BOGACZYK: Resilient Victrum Bouncing Back for Herd Finish
The Word on the Herd-July 26, 2015
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – For Norrisha Victrum, it was a veritable knee to the gut.
The 5-foot-5 Victrum had lifted her game – and that of Marshall women’s basketball late in February. After back-to-back 20-loss seasons in her first two seasons with the Herd, the point guard had Coach Matt Daniel’s club pointed toward 20 wins.
Then, in the first half of a Feb. 26 loss at FIU, Victrum – known as “ReRe” to her coaches and teammates suffered a complete tear of her right anterior cruciate ligament. And even though the Herd wasn’t done for the season, she was.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Victrum, who is now well on her way to being ready for her senior season in 2015-16. “But knowing that I couldn’t play and I knew my team was going to need me, I knew I just had to stay strong and continue to be there for them.
“Whether it was cheering, keeping them up when they were down … I could do something else other than being on the court. It was something I had to do.”
The Herd won that game at FIU to reach 16-10, but without Victrum lost the next four -- including a first-round Conference USA Tournament defeat to Charlotte. At 16-14, Marshall still managed to land a bid to the Women’s Basketball Invitational, the program’s first postseason berth since a 1997 NCAA Tournament first-round loss at Colorado.
Without the team’s floor leader and a player who has started 78 of her 86 MU games, the 20-win potential evaporated.
“Yeah,” said Victrum, of Columbia, S.C., “but, you know, every team has adversity, as Coach Daniel would say. I looked at it as someone else had the opportunity to grow and get a chance and that would help us.”
A month after her injury, Victrum underwent surgery and now she’s well into the rehab phase. After averaging 10.4 points and 3.5 assists per game, she’s pushing toward a final season as one of two returning Herd starts, along with senior forward Leah Scott – the team’s scoring leader and an all-C-USA second team pick.
“I’d say I’m about 80 percent (back) now, but I’m bouncing back pretty good,” Victrum said. “I ran a mile (Wednesday) and it was really good for the first time running like that. I’m doing a lot of conditioning, able to shoot, getting back in the swing of things.
“The physical part is more difficult than the mental, just trying to get back into shape. I played a lot of minutes (34.2 per game, tied for fourth in C-USA with teammate Scott), so it’s just getting back into shape, to where I want to be.
“I had to get strong ever since I was hurt because I knew I couldn’t have a negative mindset, or be down on myself because it would prevent me from getting back again to where I want to be.”
Daniel’s team lost three seniors – starters Chukwuka Ezeigbo, Aja Sorrells and AJ Johnson – and in particular Ezeigbo will be missed because of her strong inside presence and rebounding. However, Daniel’s deep recruiting class – ranked No. 52 nationally last November – and transfer newcomers Talequia Hamilton and Taylor Porter create a 16-player roster.
The 21-year-old Victrum, meanwhile, remains the only player in the program who was signed before Daniel’s hire, by former Coach Royce Chadwick. The point guard said the Herd’s WBI experience – a win at top-seeded Northern Kentucky and two-point loss at Mercer – fuels Marshall going forward.
“It was really big, because I’d never been part of a winning season at Marshall, so it felt good,” Victrum said. “This is what Coach Daniel and I had been waiting for, because we came in together, and I kind of felt like for Coach Daniel, it showed his plan worked and we had it going.
“At first, when they told me Coach Chadwick wasn’t going to be here anymore, I kind of had second thoughts about coming up here. But when I talked to my dad and my grandmother, they told me to give it a try, that everything happens for a reason, so if I didn’t like it after the first year, I could leave.
“But after my freshman year I thought I was in a good position, and I liked it, with a good educational program. So, I stuck it out.”
Victrum, majoring in business with a minor in sports studies, is on schedule to graduate next May. That’s big for her, since she will be the first person in her immediate family with a college degree, which she says “will open doors for me.”
On the floor, Victrum knows her contribution will need to be about more than points and assists. After all, she’s the only Herd player with more than two seasons in the program.
“I see my role as basically what I have been doing -- just helping others, especially with the (eight) freshmen and other newcomers,” Victrum said. “When I see them down, try to be there, have my hand out. I’ve been here, going into my fourth year so I kind of know how Coach Daniel is, the ins and outs, so I try to help them with anything they need … be there for them, because I know how it can get for them.
“I feel like I want to be there for the newcomers because when I first came in, I didn’t have that because some of the older people got kicked off the team when I first got here. So, I didn’t have what I’m trying to give to the freshmen now.
“I had the coaches, and that helped, but it’s always good to have something from your teammates, from players. So, I’m trying to give them something that wasn’t there when I came in.”
Daniel, entering his fourth season with his point guard, sees Victrum’s play and leadership as a major ingredient in the Herd taking another step on the road to greater success.
“We’ll be thankful to have Norrisha back from her injury,” Daniel said. “She continues to mature into a young woman who can have a bright future, and I am very proud of her going to be the first person in her family to graduate college.
“And I am very happy that she will have done it from Marshall.”