On the road again —
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
— Lyrics from “On The Road Again”
By Monty Franks
COFFEYVILLE, Kan. — After a brief one day stop at home, Northeastern A&M’s Golden Norsemen continue their whirlwind road trip Friday by traveling to Coffeyville, Kan., to open the two-day Jayhawk Shoot-Out.
They face Allen County, Kan., at 9 a.m. in the west gym of Nellis Hall.
Not only are coach Dustin Grover’s Norsemen reeling from the month-long Christmas break and a four-day, 1,376-mile trek to Yuma, Ariz., to start the week, but NEO arrived at the Oklahoma City airport Wednesday evening and made the 200-mile bus trip home — then worked out today in preparation for their “breakfast” game Friday morning with the Allen County Tigers.
After dropping a 77-65 decision to coach Kelly Green’s Arizona Western Matadors on Tuesday, the Norsemen make the 72-mile journey to Coffeyville with a 9-5 season record.
NEO returns to Nellis Hall on Saturday for a 5 p.m. matchup with Independence, Kan. (9-3) in the east gym.
Tickets for the Shoot-Out are available at the door. A three day pass is $22, a day pass is $10 for adults and $4 for students. There are no reserved seats
Coach Mike Hayes returns eight sophomores to Allen County from a team which finished 13-18 last season. Thus far this year, the Red Devils of Iola, Kan., are 6-5 on the year.
Last season, the Golden Norse opened the Shoot-Out with an 82-61 loss to Fort Scott, Kan., before dropping a 78-68 decision to Highland, Kan.
Allen County lost 89-78 to Pratt, Kan., and 69-54 to Dodge City, Kan., in last season’s Jayhawk Shoot-Out.
Averaging 79.8 points per game, the Red Devils are expected to start sophomores Anthony Claggett, Andra Bailey and Gavin Cole at guards.
Claggett (6-1 of Washington, D.C.) averages 11.7 points while leading the team with 61 assists and 24 steals.
Bailey (6-4 of St. Louis, Mo.) is scoring 14.9 points while leading the Devils with a 14.2 rebounding average. He also leads the team with 36 steals while recording 30 assists.
Cole (6-2 of Moran, Kan.) has a 5.5 scoring average with 17 assists and 12 steals.
“We don’t know very much about Allen County, but I do know that coach Hayes does a great job of getting his kids ready to play,” Grover said. “They lost a couple of real close games to Hutchinson, Kan. (71-69) and Northern Oklahoma-Enid (71-63 in overtime), so they’ll be ready to go.”
Sophomores Jamell Cormier, Raphael Brown and Phillipe Martin will comprise the NEO backcourt.
Martin (6-4 of Staten Island, N.Y.) ranks ninth in the nation with a 23.9 scoring average to lead the Norsemen while grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game.
Cormier (6-0 of Stillwater) is scoring 12.1 points per game while leading NEO with 56 assists and 19 steals.
Brown (6-2 of Kansas City, Mo.) averages 9.8 points with 31 assists and eight steals.
Freshman Carlius Lemon and sophomore Andre Coimbra comprise the Golden Norse front court.
“We’ve got to have some more leadership from our sophomores,” Grover said. “After all, we’re coming into this two-day ordeal where fatigue (both mental and physical) could be an issue, so it’s important for our experienced players to step up and produce.”
Starting down low in the blocks for the Red Devils will be freshman Erik Law and sophomore Dennis Rumph.
Law (6-5 of Houston, Texas) averages 12.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
Rumph (6-6 of Boynton, Fla.) leads Allen County with a 15-point scoring mark while grabbing 9.1 rebounds per game and making 19 blocked shots.
Freshman Carlius Lemon and veteran Andre Coimbra will start along the baseline for the Golden Norse.
Lemon (6-3 of Marrero, La.) is averaging 3.1 points and 1.2 rebounds each contest.
Coimbra (6-9 of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) leads NEO in rebounding with a 9.9 average while scoring 6.1 points per game.
“The key to this game will be our stamina,” Grover said. “Not only do we have to travel to Coffeyville two straight days, but on Monday we travel to Poteau for a conference game with Carl Albert.”