View from the Hilltop: Episode 4

Crucial games loom against Beltway schools

When players from the two most successful men’s basketball teams in the history of Howard University — the 1980-81 team and the 1986-87 team — returned to campus to be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, they talked about wanting the program to return to its past prominence.

This year’s team lost the first four games of the season — including defeats Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 to Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis and Gardner-Webb. Still, the players believe they’ll live up to preseason predictions of winning a league title. In the next month, the Bison face the four other Division 1 teams inside the Capital Beltway — Georgetown, American, Maryland and George Washington — in a test of both their strength this season and the school’s ability to compete for top players in the future. The team also will welcome the return of point guard James Daniel, the nation’s top scorer last year, who suffered a high ankle sprain before the start of the season and whose absence has been sorely felt in the box score.

While Daniel is a senior, Howard’s future at point guard is bright. R.J. Cole, a high school senior at the powerhouse St. Anthony in Jersey City, New Jersey, who verbally committed to play basketball at the school a month ago, recently signed his national letter of intent.