Freeman Has Spartans On The Rise

By Richard Kent
Updated: December 19, 2004

Dwight Freeman
Dwight Freeman

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — It has been a long time since Bobby Dandridge was pounding the hardwood at Norfolk State. A long time since the great 23-4 season of 1996-97. Since then, records have sounded more like 12-16, 12-17 and 10-19.

Things may be changing quickly for the Spartans. That change will be under head coach Dwight Freeman. The former Miami assistant in in his third season, has led his team to consecutive winning seasons in the MEAC.

Freeman doesn’t shy away from a tough schedule either. He’s replaced the likes of St. Francis, Missouri-KC and Bucknell with Clemson, Rutgers, Georgetown and Miami..All in a row and all on the road.

Freeman was able to pry top New Jersey frosh Tony Murphy from many Eastern powers. The Paterson star was North Jersey Player of the Year last year.

Murphy recently showed up at the Rutgers Athletic Center to play against a tough Scarlet Knights squad before over 5,000 fans. Many of those in attendance were rooting for him and Murphy didn’t disappoint.

Neither did the Spartans despite in a narrow loss to the Big East foe. The Knights only led by 3 with a minute to go and shot 1-of-24 from three point land.

And consider that Rutgers with Ricky Shields, Quincy Douby and Marquis Webb are among the top shooters in the country. A lot of the Scarlet shooting woes came from the tough Norfolk State defense. The Spartans rarely didn’t have hands in the faces of the top Rutgers shooters.

After the game, the rim heights of the Rutgers baskets were actually measured by a technician. Kind of like what All-American and former Knick Bill Bradley used to do in the old days at Princeton.
The fine effort by Norfolk State is largely attributable to Freeman and his scheduling philosophy.Play the toughest. Play them on the road and we will be ready for the MEAC. And probably in due time, the NCAA Tournament