Chris Fuller said he felt like the happiest man in Baltimore. That's what winning a game can do for someone's disposition, especially when it comes after eight consecutive losses.
Fuller, in his first season as men's basketball coach at Morgan State, saw his team upset UMES on Monday, 79-66, for its first victory in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. It also was the Bears' first victory of any kind since Dec. 7, when Paul Grant made two free throws with 36 seconds left to beat UMBC.
Monday's outcome was especially impressive, considering that the Fighting Hawks were 4-1 in the conference, had won four of their past five games and nearly upset Coppin State. Morgan, meanwhile, was losing by an average of 28 points.
"You want to keep a win like that in perspective, but you also want to milk it for as much as you can," Fuller said. "We're hoping to build on it. It was a big win for us. Any win is a big win for us, as we're finding out."
Grant (10.6 points per game), a senior guard, is the only Morgan player to average in double figures. Junior forward Scott Deas had a career-high 31 points against UMES, raising his average to 8.4.
Fuller lost one player this week, and added another. Senior forward Terrence Wright left the team to concentrate on academics, and 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Claude Bailey became eligible.
Wright is the school's all-time leader in steals with 185 in 81 games. He was averaging 6.6 points -- down from 12.8 last season -- and 4.7 rebounds.
A fifth-year senior who was given an extra year of eligibility because of an injury in 1991, Wright was taking 18 credits and working as a student-teacher. He needed to lighten his workload, and chose to cut out basketball.
Bailey made one start last year and averaged less than four minutes a game. "The opportunity to contribute will be there," Fuller said.
Fuller isn't sure where his team will be playing its home games next season. Renovations are scheduled to begin on Hill Field House in June and will take about 18 months to complete. The athletic offices will be moved to Montebello Rehabilitation Hospital.
Among the changes, which are being funded by the state, to come at Hill Field House are the addition of a multipurpose gymnasium, more locker room space and a weight facility. The arena will be upgraded as well, with additional baskets and new bleachers and lighting. Abraham Moore, vice president of finance and management, said a cost estimate has not been made final.
Two of the most impressive victories for Loyola basketball in recent years have come this month -- a double-overtime win against St. Joseph's on Jan. 4 and a five-point upset at Manhattan on Monday.
Manhattan, fresh off a 26-win season and a first-round upset of Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament, always is tough at home. St. Joseph's, from the Atlantic 10, hadn't lost to Loyola in 66 years.
Coach Brian Ellerbe hasn't gotten too excited over the conquests, even if they may signify that his young squad is growing up. "Manhattan's not the same team it was last year, and St. Joe's lost the heart and soul of their team [guard Bernard Blunt and forward Carlin Warley] to graduation," he said. "But those were solid wins over solid teams."
Iona coach Tim Welsh said, "People around the league are taking notice with those last two wins. Loyola's scary. They're a team that's going to beat a lot of people this year."
The coach's new clothes
Former NBA All-Star Adrian Dantley, in his third season as an assistant men's basketball coach at Towson State, is known around campus for being an impeccable dresser. But that wasn't evident during a Jan. 11 home game against Northeastern when he wore sweat pants, a T-shirt and sneakers.
Dantley had little choice. He had placed his suit on the hood of his car while preparing to leave his Silver Spring home -- and drove off without it.
* Towson State senior defender Chris Smith (Howard) was named to the ISAA All-American Scholar-Athlete team for the South Atlantic Region. . . . Junior center Eboni Taylor became the first female player at Washington College to score 1,000 career points last Sunday. . . . UMBC freshman Alhamisi Simms (Severn School) began the week as the nation's leading free-throw shooter in Division I at 94.3 percent.
* UMBC had tied a team record with six consecutive losses at home until Monday's 72-67 win over Lehigh. . . . At the beginning of the week, Goucher's men's team had made more free throws (208) than its opponents had attempted (206). . . . Villa Julie sophomore Kelly Matthews leads the NCAA in single-game free-throw percentage after going 16-for-16 from the line Monday night against Philadelphia Pharmacy. . . The Johns Hopkins men's team is second in the Centennial Conference in scoring defense, allowing 66.2 ppg.