ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - This season, Claflin head coach Ricky Jackson and his players have diligently work inside Tullis Arena honing their craft before the sun comes up.
Their early morning practices are just part of the reason the Panthers currently own a 16-game winning streak and are tied for first in the Eastern Division of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. However, it's not something Jackson or his players are focused on.
"I really just learned of our record because I don't pay it any attention and I know the guys haven't," Jackson admitted. "We just take one day at a time, we work one day at a time, and we play one game at a time. The record is what it is. Don't get me wrong. We'll take it, but the end result is how we end up at the end of the season.
Claflin (17-1, 10-0) currently leads the SIAC in scoring defense, opponents' field goal percentage, and opponents' 3-point percentage. Keeping foes away from the basket has been the calling card for Claflin all year long.
"All preseason, that's what we were working on – conditioning and defense," Claflin senior guard Tre' Williams said. "We worked on it in preseason, during the season, and we're going to continue to work on it because, in order to win championships, that's what you've got to do."
Claflin, who is ranked No. 20 in the NABC Coaches Poll, will travel to Atlanta on Saturday to face an unbeaten Morehouse squad. The Panthers are tied with No. 14 Morehouse and Clark Atlanta with perfect conference records making this game one of the biggest of the season for Claflin. However, the Panthers have no intention of making this contest any bigger than any other they've played this year.
"It's a big game," Claflin junior guard Triston Thompson said, "but it's also just another game. Both teams are very good. Morehouse is good and, of course, Claflin is good, but we're just going to take it as another game."
Claflin will take on Morehouse in Atlanta at 3 p.m. at Forbes Arena.