Coach: Frankie Allen (47-70 in four seasons at Howard, 218-271 overall).

Last season: 6-22, 4-14 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

On paper, a 6-22 record might not look like much of an accomplishment. But for Howard, it was a world of progress. The Bison lost 13 games by seven points or less, including six defeats on the final possession. Clearly, they continue to make progress under Allen, who inherited a program that won only four games in the previous three seasons combined -- with three different coaches -- before he arrived in 2000.

If the Bison are going to continue to make strides, they'll need sophomore transfer Cliffone Ault to lead them. Ault was one of the top players in New York as a senior at Erasmus Hall High in Brooklyn in 2000. He was one of the city's top scorers, averaging 32 points, more than future Connecticut stars Taliek Brown and Ben Gordon, N.C. State all-American Julius Hodge and Omar Cook, who played one season at St. John's before bolting for the NBA.

Ault was recruited by Clemson, Manhattan and Nevada-Las Vegas out of high school, but failed to qualify academically and spent part of the past four years playing at Chipola College in Florida and Neosho County Community College in Kansas.

With the addition of Ault, and the losses of top front-court players James Wilkinson and Seye Aluko, Allen hopes to play a more up-tempo style this season. The Bison have a solid back court with junior Louis Ford, the top point guard in the MEAC, and sophomores Darek "Skip" Mitchell and Will Gant. Gant was hurt for much of last season; Mitchell averaged 17.3 points in his final six games last season.

Allen is counting on junior center Daniel Wright and two newcomers -- freshman Sidney Nickleson and junior college transfer James McBryde -- to bolster the front court.