BALTIMORE – Arnold Fripp appreciates the practice battles with his good friend and teammate Michael Murray. Fripp likes being knocked around because the way he sees it, the consistent poundings and paint tutorials are only going to make the Coppin State University senior forward stronger and better.
“Even though I’ve known him since high school, he doesn’t cut me any slack,” Fripp said. “He’s helped me a lot and by him always going at me in practice, it’s prepared for the physical and tough games in the conference.”
Fripp and the Eagles hope that the aggressive player that scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 75-69 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) win over South Carolina State makes many more consistent appearances as the Eagles head into the meat of their conference schedule.
Coppin State (5-11 overall, 2-1 MEAC) begin a tough four-game road trip with games against Hampton (8-8, 3-0) Saturday afternoon at 6 p.m. and Norfolk State (10-7, 4-0) Monday night at 8 p.m.
With Fripp and Murray playing together at a high level along with sharpshooting guards Andre Armstrong, Sterling Smith, Daquan Brickhouse, Taariq Cephas raining baskets from all over the gym, Coppin State has the ability and talent to be a factor in the conference. The Eagles knocked off Oregon State, 78-73 on Nov. 11 and Fripp’s 17-point performance was a big part of that triumph.
“We know what type of team we have and our record doesn’t show how good we are,” Fripp said. “Beating South Carolina State was big for us. We just have to continue to play with lots of energy and intensity going forward. This win was definitely a confidence builder for us.”
It was good to see Fripp rebound from consecutive scoreless outings against Towson and Savannah State with a strong effort. He was a key factor in helping Coppin State hold on to beat the Bulldogs. Fripp threw down a one-handed dunk to cap a 7-0 run that gave Coppin State the lead for good against South Carolina State. Then a few minutes later when the Bulldogs closed to within, 67-66, Fripp knocked down a short baseline jumper.
Overall, Fripp has scored in double figures seven times this season for the Eagles. In addition to his big performance against Oregon State, Fripp averaged 12 points during Coppin State’s two games in the British Virgin Islands against Southern Mississippi and Jacksonville State. The transfer from Monroe Community College started the season by grabbing at least seven rebounds in Coppin State’s first three games. He grabbed 10 rebounds against Richmond.
Fripp has always stood out on the basketball court and in a crowd. He had an earlier growth spurt than many of his peers. Fripp, who is a huge Bugs Bunny fan, didn’t take basketball seriously when he started playing the sport.
“I was always tall and I started hitting my growth spurt in seventh or eighth grade,” Fripp said. “I always loved basketball, but I never really took it that seriously. I got naturally good at it and that made my dedication stronger to the sport. It’s definitely a special feeling to be playing here at Coppin State.”
In a 73-60 victory over Delaware State last week, Hampton senior forward Du’Vaughn Maxwell led the Pirates with 21 points and eight rebounds. Redshirt-freshman guard Lawrence Cooks added 13 points, going 5-for-7 from the floor and hitting both 3-pointers. In beating Delaware State, the Pirates shot 70.4 percent (19-for-27) from the floor in the second half.
Maxwell leads the Pirates in scoring with a 13.2 point per game average and rebounding (6.5). Deron Powers scores at a 12.1 point per game clip and has a team-high 71 assists. Brian Darden chips in 9.3 points per game and leads the Pirates with 38 3-pointers. Overall, Hampton has won three of its last four games and is 5-1 at home.
The Eagles have their work cut for them against Norfolk State, which has won 23 consecutive regular season MEAC games after edging Delaware State, 58-56, Monday night. The Spartans lead the conference in scoring offense (77.9), field goal percentage (48.8), 3-point field goal percentage (34.8) and are second in assists per game (14.5).
Norfolk State is led by Malcolm Hawkins and Pendarvis Williams, who are fifth and ninth, respectively in the conference in scoring. Hawkins averages 16.8 points per game and Williams scores at a 15.8 point per game clip. Brandon Goode is third in the MEAC in rebounding (7.0 per game) and second in field goal percentage (61.8). Jamel Fuentes is second in the conference in assists (5.5). Like Hampton, the Spartans only have one loss at home this season.
Coppin State will be on the road against next weekend when it travels to North Carolina to meet Central and A&T.