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Chemistry The Key For Norfolk State

February 25, 2008 Columns No Comments

For Norfolk State, Chemistry Has Been the Key

by Michael T. Lyle, Jr.

Norfolk State head coach Anthony Evans has one word to sum up his team’s ascension into a two-way tie for first place in the MEAC standings: chemistry.

He believes it’s the reason his Spartans are 10-2 in conference play, helped in large part, to standout performances from guards Tony Murphy, Corey Lyons and Michael DeLoach. All three have been the difference for a team many didn’t see as a contender against the likes of Morgan State and Hampton.

After a rough start, mostly during their out-of-conference portion on the campaign, Evans’ team has played their best basketball within the league. They’ve won eight of their last nine, including a five-game unbeaten streak which has them tied for the top spot with Morgan State.

But the Spartans will have their work cut out for them as try to keep the momentum going. They’ll hit the road for a regular season-ending five straight road contests, including a huge showdown at third-place Hampton on Saturday, March 1.

“It’s a good feeling with everything that’s been done,” said Evans. “I’m really proud of the guys. They’ve surprised a lot of people.”

Even with all the obstacles lying ahead for the Spartans, Evans says the team’s surprise run is a result of his players adapting to his coaching style.

“Our guys are starting to believe in the system,” he said. “We had a lot of guys coming back from last year and we knew it was going to take some time.”

Another key component for Norfolk State, which finished in seventh place last season, has been the offensive outburst from Murphy. The senior from Patterson, N.J., has averaged 20 points in his last four games, including 25 in the Spartans’ last win, at home against Maryland-Eastern Shore. His efforts have been backed by Lyons (14.2 ppg) and Deloach (13.3 ppg), both of whom have proven to be second and third scoring options for Evans.

“He’s a great guy that plays hard,” said Evans of Murphy. “He’s someone we know we can go to each and every night.”

Perhaps this surprise run to the top will be enough for the Spartans to dance among the field of 65. Norfolk State has never made the NCAA Tournament in their eleven-year tenure in the MEAC, but for Evans, who had his interim tag removed after agreeing to a three-year contract last month, says anything is possible as long as his squad continues their stellar play as of late.

“It would be a thrill for the team and the program,” he said. “We have to come out every night and play with consistency. We’ll keep on fighting and what ever happens will happen.”


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