Todd Bozeman's demeanor rarely changed Saturday at Hill Field House. From the moment he took his seat on the Morgan State bench until he left following a 62-61 loss to North Carolina A&T, the 48-year old coach was the picture of serenity.
Even while his team was building, and then blowing, a 13-point first-half lead. Even as his Bears were committing 19 turnovers and losing yet another close game in a season filled with them. Even as his own son, freshman point guard Blake Bozeman, missed what could have been the game-winning shot.
"It was a regular day at the office for me," Bozeman said, two days after school officials reinstated him after placing him on paid administrative leave following an on-court incident Jan. 8 at South Carolina State. "I don't get carried away with stuff like that, it was what it was."
But Bozeman — who repeated Saturday that "I didn't do anything wrong" — admitted "it felt good to be back with the guys, it felt good to be back [Friday] and come back into practice and do shooting drills with the guys. I missed them, so it was big."
Bozeman was accused of punching senior guard Larry Bastfield during the game at South Carolina State by that school's president, George E. Cooper. But results of an investigation were inconclusive.
Morgan State athletic director Floyd Kerr declined comment Saturday, saying he had been directed not to say anything by university officials. Jarrett Carter, a spokesman for university president David Wilson, also declined comment. The spokesman said Wilson did attend Saturday's game.
Bozeman said his sideline demeanor — either sitting on the bench or standing calmly on the sideline — was not unusual when looking at the way he has acted in the past.
"If the team is almost in disarray, I'm the opposite," Bozeman said. "If the team is lackadaisal, I'm the opposite. We have just gone through so much, I just told them, 'C'mon, you've been through tougher stuff than this.' Just hold tight, just keep playing, stay focused."
It seemed as if Morgan State (4-12, 2-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) would withstand a furious comeback by North Carolina A&T (8-12, 3-2) in the second half when a jump hook by senior forward Kevin Thompson as the shot clock expired put the Bears ahead 61-58 with 1:06 remaining.
But the Aggies pulled within one on a tip-in with 48 seconds left and took the lead when a defensive mixup by Bastfield and sophomore guard Justin Black freed Adrian Powell for the go-ahead layup with 15 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Blake Bozeman drove quickly to the basket, but he short-armed a floater in the lane. Thompson got the rebound but missed in the lane as time ran out. It turned out to be Morgan State's third one-point loss of the season, including a double-overtime one-point defeat at home to Norfolk State last Saturday.
"I thought it was good, and I saw it bounced off the front of the rim" Blake Bozeman said. "It killed me."
But the younger Bozeman admitted that it was good to have "coach" back, and he didn't see anything different from his father.
"Same person," he said.
Junior forward DeWayne Jackson agreed.
Jackson, who led the Bears with 20 points, said that Todd Bozeman "was much cooler in letting us play more, but everything else, he was still pretty much the same old Coach Boze."