Nov. 29, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Norrisha Victrum wants to be a sports psychologist or sports therapist, so she has started on a path toward a sports medicine degree at Marshall.
Does thinking like a psychologist or therapist help her with a major responsibility of being a starting point guard as a freshman for the Thundering Herd?
“A little bit,” Victrum said after practice Thursday at the Henderson Center. “But mostly it helps when I get yelled at, I have to take it as a positive and I can’t take it the other way.
“(Assistant) Coach (Caronica) Randle helps me with that a lot. She stays on me, says I’ve ‘got to respond in the right way, we’re depending on you.’”
A year ago, the 5-foot-5 Victrum was in her senior season at Columbia (S.C.) High School, where she averaged 12 points, 8 assists and 5.5 steals as a 2A All-State pick for a state runner-up team. Now, she’s started all five games for new Herd Coach Matt Daniel’s team (3-2) as it goes to Richmond, Ky., to open the EKU Comfort Suites Tournament tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. against Jackson State (1-4).
With a new program and trying to initiate a system of beliefs as well as basketball, isn’t Daniel concerned that putting a freshman at the point might be a bit overwhelming for Victrum?
“Shoot, I’m worried if it’s overwhelming for a senior,” Daniel said. “She’s right in what she says, that her job is getting people in the right places, but the biggest thing – for all of us – is not turning the ball over.”
Victrum said major college basketball hasn’t been intimidating, and she’s already been through a good amount of tumult getting onto the floor for the Herd.
She said her only other offer last year was from in-state Division II Francis Marion, but she “wanted to get away.” She signed with former Herd Coach Royce Chadwick, who resigned after last season, but she said MU’s sports medicine program was as big a part of her decision-making as hoops.
Then, Daniel arrived and she wondered about whether she’d fit into his “Home of Higher Hoops.”
“First, I committed with Coach Chadwick, and then I heard they were leaving, and I talked it over with my parents,” Victrum said. “So, it was like ‘He’s new, you’re new, this is an opportunity for you.’
“At first I was kind of shaken by it, but I did background work on Coach, just as I’m sure he did background work on me. I saw he was a good coach with success (at Central Arkansas). Everything happens for a reason, so I felt like I’d signed here because I needed to be here and I wanted to be here.”
Victrum is called “ReRe” by coaches and teammates, and has been known by that nickname since she was age 8, when she said her soccer coach “couldn’t pronounce my real name.” Norrisha comes from a grandfather whose first name is Norris.
She is one of only two freshmen on Daniel’s 10-player roster in 2012-13.
“Intimidating, no,” she said of starting at the point as a college rookie. “But it can be a little bit of pressure. My goal was to come in, work hard, try to get a starting spot. I’ve always worked hard, but this is what I wanted. It’s kind of tough at times, but this is what I wanted.
“My job is to get everybody in their positions, take control of the game, be strong, get everybody in the right places, spacing. If they don’t know, make sure they do know. I’m the quarterback, so I’ve got to know everybody’s position, where they’re supposed to go, what they’re supposed to do.”
Victrum is averaging 7.6 points and 2.8 assists, but she knows her primary focus is to cut down on turnovers. She has 17 (to 14 assists), and Daniel’s team is averaging 19 turnovers per game.
“I was a point guard in high school,” she said, “but this is different. My role here is to get everybody else involved. My points don’t matter. Their points matter. In high school I was a scorer, but in college, I want others to score. Their scoring is my responsibility.
“The competition was way more than in high school. Back there, I’d just come down the court and do what I wanted to do, but now, I’ve got to really protect the ball, do things like stay over the ball, execute, in high school we didn’t run that many plays. Here, we do.”
Off the floor, Victrum is enthused about the future at Marshall, hoping she can get involved in her major before graduation in the Sports Medicine Translational Research Center that will be made possible with other new facilities through the $30 million Vision Campaign.
She’s getting a lot of on-court guidance from Randle – “She’s my ‘away mom,’ I call her,” Victrum said. Randle is part of one of the nation’s youngest women’s basketball coaching staffs, so youth in important positions doesn’t seem to faze the new Herd head coach, either.
“It absolutely is,” Daniel said when asked if starting a freshman at the point is difficult in trying to install a new system and concepts. “It makes it more difficult for everybody. Not only are our veterans who have been part of Marshall’s program trying to learn a new system, but they’re relying on a freshman to do so many things.
“It affects the style of coaching; it affects the style of play. Not that ReRe understands all of that at this point, nor should she, but I don’t even know that the rest of our players understand all that is going on. But it’s reality and I’m fine with that. I have no problem playing youth.
“At Central Arkansas, we had the youngest team in the country, and that’s the team we flipped (fortunes, from 20 losses to 20 wins) with, so playing freshmen doesn’t really bother me. I want to take care of the ball, no matter who’s running the point. I want someone who can get us into what we need to get into.
ReRe has played only five games, so she’s learning and getting on the job training, and that will surely benefit us in years to come.”
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Marshall will play its second day in the Comfort Suites Tournament on Saturday, win or lose, against host Eastern Kentucky (3-3) or Presbyterian (4-3). Those teams meet in today’s other semifinal. EKU will play the 4:30 p.m. game Saturday, win or lose, so the Herd could play in that one or at 2 p.m. against Presbyterian.
Daniel’s team then faces West Virginia in the women’s Capital Classic game Tuesday night at 7 at the Charleston Civic Center. The Mountaineers (3-2) play at Virginia on Sunday afternoon before facing the Herd.
Marshall visits Southern Illinois on Dec. 8 before coming home to the Henderson Center for three games in eight days, starting with a Dec. 15 game against rival Ohio. All three of those home games tip at 2 p.m.