers prepare for Saturday’s neutral site contest in Arlington at Globe Life Park against Prairie View, coach Broderick Fobbs isn’t worried about a letdown after Saturday’s last-minute loss at home to Jackson State, when a lost fumble by sophomore Keilon Elder at the goalline denied the G-Men a winning touchdown.
It would have been Elder’s third TD of the afternoon, but instead it sealed a 33-28 loss. For Elder, it was especially bitter since he played football for new Jackson State coach Deion “Prime Time” Sanders at Prime Prep High School.
“There’s a relationship there. First game, overly excited, ready to go against your former coach … a lot went into this game for him. That kid is a tough, resilient kid. His dad and I were teammates here at Grambling,” said Fobbs.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that kid will shake back, as will our football team,” he said. “We’re battle tested, we’re mentally tough. When the sun rose Sunday morning, all that was left on Saturday.”
Fobbs said he and his staff learned a painful lesson while watching the Tigers struggle in the first half with penalties and missed assignments. In their first game since November 2019, he regretted using much motion, which triggered most of the flags and derailed the rhythm of the offense.
“It’s not necessarily what we do, it’s how we do it. You gotta be careful with your motions, with your adjustments. You want to be as vanilla as you can, that first game or two, because they’re already dealing with enough,” he said. “It’s far past football in those young minds.”
BASEBALL: Grambling (0-8) fell 10-0 Tuesday night at No. 2 Mississippi State, managing just two hits.
The Tigers continue the season-opening series of road games this weekend in Georgia, playing a three-game series against Florida A&M in the Ralph Garr-Bill Lucas HBCU Baseball Classic, presented by Truist, beginning Friday. The Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, the Gwinnett (Ga.) Stripers, will host the series at Coolray Field.
Photo: courtesy TayTapes870, GSUTigers.com