Long-time Spartan basketball fixture Larry Vickers enters his third full season as the head women’s basketball coach at Norfolk State University in 2018-19.
Norfolk State’s upward trajectory continued under Vickers in 2017-18. The Spartans posted an 18-11 record, including an 11-5 mark in MEAC play. The 2017-18 campaign marked the first winning season since 2001-02, and the 18 wins were the third-most in the program’s Division-I history.
NSU’s trademark defense once again constricted opponents in 2017-18. The Spartans set numerous D-I program records while holding competition to 56.2 points per game on 32.8-percent shooting, including 26.8-percent from 3-point range. Norfolk State topped the MEAC and ranked 18th nationally in scoring defense, while its field-goal percentage defense was the third-best in D-I.
The Spartans blocked 213 shots in 2017-18, the fifth-most nationally and the most in program history. NSU averaged 7.3 blocks per game behind the historic efforts of Khadedra Croker. Croker set the single-season program record with 93 rejections and ranked third nationally with 3.4 rejections per game. Norfolk State recorded 10 or more blocks seven times, including a 14-block performance in the season opener at VCU.
On Dec. 18, Vickers coached NSU to a 53-27 win over Campbell, allowing the fewest points in the Spartans’ D-I history. That victory came in the midst of a nine-game winning streak, the longest such streak in the Spartans’ D-I history.
Under Vickers’ guidance, senior Kayla Roberts earned first team All-MEAC honors as well as recognition as a BOXTOROW D-I Second Team All-American. In addition, Armani Franklin received a spot on the MEAC’s All-Rookie team.
Vickers led the Spartans to a 10-1/2 game turnaround in 2016-17, which tied for the eighth-best improvement in Division-I that season. In addition, Norfolk State’s 12-win improvement was the largest single-season increase in program history. The Spartans went 15-15 and 9-7 in conference to tie for the third-most victories in the D-I era, recorded their first .500-or-better season since 2001-02 and posted a winning record in MEAC play for just the fourth time ever.
Norfolk State led a stifling defense to success in 2016-17. Vickers’ squad ranked third in the MEAC in scoring defense, allowing just 57.8 points per game, and held opponents to 33.4 percent shooting, the third-lowest mark in all of D-I. The Spartans blocked 178 shots, the most in the program’s D-I era and the second most in team history, and led the MEAC with 5.9 rejections per game. Nationally, Norfolk State ranked sixth in blocked shots per game and 19th in total blocks.
Vickers coached two All-MEAC honorees in 2016-17 in first-team selection Kayla Roberts and third-team member Jordan Strode. Additionally, seven Spartans were named to the MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic team.
Vickers served as interim head coach of the NSU women for the final 11 games of the 2015-16 season and led the team to its only three victories of the season, leading to him being named to the permanent head coaching post following the campaign.
Prior to taking over the women’s program, Vickers spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Norfolk State men’s basketball program. He served the last three as the associate head coach, including the final year in 2015-16 when he took over the women’s program in mid-January. Vickers also held the title of recruiting coordinator for the program.
The Spartan men’s basketball team made five of its six Division I postseason appearances to date with Vickers on the bench. The Spartans played in three CollegeInsider.com tournaments, the 2013 NIT and the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Spartans also advanced to the semifinals of the MEAC Tournament six times during Vickers’ eight years coaching in the program.
Norfolk State had an all-conference forward or center seven straight years, including Kyle O’Quinn in 2009-10 (second team) and 2010-11 and 2011-12 (first team), Rob Johnson (third team) and RaShid Gaston (all-rookie team) in 2012-13, Brandon Goode (third team) in 2013-14, Jordan Butler in 2014-15 and Alex Long in 2015-16 (all-rookie). O’Quinn was a two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and the 2012 MEAC Player of the Year before being selected in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft.
During his first five years as an assistant coach, Vickers served as the program’s primary defensive coach. The Spartans ranked in the top four in the MEAC in blocked shots three straight years as well as third in 3-point field goal defense for two straight seasons. NSU also led the MEAC in blocks in 2014-15.
Vickers also played a key part in NSU’s improved academic performance and APR turnaround. In 2010, the program was recognized for improving its APR score by 129 points during a three-year period, and in 2011 the Spartans were recognized by Fox Sports for having the 11th-best APR improvement.
The 6-9 Vickers walked onto the NSU team during the 2004-05 season. He quickly earned playing time and was a noted defensive player during his career with the Spartans. A two-time member of the MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Team, Vickers was named the Spartans’ Most Improved Player as a sophomore in 2005-06 and was also a team captain.
Vickers earned his bachelor’s degree in electronic technology in 2007. He has taken courses toward his master’s in urban education at NSU. He graduated from Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach.
Vickers is the proud father of five-year-old Elle Christian Vickers.