Fang Mitchell could knock over a water cooler, kick some chairs over, and throw a fit over the five-game losing streak saddling the Coppin State men’s basketball team. But that is not his style.
In fact, Mitchell, who has been coaching the Eagles since 1986, sounded calm when discussing a skid that began with a 71-49 setback to Richmond on Dec. 14 and a 77-66 loss to Akron on Tuesday.
“It’s not where I wanted to be, but I do understand where we are,” he said Thursday afternoon. “We recognized when the season started that the last five games were going to be tough. We haven’t done as well as I thought we could. I can’t take so much away from our guys because they do battle. But we have to find a way to win.
"That’s where we are right now because in reality, we’ve lost five straight. We can’t be happy about that, but we are working on it. In our last performance, I thought we played well at times, and that was something I was looking for – especially after you’ve lost four in a row. You need some kind of a spark from the team.”
Coppin State was 4-4 before this recent slide, which includes losses to Southern Mississippi and Jacksonville State at the British Virgin Islands Tropical Shootout on Dec. 20-21 and Toledo on Dec. 28. All five losses have occurred away from the Eagles’ home at the Physical Education Complex in Baltimore, but Mitchell said that was no excuse.
“We strive to win every game we play regardless of the odds, but it is a situation where it’s been tough,” he said. “And the teams we’ve been playing have been ranked high. It’s about competing. Our kids competed in the last game, but we’ve lost five in a row and we look to take it from there and move forward.”
In four of the five games that make up the losing streak, Coppin State has trailed at halftime. Mitchell said a pair of factors in that trend have been on-floor mistakes and an absence of urgency, which he thinks will be corrected as the players develop a chemistry with each other after senior forward Michael Murray and senior shooting guard Andre Armstrong missed several games due to health problems.
“It’s a confidence level, knowing who you are,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s going to come one way or another because the more they play together, the better they will be. I’ve had times where they’ve played really well together. There have also been times when they haven’t. I think it’s also a situation of trying to find the right combination, because now it’s a situation where we’re playing with all of our players. Armstrong might have been out or Murray might have been out. Now we have them all there.”