Featuring a starting lineup with four sophomores and a freshman, Northeastern A&M's Golden Norsemen open the basketball season Saturday with a 4 p.m. contest against the Oklahoma Baptist University JV in the Student Activities Center.
Both the Golden Norsemen and Lady Norse will play all their home games in the SAC after the July 4 flood destroyed the NEO Fieldhouse.
Renovation of the facility has started, but it won't be completed until the spring.
“We're going into this game completely blind,” Golden Norse head coach Darin Grover said. “We don't know what to expect because it is a junior varsity team. They probably don't even know what to expect because they've only practiced together a few times.”
Last season the Golden Norsemen opened the year with a 108-74 victory over the St. Gregory's University JV.
The Norsemen finished with a 16-15 overall record.
“I would just as soon not be playing a junior varsity team because of all the uncertainty involved,” Grover said. “But, we needed a game to fill out our schedule of 30 games and OBU was kind enough to oblige.”
The game was originally scheduled for Monday, but a scheduling conflict forced a change in dates.
“We seven sophomores on our roster, believe we have 10 guys that can all factor in on a nightly basis,” Grover said. “One thing that we've established already is the roles each player must assume.”
Grover said the player rotation would change considerably the first couple of games.
“Even though I can't you who will start from game-to-game, I do know that our top eight is pretty well set in stone,” he said. “Hopefully, by the seventh game we'll have a set starting lineup. Then, we'll have two or three guys that will sub in regularly.”
“Trying to get all these sophomores to mesh together is our primary objective,” Grover said. “We've determined who will shoot, but we haven't determined how many times each guy will take a shot.”
Battling for the starting point guard position are freshmen Brent Leduff (5-10 of Baton Rouge, La.) and Chase Elliott (6-2 of Bristow).
Providing depth at the point are freshmen Jaren English (5-9 of Keller, Texas) and Sam Brown (6-2 of Little Rock, Ark.).
Returning at the shooting guard spot are sophomores Dominique Gaines and Delawn Armwood.
Gaines (6-2 of Muskogee) earned all Bi-State Conference and Region II first-team honors last year. He led the team in scoring with an 18.5 average while grabbing 4.1 rebounds per game with 84 assists and 43 steals.
Armwood (6-2 of Mount Olive, N.C.) transferred to NEO after one season at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. He averaged 4.2 points and 2.1 rebounds with 28 assists and 16 steals in 29 games as a freshman.
Freshmen Ross Moore (6-0 of Bartlesville) and Chaz Davis (6-2 of New York City) provide depth on the perimeter.
Veteran Reggie Mathis (6-3 of Jenks) returns to the 3 (small forward) spot. Mathis averaged 8.1 points and 3.5 rebounds last season.
Freshmen Lionel Green (6-4 of New Orleans, La.) and Kierre Skerritt (6-4 of Tulsa Memorial) could see action at the 3.
After a year's absence, sophomore Cicero Gonzaga (6-7 of Santa Luzia, Brazil) returns to the 4 (power forward) spot for the Golden Norse. Through 27 games in the 2005-06 season, Gonzaga averaged 9.7 points and 3.9 rebounds with 20 assists and 18 steals.
Transfer Kenneth Clayton, Jr. (6-7 of Houston, Texas) should see considerable playing time either at the 4 spot or at center.
Last season in 30 games at Paris (Texas) Junior College, Clayton averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Anchoring the post position are sophomores Tulio Cobos and Bruno Neves.
Cobos (6-5 of Los Teques, Venezuela) averaged 14.2 points while leading the Norsemen with an 8.8 rebounding mark.
Neve (6-8 of Londrina, Brazil) was a medical redshirt last season after a rash of injuries.
The Golden Norsemen remain at home next Tuesday to host intrastate rival Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. Coach Jim Rowland's 18th ranked Lady Norse open the season at 6 p.m. against the 22nd rated Lady Ravens followed by the Golden Norse facing coach Jay Herkelman's 3rd-ranked Red Ravens at 8 p.m.
Tickets at the door at $6 per person and $3 for senior citizens and students. All seats are general admission.