Father-Son Duo Leads B-CUTo New Heights, Captures Conference’s Top Honors
By Roscoe Nance
Bethune-Cookman men's basketball coach Clifford Reed and his son, junior point guard C.J. Reed, have taken the Wildcats to unprecedented heights while achieving what no other father-son combination in MEAC history has achieved.
The elder Reed was voted MEAC Coach of the Year and his son was selected Player of the Year as the Wildcats won their first ever regular-season conference championship and earned their first-ever postseason appearance since moving to Division I. They play Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., in the NIT Wednesday night.
"It really has been a very special year,'' Clifford Reed says. "(C.J.) being Player of the Year is more important than me being Coach of the Year. His hard work came to fruition. Watching him grow as a player and a person was rewarding.'' The Wildcats, picked to finish fourth in the preseason, were 21-12 overall and 13-3 in the conference for their most successful season since joining the MEAC in 1980. The younger Reed's fingerprints were all over the Wildcats' success. He led the MEAC in scoring (19.1 points a game) and had double figures in 30 of 31 games. He was second in total steals (55) and fourth in assists (3.8).
"Without him, we would be a bottom three or four team,'' Reed says.
Earning Player of the Year honors was C.J. Reed's goal when the season began. But his main objective was to help the Wildcats move up in the MEAC standings after they finished seventh in 2009-10. "I thought I could get it done,'' he says. "My dad told me that to win it, we would have to be first or second in the conference.''
Reed did whatever his team needed him to do in order to win. He made a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to beat Delaware State and South Carolina State. His most clutch performance came in a showdown with Hampton. He scored 31 points as the Wildcats won in double-overtime. Reed scored 13 points in the first overtime. His 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left sent the game into a second overtime period; then he made a buzzer-beater to give the Wildcats the win. Reed finished the season by scoring 20-plus points in his final six games.
"I just started to play with a lot of confidence,'' he says.
Father and son credit the younger Reed's confidence and productivity to his offseason training regimen. He worked out five days a week during the summer and lifted weights four days a week.
"He has several attributes,'' Clifford Reed says. "He has a high basketball IQ. But you can't substitute anything for work ethic. Hard work is a lost art.''
C.J. Reed says that he and his teammates have no choice but to work hard because his father is so demanding, adding that is what makes him an outstanding coach.
"He expects you to get it done,'' C.J. said. "There's no way around it.''
Being named MEAC Player of the Year gives Reed a great sense of accomplishment. However, he says his father's Coach of the Year Award is a bigger honor.
"He got us to play at a level nobody else could reach during the season,'' he says.
The Wildcats produced their third consecutive winning season, another first for them since joining the MEAC; they set a school record with ten home victories, perhaps most impressive of all, they were 8-0 on the road in conference play.
Reed says he hasn't had a chance to fully reflect on the season and all that the Wildcats accomplished, and that he has been too busy preparing first for the conference tournament and then for his team's contest with Virginia Tech in the NIT to relish being Coach of the Year.
"I look at it as a staff award,'' Reed says. "It symbolizes that they did an extremely outstanding job for me. They usually pick you when you overachieve. If I hadn't won it, would have bee disappointed but not surprised.''
The Wildcats' goal when the season began was to win at least 12 conference games and to win the regular season and/or conference tournament championship.
"Sometimes you make goals that aren't realistic,'' Reed says, "but you need to be close (to achieving them). It kind of snowballed. Our maturity pulled us through and we won some close games. We were blessed. The players liked each other. They played well together. They made the extra pass. We wanted to win one or the other (the regular season championship or the conference tournament), preferably the tournament. We're disappointed in losing the tournament, but I as I reflect I couldn't imagine us being where we are.''
Reed says the Wildcats have gotten over the disappointment of losing in the conference tournament and are excited about playing Virginia Tech.
"They have had a great year,'' he says. "They will live forever in Bethune-Cookman history as the first team to win a regular-season title. They are energized and excited. It's an honor for our program because of our accomplishments.''
Virginia Tech is one of the NIT's four number one seeds. The Hokies, 21-12, are in the NIT for the fourth consecutive year. The Hokies lost to Duke, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. However, they beat the Blue Devils during the regular season when they were ranked No. 1
"Virginia Tech is in the ACC regardless of how you slice it,'' Reed says. "They are a high major. They are big and strong and athletic on inside. That's one our Achilles heels. We have to deal with that.''