MEAC Tournament starts at Norfolk Scope

Fred Jeter | 3/13/2020, 6 a.m.
Since switching from the CIAA to MEAC in 1997, Norfolk State University’s basketball team doesn’t come to the Richmond area ...

Since switching from the CIAA to MEAC in 1997, Norfolk State University’s basketball team doesn’t come to the Richmond area anymore.

But that doesn’t stop Richmond area fans from going to NSU.

Coach Robert Jones’ Spartans will be relying on three athletes from the 804 this weekend when his team plays in the MEAC Tournament at the Norfolk Scope.

NSU is 16-15 overall, 12-4 in MEAC and the tournament’s No. 3 seed. The Spartans will play Coppin State University of Baltimore in the quarterfinals at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 12.

Here’s a look at NSU’s Richmond connection. All hail from outstanding high school programs.

Chris Ford, 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, sopho- more, from Chesterfield’s L.C. Bird High School: He leads the team with 28 blocked shots. He helped L.C. Bird to the 2017 state 5A title.

Tyrese Jenkins, 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, fresh- man, from Henrico’s Varina High School: He made the MEAC All-Rookie team. He also led Varina to the state 5A championship in 2018.

Daryl Anderson, 6-foot-6, 185 pounds, freshman, from Millwood School in Midloth- ian and The Miller School of Albemarle. The newcomer is 14-for-29 beyond the arc and was a recent MEAC Rookie of the Week. He paced The Miller School to the 2019 Virginia Independent Schools state final.

Marquee attraction: While Ford, Jenkins and Anderson form part of the supporting cast, NSU’s leading man is clearly Jermaine Bishop, a first team, All-MEAC pick.

The senior transfer from St. Louis University averages 15.6 points — fourth in MEAC. He is first in the conference in 3-pointers per game (3.2) and second in free throws (84 percent).

Spartans overdue: NSU’s first and only MEAC Tournament title came in 2012. That was the same season NSU, as a No. 15 seed, upset No. 2 Missouri in the NCAA Tournament opening round.

The MEAC Tournament champion receives an automatic invite to the NCAAs. The likely destination will be Dayton, Ohio, for the NCAA "First Four."

Should NSU fall short at the Scope, the Spartans still may qualify for the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT, or for the Collegeinsider.com Tournament, known as the CIT.

Since becoming part of the NCAA Division I, NSU has been to one NCAA Tournament (2012), two NIT tournaments (2013 and 2019) and four CIT tournaments (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017).

A downside to leaving the CIAA is losing longtime CIAA rivals Virginia Union and Virginia State universities.

For decades, the NSU “Green and the Gold” was a top attraction on annual trips to the 804. Also, the Spartans played in CIAA tournaments at the Richmond Coliseum in 1986 and 1987 and 1991, 1992 and 1993.