NORFOLK, Va. – The last time the Norfolk State men’s basketball program made an overseas trip, the coaching staff used that tour to scout a Spartan team that needed to replace several of its best players. Four years later, NSU again finds itself in a similar situation as the Spartans prepare to head on another summer excursion.
Norfolk State will travel to Costa Rica from Aug. 12-17 and compete in three exhibition games while taking in the sights and sounds of the Central American country as part of an early start to the 2016-17 season. A total of 13 Spartan players, including eight newcomers, will join the coaching staff in making the more than six-hour trek by flight from Norfolk to Costa Rica.
“We wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity to travel during the summer, especially for this new group,” said NSU head coach Robert Jones. “This team will have several newcomers and returnees who are being thrusted into new roles, and this trip will give the coaching staff a first look at possible combinations and lineups. The competition we will receive in Costa Rica will be second to none.”
The Spartans will leave on the morning of Aug. 12 and arrive in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose after making their way through customs. They will play the University of Ottawa on Aug. 13 at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. local time), the Costa Rica Invitational on Aug. 14 at 5 p.m. EST and Brock University on Aug. 15 at 11 a.m. They will fly back on the morning of Aug. 17.
“The University of Ottawa is a top-10 team in Canada year after year and would compare to a mid-major in the U.S.,” said Jones. “The Costa Rican team will have some semi-pro players competing, and Brock University is equivalent to a top NCAA Division II program. Between this fierce competition and the NCAA’s allowed practice time beforehand, we believe this will be very beneficial for the new group of players in order to have a solid upcoming season.”
NSU will spend three nights in San Jose, located in the central part of the country, as well as two nights in Los Suenos, located along the Pacific Ocean. In between arrival and departure days, the Spartans will tour San Jose and visit the Holy Spirit Orphanage and the Crocodile Bridge, home to some of the largest crocodiles in the wild. They will also take a zip line/canopy tour in the Vista Los Suenos Rainforest and relax at the pool and beach during their free time.
Under NCAA rules, teams are allowed to take one foreign trip every four years. Under those same rules, the Spartans are allowed 10 days of practice leading up to their departure. Jones is looking to replace his top three scorers from a year ago in Jeff Short, D’Shon Taylor and Charles Oliver, a trio that combined for 40.6 points per game and more than 54 percent of the team’s overall points on the year.
NSU last went on an overseas trip in the summer of 2012 to the Bahamas, just several months after capturing the MEAC title and defeating Missouri in the NCAA tournament. The Spartans had to replace four of their five starters from that championship team. NSU went on to finish 16-0 in the MEAC in 2012-13 to capture its first regular season title in the league.
Norfolk State is expected to release its full 2016-17 schedule by early next week.