John Dell newsletter

Here’s some advice about homecoming week at Winston-Salem State: Hydrate.

It’s one of the busiest weeks of the year around campus and, for athletics, it’s a big week. There’s the basketball game at North Carolina and, even though it’s an exhibition game, I’m guessing WSSU will be going all out against a Division I program.

It’s no secret that Big House Gaines, who died in April of 2005, put WSSU on the map thanks to his coaching basketball for 47 years. And it’s because of the legendary Gaines that North Carolina is playing WSSU for the second time in the last 15 years.

Coach Roy Williams of the Tar Heels had great things to say about Gaines. The history of the WSSU program started with Gaines, and it’s his legacy that is always there.

Not only is the basketball game a big deal around these parts, the homecoming football game on Saturday at Bowman Gray Stadium is huge. The Rams are right in the thick of the race for the Southern Division title and have a key game with Shaw. If the Rams win Saturday then beat Fayetteville State the next week, they will be headed to Salem, Va. to play Bowie State in the championship game.

I realize Bowie State hasn’t officially clinched the Northern Division title yet, but it plays lightweights Elizabeth City State and Lincoln (Pa.) during the last two weeks of the regular-season. If Bowie State loses to either one of those teams, I’ll walk to Salem, Va. to cover the championship game. (OK, maybe I won’t actually walk there.)

Finally, it’s interesting that the two starting quarterbacks in Winston-Salem (Dominique Graves at WSSU and Jamie Newman at Wake Forest) both hail from the same area near Burlington. The two never played against each other in high school but are acquaintances.

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