NORFOLK, Va. - Inside Echols Hall, home of Norfolk State basketball, it's hard to miss the fancy new video scoreboard. But even it would have trouble keeping a tally of all the hurdles put in front of this season's Spartans.
"I've never been around a season like this one," admitted NSU head men's basketball coach Robert Jones. "It`s almost turning comical in some aspects."
If it's true sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying, then that noise you hear coming from the NSU locker room is giggling, howling and thigh slapping.
"This is one of my toughest seasons, team wise," explained Spartans guard Jonathan Wade. "The ups and downs - the people we're losing."
"We had five guys with food poisoning, recently we had a ruptured disk, a broken foot, a fractured rib," explained Jones, who joked "Doctor Jones" is more appropriate than "Coach Jones" this season.
His team is so depleted, in order to scrimmage five-on-five, a team manager has to play. And over the weekend, the season of snowballing issues was dealt ... snowballs. Our area's winter storm postponed a pair of Spartans games, including their conference home opener.
"When we get into the real world, life is not always going to be perfect and work out how we want it," noted Wade.
"That's what we're learning from this," NSU guard Kyle Williams added. "Not just from a basketball standpoint - but from a life standpoint."
But just as the snow will melt, allowing Hampton Roads to thaw out - Norfolk State sees warmer, brighter and better days ahead.
"We haven't lost our faith, we haven't lost our belief, we haven't lost our toughness," Wade said. "We're going to continue to believe in our main goal."
"The basketball Gods must have something nice in store for us with everything they've put us through this season," Coach Jones said smiling.
The Spartans feel they're due, because yes - they've been keeping score.