Howard men face Midland with 5 players, No. 6 Lady Chaps on tap for Howard women

Howard menThe 2010-2011 season for Howard College men’s basketball continues to be one of the more unusual ones.The No. 8 Hawks have lost seven players to suspensions this season, whittling the roster down to five players heading into one of the biggest games of the year. No. 15 Midland College visits at 7:45 p.m. today in Dorothy Garrett Coliseum. “I cannot remember a more challenging season than what we’ve had here,” head coach Mark Adams said. “We keep thinking surely, it’s going to start getting better.”The season started with the dismissals of Phillip Jackson, Jonathon Landry and Fabyon Harris following a shoplifting incident. Then Will Bunton was dismissed for breaking team rules halfway through the season.Now the Hawks (15-2, 3-0 in Western Junior College Athletic Conference play) are without Jermaine Winnfield, Jerry Dixon and Johnnie Lacey, who are suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. So it’ll be Corey Stern, Shavon Coleman, Joe Bright, Tramel White and Carlos Emory taking the floor tonight and it won’t be against any slouch. Howard womenThe Howard College women aren’t counting on a hangover from the overtime loss at New Mexico Junior College last week. If anything, they expect games like that. “I told our team once we enter conference play, I would say almost every game is going to come down between three and five possessions,” head coach Earl Diddle said. “I think we did a lot of good things in New Mexico. We were down a couple times, then we came back. Even in overtime we had the first two stops and then came down and turned it over. “If we wouldn’t have turned it over, who knows what would’ve happened.” The Hawks are hoping to avoid those mistakes when No. 6 Midland College visits at 5:45 p.m. today in Dorothy Garrett Coliseum. Midland (18-3, 3-0) was one of the teams the Howard women saw in the WJCAC Pre-Conference tourney, taking a loss to the Lady Chaps in the second round.But Diddle stresses this is a huge game for both squads. The Hawks (15-4, 1-1) have a chance to knock off the No. 6 team in the nation at home. Diddle said this game certainly gets more hype than others, considering the proximity of the two schools and the winning tradition. But the same could be said when Howard faces other teams in the area, too.“I think anytime it’s Midland-Howard, Howard-Odessa, Howard-South Plains and even Howard and Western (Texas College), I think the proximity is a lot like the ACC, Tobacco Road,” Diddle said. “All those schools are really close to each other. I don’t think there is one (game) more important than the other. It’s just that they’re really close and there are people who work in our communities, Big Spring people work over there. It’s really good for college basketball that we have such proximity and such good rivals.”Diddle expects a Midland College team without any weaknesses tonight. The Lady Chaps have the ability to score inside the paint and from the perimeter. But their real strength is depth. Diddle said the Lady Chaps substitute a lot because they have a handful of players who can produce.