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Spartan men’s hoopers dominate Virginia University of Lynchburg in season opener, setting the bar for 2022-2023 Season.
Norfolk State University’s men’s basketball team returned to the court to defend their back-to-back MEAC conference titles and tipped-off its 2022-2023 campaign against Virginia University of Lynchburg in-house in a dominant 109-59 victory.
Veteran guard Joe Bryant Jr. tallied 13 points, forward Daryl Anderson scored 14 points and newcomer guard George Beale Jr. tallied a double-double garnering 18 points and 14 rebounds in the 50-point blowout.
The Spartan men’s hoopers are fresh off their third NCAA Division I tournament berth in school history after they suffered a defeat at the hands of the Baylor Bears in the first round last March. The men’s basketball team appeared in the annual tournament in 2012, 2021, and 2022, respectively.
In the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Spartans were bested by the #1 seed Gonzaga in the first round, who later was beaten in the national championship game against Baylor. .
It was only the fifth time in tournament history a #2 seed was defeated by a 15th seed, and it is also recognized as the most monumental win in Norfolk State Basketball history. The 2012 team eventually went on to the round of 32 and lost to Florida, who eventually fell in the elite eight to Louisville.
The historic 2012 team was led by former NBA Forward Kyle O’ Quinn, who was selected as the 49th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic.
The 2021 and 2022 team(s) have been led by guard Joe Bryant Jr., who is the reigning MEAC Player of the Year (2022) and MEAC conference tournament MVP. (2021-2022), Bryant earned the award twice consecutively – An achievement that has not been reached since North Carolina A&T guard Phillip Allen won it back-to-back in 1994 and 1995.
Bryant Jr. had a remarkable season last year, averaging 16.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3 assists while shooting 43 percent from the field. He garnered the most total points out of any player in the MEAC (519) and shot 91.5 percent from the free-throw line.
He aims to lead the team to a third consecutive NCAA Division I tournament appearance, which has yet to be done in school history. Should the Spartans accomplish that feat, they will then join North Carolina A&T (1977-1979 and 1982-1988), and North Carolina Central (2017-2019) as the only schools in the MEAC to win the MEAC tournament three or more years in a row.
Norfolk State head coach Robert Jones dribbles into his 10th season at the helm as he currently holds an overall record of 166-126(.568). Jones served as the assistant coach (2007-2013) before taking over during the 2013 season.
During his tenure with the green and gold, he’s clinched two MEAC tournament titles (2021 and 2022) and won two MEAC regular season titles in 2019 and 2022, respectively. He has been named MEAC coach of the year twice in 2019 and 2022.
Jones is the only coach to win MEAC coach of the year twice at Norfolk State
University. Divergent to the previous head coach Anthony Evans’s win in 2012, Jones valorously accomplished the feat twice. Out of the dozen head coaches the Norfolk State basketball team has had in its history, coach Robert jones has secured the most appearances in the NCAA tourney while winning the MEAC more times than any other Norfolk State head coach.
The Spartans have had a great deal of success in the dynamic duo of Jones and Bryant Jr., as they’ve catapulted Norfolk State to mainstream attention.
The Spartan hoopers have multiple primetime games looming as they look to vindicate their 2022 NCAA tournament loss when they travel to Baylor on November 11th. Following that game, they will trailblaze to palm trees and sunshine and challenge the UCLA Bruins on the 14th.
The Spartans have a total of eight matchups that will be showcased on ESPN platforms throughout the season. The oppositions for these games are Baylor (Nov 11th), UCLA (Nov 14th), Houston (Nov.29th), Hampton (Dec 17th), North Carolina A&T (Dec 18th), Morgan State (Jan 23rd), North Carolina Central (Jan 30th), and Howard (March 2nd).
Three of their competitors are in the coaches’ preseason top eleven (No. 9 Baylor, No. 11 UCLA, and No. 7 Houston).
The men’s basketball team and its legion of fans have high expectations for this season, as the group looks to conquer the MEAC title once more, and garner yet another record-breaking season.
Meet the Spartan Faculty
Meet the Spartan faculty: Dr. Danielle Williams
By Kingsley Hunter
NORFOLK, VA — Faculty are seen as the backbone of an institution, as they deal with the responsibility to help students reach their potential not only academically but personally. At Norfolk State University’s Student Support Services Center, located in the James A. Bowser Building, faculty, such as the center’s director Dr. Danielle Williams, are ready and willing to help guide students to strive for success.
Willams grew up in Norfolk, graduated from Norview High School, and then attended fellow in-state historically black college and university (HBCU) Virginia State University, despite her mother being a Spartan.
“I did not want to go to Norfolk State University because it felt like home, Norfolk State was a part of my life and it was always around me, we went to every game and at the time, I did not want to go to Norfolk State University,” Williams said.
After Williams graduated from Virginia State, her passion for helping students became apparent. She then began teaching English to seventh and eighth graders at Charles City Middle School, located about an hour and a half away from her home. But as the saying goes, “You will always find your way back home.” Williams found herself pursuing a graduate degree in Media and Communications at Norfolk State.
“I came back home, moved in with my mom, and I went to Norfolk State. I fell in love with Norfolk State for the first time. I fell in love with Norfolk State three times,” Williams said.
Williams highlighted the friendships and connections she made while studying in graduate school and praised the Media and Communications program. She worked for 13NewsNow as an Associate Producer and other communication professional jobs while attending graduate school. At this point, Williams was at a crossroads between working in the communications field and helping students reach their full potential.
