It's back. The last time the MEAC tournament was in Norfolk that was in 1997. It might not be the CIAA tournament, the ACC tournament, or the Big Ten Tournament but the MEAC Tournament is taking center stage all week at the Norfolk Scope. Norfolk State hopes to be celebrating another trip to the NCAA basketball tournament next Saturday.
Come next Saturday one team will be dancing, but will it be one of Hampton Roads two teams playing in the MEAC tournament. Norfolk State finished their MEAC season undefeated and took home the regular season conference crown. Now the Spartans must keep that perfect record to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.
They're back and the Spartans are ready to defend their MEAC title after last year's "Cinderella Story." NSU has been the team to beat in the MEAC all season long. Even when things got a little sloppy they managed to finish conference play 16 and oh.
Head Coach Anthony Evans said his team is looking forward to this week, "Absolutely, absolutely. We've got the home crowd behind us we'll be relatively close to being in our own beds and things like that so we'll keep our routines as normal so we'll be excited about it." Only three seniors on this year's roster and Johnson is one of them.
Nobody is happier then the transfer from Marist College. During Johnson's freshman year his team only won one game. His sophomore year they won 7, that's when he weighed his options and decided on Norfolk State. Not a bad decision.
"We're still hungry, we're still humble, we want to take every game at a time and we're going to every game like we're going win that game," said Johnson who's looking forward to this week. "We have big goals, we want win the MEAC championship and we just take it a game at a time."
As the Spartans try for back to back, one guy who will be back next season, junior Pendarvis Williams. That's good news for Head Coach Anthony Evans who was named the MEAC Coach of the Year today.
Williams joined the 1,000 point club earlier this season. Penny led the team in scoring with nearly 15 points a game. Speaking of back to back, Kyle O'Quinn, who's now playing for the Orlando Magic won the award last season. In addition to Williams earning a spot on the All-MEAC first team along with the player of the year award, senior forward Rob Johnson earned a spot on the All-MEAC third team, while freshman Rashid Gaston was tabbed to the All-Rookie Team.
The top seeded Spartans begin to defend their MEAC title this Wednesday at 6p.m. They play the winner of the Coppin State/Bethune Cookman game.
The four time champion Hampton University Pirates play their first game Thursday at 6p.m. against the Howard/Delaware State winner. The men's championship game is Saturday at 5p.m.
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