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

Oct 6, 2013, 11:00 AM EST

source:

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