Norfolk State Athletics

2013-2014 MEAC Preview: Norfolk State to dance once again

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Norfolk State Athletics

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Norfolk State, a season after advancing to the Round of 32, went a perfect 16-0 to win the MEAC regular season title last season. Dreams of a return trip to the NCAA tournament were dashed when Adrien Coleman and eighth-seeded Bethune-Cookman took down the Spartans in overtime, 70-68, in the MEAC tournament quarterfinals. Norfolk State had to settle for the NIT, losing to Virginia in the first round.

Head coach Anthony Evans took the vacancy at Florida International in mid-April, once Richard Pitino left for Minnesota. Robert Jones has taken over the program in the interim, and if his team can live up to the hype, Norfolk State will likely remove that interim label as the Spartans for the third straight year are eyeing the NCAA tournament. Norfolk State returns four starters, including reigning MEAC Player of the Year Pendarvis Williams.

The MEAC tournament has been unpredicatable in recent seasons with the last three regular season champions not gaining the automatic berth for the NCAA tournament. Norfolk State is the clear-cut favorite, and will take no one lightly in tournament play following last year’s upset, but the Spartans will have some competition. North Carolina Central finished only a game back of Norfolk State last year, and the Eagles bring back the versatile Jeremy Ingram. Morgan State and Hampton both return four starters. Even towards the middle of the pack, a team like Florida A&M could cause chaos in the MEAC this season with a backcourt of Jamie Adams, Reggie Lewis and Muhammad Abdul-Aleem.

PRESEASON MEAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Pendarvis Williams, Norfolk State

The 6-foot-6 guard was named MEAC Player of the Year after a junior season averaging 14.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the Spartans. Kyle O’Quinn obviously deserves the credit he received during the 2012 season, but don’t forget Williams had 20 points, four rebounds and two assists in the NCAA tournament upset over Missouri. The Philadelphia native is a pro prospect, looking to join O’Quinn, now with the Orlando Magic, in the NBA.

FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Jeremy Ingram, North Carolina Central: Was second in the conference in scoring at 15.7 per contest, going for 20 or more eight times in 2012-2013.
  • Justin Black, Morgan State: Posted 14.2 points per game last year. Will get help from Shaquille Duncan and Blake Bozeman this season.
  • Lamont Middleton, North Carolina A&T: Key piece from last season’s NCAA tournament team. One of two starters returning on a team with nine newcomers
  • Jamie Adams, Florida A&M: Top scorer for the Rattlers at 14.0 points per game. Leading the conference’s best perimeter attack.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @MEAC1970

PREDICTED FINISH:

1. Norfolk State
2. North Carolina Central
3. Morgan State
4. Hampton
5. Savannah State
6. Coppin State
7. Florida A&M
8. Bethune-Cookman
9. North Carolina A&T
10. Maryland-Eastern Shore
11. Delaware State
12. South Carolina State
13. Howard

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
Purdue Athletics
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.