- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
NCAA countdown: No. 65 Norfolk State
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On August 13, 2013 @ 1:05 pm In NCAA,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: Former coach Anthony Evans piloted Norfolk State to a 16-0 conference record — the first team to go undefeated in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Success in college basketball at the mid-major level often comes at a price. Such was the case when Evans resigned to take over as the new coach at Florida International, replacing Richard Pitino (now at Minnesota).
Yet Evans left perhaps his best team behind, as the Spartans return four starters from last season and eight of the top 10 scorers — five of whom will be seniors. Barring injuries or chemistry issues, on paper, this is the makeup of an NCAA tournament team. And a team with a chip on it shoulder following an unexpected conference tournament exit in falling in overtime to lowly Bethune-Cookman, the 8th place finisher in the MEAC regular season.
2012-13 in review: 21-12 overall, 16-0 (MEAC regular-season champs), lost in NIT first round to Virginia.
Coach’s Corner: Associate head coach Robert Jones took over as interim head coach at Norfolk State following Evans’ departure. Jones is in his seventh year on the Spartans’ bench.
Star watch: Reigning MEAC Player of the Year Pendarvis Williams returns to Norfolk after averaging 14.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game last season. Fellow seniors Malcolm Hawkins (11.4 ppg) and Brandon Goode (7.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg) help form a veteran nucleus that led much of last season’s success. Look for junior floor general Jamel Fuentes (4.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) and sophomore Rashid Gaston (8.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) to have more prominent roles after promising 2012-13 seasons.
Team strength/weakness: The Spartans’ obvious strength comes with experience. Mid-major basketball is often cyclical and having high-level players with two-three years of playing time under their belt pays off in key moments — down the stretch in close games and in the postseason before hostile crowds. Even the reserves for Norfolk State (Maurice Phelps, Zieyik Estime, Kievyn Lila-St. Rose) are upperclassmen. The Spartans want the game to be played at an uptempo pace, and they initiate that with in-your-face pressure defense.
One area of concern … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 65 Norfolk State, click here.]
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/ncaa-countdown-no-65-norfolk-state
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.