Juan Dixon, Kevin Broadus, and Kenny Blakeney are three coaches with ties to two of College Basketball’s more storied programs and they’ve taken on the task of transforming the programs at Morgan State, Coppin State, and Howard into perennial contenders in MEAC Basketball.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) basketball has pretty much the same challenges other mid-major conferences do when it comes to visibility on the big-time college basketball landscape. Visibility for the conference and its teams and a healthy respect for the brand of basketball being played, are among the constant challenges shared by mid-majors across the board.
The MEAC being a conference comprised of historically black colleges and universities add an additional layer of pride and legacy for those that play within its respective footprint. Juan Dixon (Coppin State University), Kevin Broadus (Morgan State University), and Kenny Blakeney (Howard University) have inherited three of the northern-most basketball programs in the MEAC regional footprint with hopes of transforming them into contenders in the conference.
Juan Dixon’s story is pretty well known to those both inside of Maryland Terrapin fandom and in College Basketball circles in general. He overcame some pretty bleak circumstances to get to college park as a player and led the Terps to the school’s only National Championship in 2002.
After a career in pro basketball and some lower-level coaching stops, Dixon is in his third season as the head coach at Coppin State in Baltimore, Md. and is starting to establish a culture centered around the intangibles that made him a legend in College Park. There’s also another branch of the University of Maryland tree that’s embedded right across town at Morgan State University.
Kevin Broadus’ coaching pedigree includes a head coaching stint at Binghamton University, as well as prominent runs at Georgetown University and the University Of Maryland respectively as an assistant coach. His time at both Georgetown and UMD solidified him as one of the better recruiters in College Basketball. In his first season with the Bears as Head Coach, Broadus has translated that pedigree into a resurgent season by MEAC standards.
The Bears currently have a 15-15 overall record and a conference record of 9-6, a marked turnaround from the dismal 9-22 overall record experienced the previous season. Coppin State vs. Morgan was already a pretty good rivalry with Baltimore City roots to it; It looks to get even spicier with both Dixon and Broadus heading up their respective schools.
Howard University head coach Kenny Blakeney also has a storied pedigree to fall back on. A DC/Metro native, Blakeney had a standout career at fabled DeMatha High School under legendary coach Morgan Wooten and a solid career with Duke University. His ties to local basketball in the DMV are noteworthy, as well. Of the three coaches, Blakeney’s task of resurrecting Bison basketball may be the toughest, as the program hasn’t seen any sustained success within the MEAC for over two decades. He’ll be heavily relying on his familiarity with grassroots basketball in the area to inject talent into a program that severely needs it.
All three coaches have some of the same issues to deal with in terms of building their respective programs; Resources and visibility are constant worries for MEAC schools in general, and the programs at Morgan State, Coppin State, and Howard University are no different in this regard.
The silver lining here for the MEAC is that all three programs have coaches heading them that know how to win at the highest levels of college basketball. All three also have a unique insight into the talent-rich DC/Metro – Baltimore corridor. Morgan State has already translated that prowess into tangible results this season. Coppin State isn’t that far behind.
The future of MEAC basketball’s competitive balance looks to be bright if these three head coaches can realize the potential of their respective programs.