Morgan State is not off to the start in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference that one might expect from a team voted third in the league's preseason poll.
The Bears (1-8 overall) dropped their first two conference games, falling to Norfolk State, 85-65, on Saturday and then Hampton, 62-58, on Monday. They are tied with Coppin State (1-7, 0-2) and North Carolina A&T (1-9, 0-2) for last place in the league, but coach Todd Bozeman is the voice of calm for the team.
"There's no need to panic," he said Wednesday. "We're 0-2. Last year, we started off 2-0 and then we lost our next two games and were 2-2. This is way too early for any of that. You're talking about a 16-game league schedule. So we'll just take it accordingly and use it as a barometer for what we haver to do to get better. And Hampton and Norfolk are two of the better teams in the league as well. So those guys playing the way they played is not a surprise."
Morgan State won't face another conference rival until Jan. 10. The Bears will clash with seven non-conference opponents before diving back into league play, and Bozeman is hoping the team can find its rhythm during that stretch.
"We clearly haven't gotten to where we need to be," he said. "We're still trying to figure some things out, we're still growing. I think there are some things we're getting better at. … Typically, I like to get through my non-conference because it gives you a chance to work all of the kinks out, and I don't think we've had a chance to do that. So we're still growing. …
"I thought we were better in the Hampton game, and when I look back at over the course of the season, there were some games that we probably should have won and could have won. You grow from each one of those experiences, but we're going to get there. It's a cohesive unit that's working really hard, and we just have to keep working at it."
Morgan State's next game is Tuesday at UC-Irvine (4-3), and the team is using an eight-day break for the players to take final exams for the fall semester.
"That will take some of the stress off," Bozeman said. "The break really is needed. We've been playing games every other day since we started. It was a very hectic run there in the first couple weeks, and there was a lot of travel. We went to Cancun and Blacksburg and Hampton and Iowa and Houston and Penn State. So there's been a lot of travel, and it's good that the guys get a little break here and we can fine-tune some things and work to get better."