Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Gerald Glover was the last man out of the Howard locker room tonight after the Bison had opened this MEAC tournament with a crackling 91-79 victory over host North Carolina A&T.
Glover was not bent double beside his locker, worn out from the exhaustion of getting more points (26) and more rebounds (11) than anyone on the floor. The 6-foot-7 junior forward had long since regained his breath after leading the spirited 20-2 Howard burst that split the game open in the middle of the second half.
Glover was the last man out the stage door at Greensboro Coliseum because he had to get his hair, his muted-orange three-piece suit and his deep maroon driving gloves adjusted just right.
"No, I don't have a car," he grinned sheepishly, looking at the Glover gloves, "but the girls like 'em anyway."
Glover has always believed in a bit of high style, sometimes to the detriment of his total basketball skills. Like so many swift, lean young leapers, accustomed to hearing that he could do it all, Glover liked to make the court his canvas.
But tonight it was not the spectacular "Dr. G." - Howard fans' predictable nickname for Glover - who ended A&T's miserable 3-24 season here in its own backyard. Instead, it was a newly team-consious gentleman - Captain Glover - who fulfilled his roll as Bison fulcrum almost inconspicuously.
Certainly Glover had his moments of solo glory. Once he intercepted an outlet pass and then dribbled behind his back as he wove around the last defender and slam-dunked. The 3,731 fans in the house, few of them lovers of Bison, became very still.
And there were the bobbing fakes in the lane that led to 10 foul shots and helped immerse the Aggies in gross front court foul trouble. There were also several quick jumpers and finally a floating bank shot off a fast break at the height of Howard's spurt that turned a 54-51 deficit into a 71-56 lead.
But basically Glover just tried "to keep everybody satisfied. Say an encouraging word, pat a guy on the back."
Howard, its record now 17.9 had other soldiers who were decorated for valor tonight. Without John Smith's 11 rebounds, David Whitehead's 16 points from outside and Mike Nettles' 15 underneath, Howard would not be meeting North Carolina Central in a semifinal at 9 Friday night.
At crucial moments Howard had the right man for whatever the problem. When A&T built its biggest lead, 29-22, point guard Gerald Gaskins (coach A. B. Williamson's alter ego) took it on himself to score six quick points and steady the ship.
"Sometimes we lose our sense of the game," said Gaskins. "We don't have the team court presence that coach Williamson's old Eastern (High) teams had. I have to change the tempo when we seem to be drifting into the other club's style."
But in the early part of the second half, nothing so subtle was needed. A&T's Elsworth Turner (22 points) was driving the lane time and again and someone was needed to bang a few heads and take names for future reference.
Frosh forward Mike Pressley did nicely "bouncing people and talking to a few of their guys," according to Williamson.
One Aggie who certainly needed a talking to was 6-9 soph L.J. Pipkin. Five Bison big men took turns following him out to 20-foot range then watching as he faked them flat-footed and fired at will. "Boy, can he shoot," said Howard's Smith. "You don't know which way he's going. We all took a whack at him."
Eventually, fouls and exhaustion held Pipkin to 23 points, 15 at the half. Lucky for Howard, Pipkin was almost as much a defensive pigeon as he was an offensive eagle.
Howard beat Williamson's old alma mater for the third time this year primarily because of its superior inside game. And Pipkin sure helped Howard there by getting constantly picked off as the 17-9 Bison worked the ball underneath continually, setting up A&T fouls and cheap hoops.
In an earlier game, Delaware State, a 2-25 ballclub that has often had to show-up for games with only five players played far, far over their heads in losing to North Carolina Central, 66-65. Ex-Howard coach Marshall Emergy, in his first year at Delaware State seemed shocked but delighted that his outmanned little team with four football players on the bench for "window dressing" could save a bit of face.