At 82.1 points per game, playing some of the most uptempo and unselfish basketball of any team in the country, the Morgan State Bears have produced some of the most exciting action seen anywhere in the 2020-21 season.
But for coach Kevin Broadus, entertainment is not the pursuit.
“We’re just trying to play to our strengths. We’re not trying to satisfy the general public and what they want to see, we just want to win,” Broadus said. “We’re just trying to satisfy what we want to do.”
The Bears are doing just that, and doing it quite well. With a little less than a month to go in the regular season, they have the best record in the MEAC at 11-4, and sit atop the conference’s Northern Division at 6-2.
On the national level, Morgan State ranks No. 13 in points per game, eighth in free-throw percentage, No. 32 in adjusted tempo, No. 29 in offensive rebounding, and No. 66 in assists-to-field goals made.
The last of those statistics is a particular source of pride for Broadus.
“The thing I like to say we’re doing well: We’re sharing the game,” he said. “We’re playing as a unit. This is the most assists this team has had in the last few years. Our guys are sharing the wealth around and sharing the game with each other, and that’s a part of us being able to score more points.”
Morgan State flourishes with a healthy balance of four scorers averaging in double-figures. Troy Baxter leads the way at 16.9 points per game, followed by De’Torrion Ware at 14.9, Malik Miller at 13.9, and Lagio Grantsaan at 10.6.
Ware, a transfer from Jacksonville State, has done most of his damage as a reserve. Like Jordan Clarkson for the current NBA-leading Utah Jazz or Detroit Pistons fan-favorite Vinnie Johnson, who earned the nickname “Microwave” for his ability to heat up fast, Ware steps into the lineup and the Morgan State offense doesn’t miss a beat.
“He’s one of our best scorers,” Broadus said of Ware. “But he’s a willing passer. You watch him in games, he makes more plays for other players than other players make for him.”
Ware may be the most reflective of the Bears’ overall balance and unselfishness, which extends up and down the roster.
Trevor Moore, for example, is just below the 10ppg mark on the season. Sherwyn Devonish-Prince puts up 7.9 per game, and hit double-figures in three of the Bears’ last four, and again in a non-conference win over Colonial Athletic Association contender James Madison.
Devonish-Prince also sets the table to the tune of 3.9 assists per game. His 58 are most among the 251 the Bears have dished out on 432 made baskets.
Broadus — who, in his career, coached alongside colleagues including Karl Hobbs and Mark Turgeon — said, “Our system comes from JTIII and the Georgetown days,” but with strong influence from another D.C.-area source.
“Wil Jones is very influential in things I do offensively,” Broadus said. “He’s one of the best offensive minds I ever worked with.”
In the basketball-mad Baltimore-D.C. region, Jones was a luminary. He played at American, worked alongside Hall of Famer Lefty Driesell at Maryland, then coached the University of the District of Columbia to the Div. II national championship in 1982.
Broadus was an assistant at UDC in the 1990s, during Jones’ second stint with the program and coinciding with an era in which teams like Nolan Richardson’s Arkansas Razorbacks dominated the landscape with a similar brand of ball.
“ liked the uptempo style of basketball, let the guys play,” Broadus said. “But then you’ve got to reel them in to make sure they understand your system.”
In a new generation, Morgan State understands the system and is making it work. The Bears provide a breath of fresh air in this era. And while wins are the ultimate pursuit, there’s one thing on which witnesses and Broadus can agree about their unselfish and fast-paced style.
“It’s been beautiful to watch,” he said.
Kyle Kensing is a freelance sports journalist in southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.