Tigers aim for turnaround season

March 11, 2014 was the last time the Grambling Tigers Men’s Basketball Team won a Division I game, and it was against Jackson State. 

Things changed on Jan. 2 when head coach Shawn Walker and his team defeated Alabama A&M University in overtime, 81-78, putting an end to the Tigers’ 37-game Division I losing streak.

Where was the win accomplished? There’s no place like home: Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.  

“We got the monkey off our back,” said Walker.   

Nigel Ribeiro goes in for a layup.

Nigel Ribeiro goes in for a layup.

Fast forward two days later, and the Tigers were victorious again, this time against Alabama State University with a 84-81 win in overtime, putting the Tigers at the number two spot in their SWAC division. 

Veteran players on the team — Mark Gray, Deonte Hearns, Ervin Mitchell and Remond Brown have been attributing to the teams’ wins over their opponents in points. 

Hearns, standing 6-6, has been putting up double digits in rebounds during conference play, a total of 13 during a Jan. 6 game against Jarvis Christian College. 

The ace in the hole Coach Walker has on his team is true freshman Nigel Ribeiro. The Chesapeake, VA native is currently leading his team in scoring (13.5 points per game), minutes played (32.3 per game) and is tied for lead in steals (16). 

He’s also second in assists with 2.5 per game. In a Nov. 21 match-up against Louisiana Tech, Ribeiro, put up 28 points and had two assists.

While the Tigers were able to secure two consecutive conference wins at home, a stop was put to their winning streak by Southern University on Jan. 9 (66-61) and Alcorn State University this past Monday (69-53). 

Even though the two losses have moved their division standings down three spots to the number four spot, it’s far from the end for these guys. 

A total of 14 more games (all division) are to be played, including a second match-up against Southern on Feb. 6. 

The next game for the Tigers will be on Saturday against Prairie View A& M University at 7:30 p.m. in the Assembly Center. “Work will win when wishing won’t” is what Walker tells his players, and if the Tigers (5-11 conference, 2-2 overall) can continue to work together exemplifying teamwork, dedication, and intensity, there’s no reason why they can’t become the 2016 SWAC champs, to be held March 8-12 in Houston.