View from the Hilltop: Episode 9

‘We still believe we can win a championship’

When the Howard Bison returned to campus on Dec. 26 after a three-day Christmas break, the team came back loose and rejuvenated. The break was much-needed: The Bison staggered into Christmas with a 3-9 record.

There was hope for a better effort going into the Dec. 27 game against VCU. But the reality: The Bison were playing without its two projected point guards — James Daniel (sprained ankle) and Kai Tease (broken foot) — and without its top scorer, James Miller (broken hand), and starting forward Damon Collins (sprained ankle). Going against a VCU team that’s built its reputation on intense defensive pressure proved too much for the Bison.

Howard got 20 points from freshman shooting guard Charles Williams, who was playing his first college game in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Sophomore center Cameron Lewis scored a career-high 12 points and recorded a game-high six rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench. But while Lewis and Williams shot a combined 12-of-22 from the field, the rest of the team combined to hit just six of 28 shots.

Playing without a true point guard has been problematic for Howard. Without a guard who can penetrate and distribute, the team had just four assists for the fourth time this season. Howard also committed a season-high 21 turnovers.

While Williams has won the MEAC Rookie of the Week Award for two straight weeks, and has led the team in scoring in each of the last five games going into the Dec. 30 game at Harvard, the Bison will limp into the start of conference play next week.

“We still believe we can win a championship,” Coach Kevin Nickelberry said. “We just need to get some guys back healthy.”