Norman grasping role as lone hoops senior
This past year, the NAU men’s basketball team had veteran leadership with five seniors on the roster.
This season, the team welcomes eight new faces and has nine underclassmen on the roster. Not only are there a plethora of freshman and sophomores on the team, but there is only one senior on the team – Durrell Norman.
“Normally you do not see that on a college roster,” said head coach Mike Adras. “But that is the way it is this year and we are looking at Durrell to help lead this team.”
Even though it is rare to see only one senior on a college roster, it is not the first time this has happened to the Jacks. Two years ago, forward Nick Larson was the only senior in the program before joining the football team and becoming NAU’s tight end.
Norman’s campus experience has been substantially shorter than most. The swingman, originally from Victorville, Calif., was a junior college transfer from Irvine Valley College. None of the players from the ’07–’08 freshman class remain on the NAU roster.
“Durrell is the only senior remaining on the team because he committed to the program and worked very hard to be on the team,” Adras said.
Norman realizes that the roster turnover has altered his role on the team, placing him in a leadership position.
“It is a lot different for me than last year,” Norman said. “Last year I was used to going to someone asking for help. This year, teammates are coming to me asking for help.”
The Lumberjacks only have three players with substantial game experience – Norman and junior guards Stallon Saldivar and Gabe Rogers; however, Rogers is out with an injury, forcing Norman to take on the responsibility.
“With Gabe out, that even puts more pressure on me to help lead this team and bring the young guys along,” Norman said.
On the court, you may not hear Norman screaming and yelling at teammates trying to get them motivated, but instead setting an example on the hardwood.
“I’m not a rah-rah type of guy,” Norman said. “I would like to show my leadership by working hard and my work ethic can leadership do the talking. I leave the talking to Stallon.”
Saldivar, the Lumberjacks’ point guard, is currently the only other player on the roster with a year of experience. The junior from Utah has also been leading this team on the court, joining Norman to take the reigns.
“Me and Durrell have to step up this year as leaders of this team,” Saldivar said. “We are the ones with game experience and we have to lead this team.”
Adras relies on his veterans to help lead the team. With so many road games early in the season against big schools, Norman and Saldivar have been the ones who have road experience as well.
“Just because your are a senior does not mean that you are a leader,” Adras said. “There are two type of leaders, ones who lead by example and ones who get in their teammates face. I need to figure out what type of leader Durrell is.”
This season, the Lumberjacks will have only one player that will be graduating, but before he walks, he will first have to lead his team to the postseason.