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Keeping Our Focus On The Delta Devils

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Let’s keep the focus on the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils. The 18-15 Devils are on a 9 game winning streak. It’s their fourth trip to the Big Dance and they are going to be looking for their first win.

Needless to say coach James Green is more than a little excited. From the Greenwood Commonwealth (local paper in Mississippi):

"Obviously the odds are highly against you in that situation, but we can go back and draw from some of the positive things we did against some tough non-conference teams," Green said. "First, I want to make sure our guys have fun and let the basketball part take care of itself on the floor.

"Our team has some a long way this season after a tough start. I appreciate the ride these guys have taken me on and now they get to take me on one more. I am so excited for these kids and what this means to our fans and our program."
Brian Dohn dug up a lot of info on the Devils, which he posted in his report today. He gives us a picture of a " well-coached, highly-disciplined, overachieving, deliberate veteran team," that should make any one thinking about any other team except for these guys, think twice. From the Daily News:
Opposing coaches from the conference paint a tableau of a well-coached, highly-disciplined, overachieving, deliberate veteran team that is playing its best basketball.

Cox, a 6-foot-10 senior center [Larry Cox, 12.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg – Ed.], is the focal point, but there is more to the Delta Devils.

Senior forward Carl Lucas (12.7 ppg) is the top scorer and a 3-point threat. However, senior guards Michael Clark and Stanford Speech are Mississippi Valley State's main 3-point threats. Clark is shooting 36.9 percent (49 for 130) and Speech is hitting 35.6 percent (36 for 101) beyond the arc.

"They know there roles," Prairie View A&M assistant coach Talvin Hester said. "They don't go deep on their bench at all, and some of their role players overachieve. They play really hard and are going to overachieve and make up for their lack of ability with their effort.

"They're not going to pressure you at all. If they have to dribble the ball up, they're going to walk it up. They're going to run their sets. They're really disciplined. Usually, they don't beat themselves. They do what they do, and they do it well."

The Delta Devils won 15 of their last 19 games, with the four losses being by four points or less, and they won by slowing down the game. They rank 285th of 328 teams in scoring at 62.5 points per game, and are 298th in field-goal percentage (.406).
Note the Devils didn’t have Cox (their second leading scorer and leading rebounder) available when they took on the Washington State Cougars (the only common opponent who they lost to by a score of 71-26).

More from Dohn’s report on how the Devils are patient on the offensive end and play a disciplined, physical man to man defense (which rarely goes to zone):
They'll try to get it into the paint as much as they can," Jackson State assistant Anthony Boone said, "not just with their inside guys but with their guards flashing and cutting backdoor some, and also catching and trying to drive to the paint. They're a very patient team on the offensive end. They post up quite a bit with their starting center and a couple other forwards, but they've got a couple of forwards and guards that will come in and post up as well.

"They'll get rattled a little bit, but not a whole lot. They stay under control for the most part."

Defensively, Boone said the Delta Devils rarely play zone defense.

"They play a physical (game), well, physical for our league," Boone said. "Their starting center can block some shots. They're pretty disciplined defensively. They'll jump to the ball. They get out and try to keep the five-second count on. They'll try to get on the wings as much as they can."
I think it will be imperative for us to come out and stay even keeled and not try to go up by 20 points in first 4 or 5 possessions. We also have to play our game which is based on patient offense and our version of physical, man-to-man defense. If we come out and stay patient ourselves against what sounds like a very well coached team, we are going to be in good shape.

It looks like the Devils have one local player on their roster. From the OC Register:
The Delta Devils have one player from Los Angeles, guard Mike Davis, who played at Verbum Dei High. "I grew up kind of a UCLA fan. Now I get a chance to show then what they missed out on," he told the Greenwood Commonwealth. Davis is averaging only 2.4 points per game but is third on the team in assists despite averaging 15.8 minutes.
To see season stats of Mike’s team-mates check out the Devils’ team-page on

As mentioned above this is the Devils’ 4th trip the Big Dance. They lost by a score of 56-93 to Georgetown in 96, 56-83 to Ohio State in 92, and 78-85 to Duke in 1986. Against Duke they were apparently leading in the first half.

So bottom line our guys cannot come out over confident and expect these guys to just roll over and surrender in a huge loss. If we (not just the team but our fans) go in with that kind of mentality, we will deserve whatever comes at us.

The old cliché of fear no one, but respect everyone couldn’t be more appropriate in this time of the year. So on that note please keep all the BS talk about who we are going to play in the second round on Bruins Nation until this game is over.

Keep the focus on our opponents who are just as deserving as anyone to partake in this tournament, and will likely give us everything they have in their effort to make history.

Our guys need to make sure that highlights of Thursday night’s game doesn’t show up on ESPN classic. Dealing with the Princeton garbage is enough.