- Sep 9, 2015
- Reaction score
HOPE (for) DIAMOND
Last season, Norfolk State created a local stir by winning the MEAC tournament and pocketing the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002. The Spartans finished the season 26-7 (11-3 MEAC). It’s been a successful run for head coach, Larry Vickers, now in his nineth season at NSU. Vickers is 70-40 in the MEAC with back-to-back regular season titles. Rewarded with a trip to Columbia, South Carolina Norfolk State was dispatched by the Gamecocks 40-72 in the first round.
Then, last May, the Spartans created a national stir by signing point guard Diamond Johnson . Gopher fans remember Johnson from her freshman year at Rutgers when she led the Scarlet Knights to an 83-56 victory over Minnesota. Johnson was 6-7 from three on her way to a 26-point performance. Johnson left for North Carolina State following that season and spent two productive years with the WolfPack. Larry Vickers was understandably excited about her arrival:
"Diamond is such trailblazer with clear purpose and self-belief," said Coach Vickers. "She has already spoken loudly about her faith in my program with her commitment to us. We have a job to do and we're excited about finishing the job with a close to perfect score. Not everyday you get to coach a McDonalds All-American/Olympian but this young lady is about so much more than basketball."
BUT, Johnson is currently in the NCAA waiver process and has yet to be cleared to play this season. Damn. I was looking forward to watching her match up with Battle.
Norfolk State has a local connection. Kierra Wheeler is a 6’-1” junior forward who played her high school ball at Cooper. She started her career at Daytona State before transferring to NSU last season. Not only is she the Spartans leading scorer, but she’s also the only player averaging over ten points per game with 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game.
Norfolk State was 5-0 before they ran into the buzz saw that is Eastern Tennessee and were ground down in a 35-55 loss in Miami. The Spartans rebounded with a 58-51 win over Colgate. The five opening season wins were: @ William & Mary 66-64, @ Drexel 51-49, @ Radford 70-46, Appalachian State 67-53 and @ Hampton 59-45. Unlike the Gophers, Norfolk State are road warriors.