Cat men add SMU transfer, lose assistant

BOZEMAN – Eric Norman, a 6-9, 220 lb forward, has transferred to Montana State from SMU, Bobcat men’s basketball coach Brad Huse announced Monday.

A highly-regarded prep standout who graduated from San Diego’s Francis W. Parker School in 2011, Norman joins the MSU program as a sophomore. He played in five games last season for the Mustangs.

“This is a great addition for our program for a lot of reasons,” Huse said. “He is a great kid and I like that he brings more size to our front line, and since we don’t have much in the way of Division I experience on the front line adding Eric enhances that group. He was heavily recruited out of high school and he is a late bloomer physically, which we will benefit from.”

Norman averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two blocks as a senior, when he earned all-state Division IV honors, also landing first team All-San Diego and first team all-league honors. He averaged 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists as a junior. He helped lead his team to the CIF Division IV Southern California Round of 16 in 2011, the championship game in 2010, and the quarterfinals in 2009.

In addition to adding Norman to the roster on Monday, Huse lost assistant coach George Pfeifer. The coaching veteran resigned from the Bobcat staff to move to Spokane with his wife. “My wife just took a new job in Spokane,” Pfeifer said. “We’ve been doing the long-distance relationship (between Billings and Bozeman), but to be seven hours apart just wouldn’t work. We just celebrated our 30th (wedding) anniversary last week, and she’s been following me around all these years. It’s time for us to switch roles.”

Huse said he accepts and understands Pfeifer’s rationale for relocating. “Like me, George is a family person, and I know being apart this past year was very difficult for them. Our hope was that eventually they would both be here, but it didn’t work out and I’m happy they will once again be together and near a lot of their family members. George did a lot in helping shape this upcoming team and his thumbprint is all over this team as he was actively involved in the recruitment of about half our current players. We appreciate the work George did for Montana State and our basketball program. He was everything I had hoped he’d be.”

Still, Huse said he will miss his long-time friend, who coached with him for the past year at MSU. “George is a close friend of mine and we worked well together. There haven’t been many days that has gone by in the past five or six years where we didn’t talk about basketball and I know that will continue. In a lot of ways it will be nice to have his knowledge of our team and players and still be able to use him as a resource. I wish he and Sue the best moving forward.”

Pfeifer echoed Huse’s sentiments. “I’m really excited about next year’s (MSU) team, and I’ll miss being a part of that,” he said. “Working for Coach Huse was an honor for me, and I’ll miss working with him and Scott (Carson, MSU assistant) and the players this coming year.”

Huse indicated he hoped to have a replacement for Pfeifer within a week, and lauded current assistant Aerick Sanders for helping to bring Norman to Bozeman. “I give a lot of credit to Coach Sanders for the work he did in recruiting Eric,” Huse said. “His background at San Diego State and familiarity and relationships he has with many in San Diego helped us establish an immediate relationship with Eric and his family.”

Norman’s presence on the Bobcat front line is a positive, Huse said. “The makeup of our team has really taken shape,” he said, “and we’re excited about going to work with them when the school year starts.”

 MSU Sports Information