Michael Grant, Coppin State University’s incoming men’s basketball coach, knows he has big shoes to fill but he believes he is up to the task of replacing Ron “Fang” Mitchell, Coppin’s legendary coach who has departed after 28 years on the job.

No stranger to replacing coaching legends, Michael Grant arrives at Coppin looking to meet the challenge of reviving Coppin’s reputation as a feared competitor on the hardwood

Grant brings solid coaching credentials to the task. He came to Coppin from Stillman College, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II school in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he amassed a 100-73 won-loss record as head coach from 2006 to 2014.

Before Stillman College, Grant was head coach at NCAA Division I Southern University in Louisiana where as head coach from 2003 -2005 he had a less favorable won/loss record of 26-31.

He came to Southern from Central State University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in Wilberforce, Ohio, where his won-loss record during his 1996 to 2003 tenure was 126-94. Grant now looks to lead Coppin State back to the NCAA Tournament, where they haven’t been since 2008.

Coppin State Athletic Director Derrick Ramsey has directed Grant to recruit in the Baltimore area first, then around the rest of the state before seeking airplane tickets to scour the rest of the nation for talent.

“I’ve kind of done my research and I couldn’t find when the last player from Baltimore was on a Coppin roster,” Grant said.

For Grant, reversing that trend is high on his to-do list. The last Baltimore player to play at Coppin was Larry Tucker from 2000-2003. But he has an upbeat approach. More than once recently, he said, “We need to show Baltimore some love!”

The style of basketball will be a bit different, according to Grant.

“No one in the MEAC will be able to play the way that I play,” said Grant. “We’re going to get up and down the floor. We’re going to run, press. We’re going to play an exciting brand of basketball. Every team that I’ve coached in the last 15 years, we’ve led that conference in scoring. Our goal is to make sure that we’re putting up over 80 points a game.”

Also, his goal on defense is to lead the MEAC in steals and rebounds.

Grant’s motto is “Pride Starts Today!” He explained that has a lot to do with how his guys play on the floor and perform in the classroom.

“We have to make sure that we are ready to play every time we step on that floor,” Grant said. “I told these guys that you can’t fool fans. Fans know when you leave everything out on that floor and they know when you’re messing around.”

Soon, that philosophy will be put to the test. “You can’t duplicate anything that Fang has done,” Grant said. “The only thing that we’re going to do right now is just revise things. He has great history. The things that Fang has done in this program were outstanding and he did just a great job here. I don’t think you can never duplicate that.”

Keith Henry

Special to the AFRO