2008-2009 Norfolk State Spartans Basketball Preview
Norfolk State Spartans - MEAC
2007-08: 16-15, 11-5, 2nd
2007-08 postseason: none
In Coach Anthony Evans’ first year at Norfolk State, the Spartans had their best season ever. His team finished 11-5 in conference play, good enough for a tie for second place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. And until January Coach Evans was just the interim coach. Now the longtime assistant is on board for the long haul and ready to take this team to the top of the conference.
Who’s Out for the Spartans:
But there are some major holes to fill. Rashid Cann rarely put up big numbers in any statistical column, but the point guard started 30 games during his senior year was the leader on the floor. Tony Murphy was the guy in the backcourt who did put up big numbers. The 6-4 shooting guard averaged 17.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists during his senior campaign and he will be missed on many levels. His three-point shooting percentage was not very impressive, in fact at 30.8 percent, it is pretty bad. But Murphy did knock down 2.4 long balls a game and his ability to hit the outside jumper made it much easier for him to attack the basket. There are other minor losses like Lamar Adkins, Chidi Okoli and Jeremy Banks, but the only other loss that will have a major impact on the team is that of Larry Vickers. The 6-9 center’s offense was pretty much limited to put backs after offensive rebounds, but Vickers was great on the defensive end.
The backcourt will get a boost from Aleek Pauline and James Williams. Pauline, a 6-1 point guard, spent one year at Reedley Community College in California where he earned first-team All-Central Valley accolades. Pauline is a true point guard and could even step into a starting role if he can prove that he can keep the turnovers down. Williams will help replace the outside shooting lost with Murphy and holds most of the pressure to turn the Spartans from a bad shooting team into a decent one. Junior college transfer Tim Zephyr is the lone newcomer in the frontcourt and, due to a lack of depth, the 6-8 sophomore will be asked to provide some quality minutes off the bench.
Who to Watch:
Even without Murphy and Cann in the backcourt, Norfolk State has plenty of talent. Corey Lyons, a 6-4 wing, was second on the team with 13.9 points per game and that number should improve since he will take over a lot of Murphy’s shots. Murphy is the most prolific long range shooter returning, and that is not a good thing since he hit just 1.0 long balls per game and attempted 4.0. Lyons will do plenty of damage getting to the basket, but he needs to find a way to hit the outside shot if he wants to lead the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament. Michael Deloach was the sixth man a year ago and could step into the starting role at either the point guard or the shooting guard spot. Despite coming off the bench, he averaged 12.8 points and a team high 3.1 assists per game last year. Kevin Worsley and Raphael Hall are both experienced seniors who will come in off the bench. Those two are also decent shooters when given the opportunity and could be the answer to the Spartans outside shooting woes if they can find the playing time.
Final 2008-2009 Norfolk State Projection:
Forward Brandon Monroe is the team’s best rebounder. He is a decent shot blocker and scorer, but the junior has plenty of room to improve on his numbers of a year ago. Without Vickers by his side, Monroe might have to carry a bigger load in the frontcourt. That is unless Joseph Dorsett-Jeffreys steps up and has a big season. At 6-11 and 300 pounds, the junior can certainly eat up space in the paint. He is also a decent scorer around the basket and will use his large frame to clear space for himself and make the easy buckets. However, he will need to find a way to stay on the floor. He only averaged 11.4 minutes per game last year and still managed to average 2.5 fouls. That is approximately one foul per every 4.5 minutes. It does not take a mathematician to figure out that that is going to be a problem.
Projected Postseason Tournament: none
2008-2009 Norfolk State Projected Starting Five:
Aleek Pauline, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Michael Deloach, Senior, Guard, 12.8 points per game
Corey Lyons, Senior, Guard, 13.9 points per game
Brandon Monroe, Junior, Forward, 5.0 points per game
Joseph Dorsett-Jeffreys, Junior, Center, 4.9 points per game
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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