Gallagher column: Livingstone hitting the airwaves
Getting ready for Livingstone’s playoff run ...
SALISBURY — Make the Division II national playoffs and the radio discovers you.
Livingstone is reaping the benefits of its success this week. The Blue Bears (22-6) take on Fairmont State (22-8) Saturday in an 8:30 start at West Liberty (W. Va).
There probably won’t be a throng of local fans making the seven-hour trip but it can listen to the game, thanks to WSAT 1280 AM.
The pre-game show begins 20 minutes before tipoff.
Before that game, Livingstone coach James Stinson will be on the radio show “From the Press Box to Press Row.”
Donal Ware is the host and the show places major emphasis on HBCU Sports.
It airs on SiriusXM Channel 141 Fridays from 1-2 p.m. and replayed Sundays from 10-11 p.m.
The show airs on 32 radio stations around the country.
TV STARS: The ESPN network also aired the CIAA Tournament championship game against Bowie State.
“I haven’t watched any of it,” Stinson laughed.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE: Stinson was asked how this playoff run is helping recruiting.
“We’re already on the road,” he smiled, adding he’s getting calls from high school players and coaches about coming to play on Monroe Street.
FAN-TASTIC: Newcomers will get to experience one of the CIAA’s most loyal fan bases.
When the Blue Bears are playing in Trent Gym, there aren’t many teams with a better homecourt advantage.
Take the game on Feb. 23 against Winston-Salem State. It was going to decide the Southern Division championship and the fans showed up early.
“They packed it for the women’s game,” Stinson noted. “The expectations were there. They came to see a very good ballgame. We knew what was on the line.”
And Livingstone entertained them. It won, 85-74.
“I can’t say enough about them,” Stinson said of the fans.
SENIOR SUPERLATIVES: There are four key seniors on this year’s team, with only one, Tyler Johnson, a four-year Blue Bear.
The others are 6-4 guard Omar Ford-Bey, 6-8 Eladio Espinosa and 6-foot-7 Ethan Anderson.
Johnson has amazed Stinson. He’s listed at 6-3 but he has grabbed as many as 16 rebounds in a game.
“Tyler did not come in highly recruited,” Stinson said. “We thought, ‘Where is he going to play? At 6-3, he can’t play inside.’
“Well, he fooled me.”
How does Johnson get all of those rebounds among the trees?
“I don’t know,” chuckled Stinson. “He just has a knack for the basketball.”
Stinson is just as proud of the seniors’ grades. All three carry over a 3.0 GPA.
“They compete not only on the floor but in the classroom,” he said.
NEW GUYS: It was Stinson’s job to mold a team of returnees with some talented newcomers:
• Jody Hill, a 6-1 junior, was recruited by Division I and II schools out of Detroit and transferred here from Delta College, where he was a junior college All-American. He is a former teammate of leading scorer Mark Thomas and that helped his decision to come to Salisbury.
His favorite movie is “Blue Streak” and that’s what Hill’s nickname should be when he enters the game.
“He’s a very good find,” Stinson said. “When Jody comes off the bench, he puts numbers up and creates opportunities.”
• Espinosa, a 6-8 inside player, has helped the rebounding and scoring.
“He comes in with a track record of being athletic, strong and a very good rebounder,” Stinson said. “He’s another glue guy who has helped us tremendously.”
• Anthony Welch Jr., a 6-5 junior from Chicago, is instant offense as a key reserve. He transferred in from Oakland Community College, where he averaged 14 points per game.
“He has a lot of potential,” Stinson said. “He has accepted his role and has been a spark. It’s a pleasure to have somebody like him and Jody coming off the bench.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW: Welch’s father is Anthony Welch Sr, who played Big Ten basketball for Illinois and also saw time in the NBA.
Welch’s brother, Darius, also transferred from Oakland.
THE TRIP: Livingstone is heading out Thursday on the long bus ride, but Stinson said it won’t be a problem. Just the opposite.
“It will help with camaraderie,” he said. “There will be a lot of laughing and talking. But we will also talk about what we want to do and make them focus on what the goal is.”
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or email@example.com.