“What am I enjoying the most throughout my career so far? Working in higher education while helping students get into college, I love that look and feeling when I introduce this world of the university to students. That is what brought me back to Norfolk State, and that is the second time that I fell in love with Norfolk State,” Williams said.
Williams took a leadership role at Norfolk State. While she spoke highly of her new position and the great people surrounding her, she decided that she wanted to continue her education.
“I remember when I was working at Virginia State as an admissions counselor and I remember sitting at my office and I laughed out loud and said, ‘God, they wouldn’t be able to handle it if I had a doctorate.’ It was just a passing thought; I never did anything past that. I had no plans returning to school at that point,” Williams said.
The current Student Success Center director earned her Doctorate at NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while working at Norfolk State as a full-time faculty member. Williams spoke on how many transitions happened in her personal life while working on her doctorate and continuing employment at Norfolk State, including relationships and entering motherhood.
Williams briefly left the world of classrooms, pencils, and computers and stepped into the world of hospital beds, scrubs, and gurneys. She transitioned to working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, further proving her passion for helping not only students but people in general.
Dr. Williams has accomplished a lot in her career, from graduating college three times over, ultimately earning a doctorate, and helping countless students in the classroom. Still, three words are the one lesson that she wants to instill in people who are trying to make it in life.
“Purpose over paper. You really must chase purpose and not paper. You run up against a brick wall whenever you try to chase a dollar. But if you are going after what you are truly passionate about and what makes your heart skip a beat, then you will win every time,” Williams said.
She credits her experiences along the way as what brought her to fall in love with the green and gold again for the third time. She returned in spring 2022 and she vocalized her feelings about her return.
“I am like a kid in the candy store every single day. Number one is that I know I am working at my purpose. I know that this is what I am called to do, I am called to these students, I am called to be at this place to make it better. This is my life’s work. I am a part of their life’s journey. And it took a while. I am so grateful to be here now, and the third time’s the charm.”
Since returning to Norfolk State on Jan. 10, Williams has had nothing but positive things to say about being back at the place where she earned her master’s degree. She discussed what a typical day of work looks like being the director of the student support services.
“I love that my days aren’t really the same. Kids come in and this is a place that truly belongs to our students. A typical day for me, I come in and we have some students who come here daily. I check in with my tutors and make sure everyone is okay. It’s just meetings and meetings with students. I also try to not just stay in the office. I need to hear and see what their needs are. How can I influence for the better after what I gathered today,” Williams said.
As an educator, Williams prides herself on serving the students at Norfolk State University with anything they need. Williams articulated how she approaches students who confide in her and need help, whether academically, mentally, or emotionally.
“Each message is different; I really try to take time and listen. Some of it is encouragement and some is just true listening. It’s okay to take your foot off the accelerator and just coast for a second, and just have a good time.”
You can find Dr. Danielle Williams in room 112 in Bowser Building.
MEAC Basketball Tournament: Howard Routes South Carolina 91-55
Posted on 03/09/23 by KINGSLEY D. HUNTER
By Kingsley Hunter
The Men’s side of the 2023 MEAC Tournament tipped off with the one-seed Howard Bison defeating the eighth-seed South Carolina State Bulldogs 91-55 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday evening at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
The Howard Bison, 19-12 overall and 11-3 conference play, are the 2022-2023 MEAC regular season champions. This is the Bison’s first outright regular season title since 1987. Howard won the MEAC regular season title again in 1992, however, they had to share the honor with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Howard went into the tournament after closing out their regular season by defeating the Norfolk State University Spartans, who have won the previous two MEAC tournaments back to back.
The Bison had three players score in double digits on the evening. Sophomore guard Bryce Harris led the way for the Bison in the matchup as he was responsible for 20 points and 7 rebounds off the bench while shooting 61 percent from the field. Sophomore guard Elijah Hawkins, contributed 10 points to the game. Freshman forward Shy Odom, who was recently named MEAC Rookie Player of the Year, added 13 points and 4 assists in the contest against the Bulldogs.
The Bison led 38-21 at halftime, and continued to stretch their lead early in the second half as they led by as many as 43 points.
South Carolina State University, 5-26 overall and 4-6 in conference play, were led by Junior guard Cameron Jones who scored 14 points off the bench. Sophomore Guard Lesown Hallums added 10 points in the game, but the Bulldogs struggled to shoot from the field as they collectively shot 32.8 percent.
Erik Martin, who has been the head coach since the 2022-2023 season began, experienced his first full season as a head coach after serving as an assistant coach at West Virginia for fifteen years.
Martin shared his thoughts on the game and what he hoped his team would do better during the post-game press conference.
“We lost tonight to the best team in the league, they had a great game plan, but I would have liked to play better,” Martin said. “I thought our guys were ready for this game and to be honest I thought we were going to be too hyped at the beginning of the game, but we settled in. But we can’t turn the ball over and we can’t miss layups,” Martin stated.
The Bulldogs accounted for 20 turnovers throughout the duration of the matchup Wednesday night. The first-year head coach discussed what he learned about this season and how he will approach his team going forward
“I got a lot to learn. I don’t know if it’s arrogance, I am sure that every coach says they can come in and turn this around, but you cannot prepare to be a head coach unless you sit in that seat. Losses will humble you and maybe I needed to be humbled,” Martin said.
The Howard Bison continue to celebrate after they received recognition as the MEAC announced their regular season awards . Head coach Kenneth Blakeney, who has been at the helm since 2019, was named MEAC coach of the year. Blakeney officially becomes the first Howard coach to win Coach of the Year since former head coach Alfred Beard won the award in the 1991-1992 season.