MEAC champion Hampton will be Manhattan's first NCAA Tournament foe, as Pirates meet Jaspers in Dayton Tuesday evening. (Photo courtesy of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference)
Greg Gumbel wasted little time in revealing how the 2015 NCAA Tournament would start for Manhattan, announcing their initial draw would be the Pirates of Hampton University, the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, in a First Four matchup Tuesday night at 6:40 p.m., with Brian Anderson, Steve Smith, and Lewis Johnson on the call for Tru TV from UD Arena in Dayton.
Should the Jaspers win, they will advance to meet undefeated Kentucky on Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, but first, the two-time reigning MAAC champions are focused on the task at hand, stopping Hampton.
To help get to know the Pirates a little better, here's a closer look at Hampton, starting with some background information before profiling their roster:
Location: Hampton, Virginia
Head Coach: Edward "Buck" Joyner (6th season, 98-95)
Miscellaneous Facts about Hampton:
- The Pirates are no strangers to NCAA Tournament upsets, having scored one in 2001 as a No. 15 seed against No. 2 seed Iowa State with a 58-57 victory over the Cyclones in what was their NCAA Tournament debut.
- At the time, Hampton was just the fourth No. 15 seed to win an NCAA Tournament game; joining Richmond, Santa Clara and Coppin State, but three more (Norfolk State, Lehigh and Florida Gulf Coast) have since followed.
- Former Detroit Pistons "Bad Boy" and longtime NBA veteran Rick Mahorn is the Pirates' all-time leading scorer, amassing 2,418 points in his tenure at Hampton, the only 2,000-point scorer in school history.
- Famous Hampton alumni include Booker T. Washington, meteorologist Spencer Christian, former "SportsCenter" and current "Entertainment Tonight" anchor Kevin Frazier, comedienne Wanda Sykes, and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Justin Durant.
- Athletic director Eugene Marshall has experience in the MAAC, having served as the director of athletics at Manhattan's rival, Iona College, from 2011 to 2013.
- This is the Pirates' fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and first since 2011, when they also won the MEAC. Hampton was defeated in the Round of 64 by Duke, falling to the Blue Devils by the final of 87-45.
G: Deron Powers (5-11 Jr., Williamsburg, Va.: 10.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 39% FG, 85% FT, 34% 3pt FG) - Averaging 16.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 4.1 APG over his last seven games.
G: Brian Darden (6-2 Jr., Hampton, Va.: 9.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 36% FG, 84% FT, 36% 3pt FG) - 66 of his 88 field goals this season are three-point field goals, including six in a 93-65 win over Morgan State on February 16 where he scored a career-high 23 points. Also scored 20 in the Pirates' 82-61 MEAC championship win over Delaware State this last Saturday.
G: Reginald Johnson (6-2 Jr., Chicago, Ill.: 11.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 38% FG, 59% FT, 35% 3pt FG) - Transfer from Miami University who became eligible in the second semester. Missed the first nine games, but has found his best stride as of late, averaging 15.4 PPG over his last five contests.
G: Quinton Chievous (6-6 Gr., Chicago, Ill.: 10.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 43% FG, 61% FT, 25% 3pt FG) - Graduate transfer from Tennessee who is an undersized four. Posted 23 points and 16 rebounds in MEAC semifinal victory over Norfolk State, but has been largely erratic since conference play resumed. Had only scored a grand total of 14 points in four games prior to Norfolk State, and only scored five in championship win over Delaware State.
F: Jervon Pressley (6-8 Jr., Charlotte, NC: 6.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 43% FG, 55% FT) - The likely matchup to Ashton Pankey in the paint who has been hampered by foul trouble more often than not. Has picked up at least three personal fouls in 10 of his last 12 games.
F: Dwight Meikle (6-8 Jr., Baltimore, Md.: 13.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 52% FG, 68% FT, 30% 3pt FG) - Pirates' leading scorer and rebounder, a high-percentage shooter who has been held under 50 percent from the field just seven times this season. Missed last three games with an ankle injury and is rumored to be questionable for Tuesday's game as well, although nothing has been confirmed. At one time, Meikle was a verbal commitment to St. John's, as he was part of a package with prep school teammate Sir'Dominic Pointer coming out of Quality Education Academy in North Carolina.
G: Ke'Ron Brown (6-3 Jr., Savannah, Ga.: 4.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 33% FG, 50% FT, 15% 3pt FG) - Has been coming off the bench since returning to lineup on February 21, and has made more of an impact on the defensive end recently, with 13 steals in his last six games. Usually not much of a shooter, as he has not attempted more than nine shots in a game this season.
F: Emmanuel Okoroba (6-8 Sr., Garland, Tex.: 2.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 32% FG, 56% FT) - First forward off the bench should Meikle be unavailable, essentially serving as a body down low more so than as a scorer.
PPG: 67.2 (Opponent: 68.0)
RPG: 37.1 (Opponent: 36.2)
APG: 10.6 (Opponent 10.2)
TO: 14.2 (Opponent: 14.0)
FG%: .408 (Opponent: .413)
FT%: .652 (Opponent: .687)
FTA (per game): 24.3 (Opponent: 25.1)
3pt FG%: .304 (Opponent: .344)
Other Nuggets of Note
- Have won 8 of their last 11 since dropping six straight from January 17 - February 2.
- Faced three opponents from "Power 5" conferences this season, losing 90-56 at Iowa on November 14, 65-47 at Syracuse November 16, and 73-55 at Illinois December 17.
- This will be the third meeting between Hampton and Manhattan. The Jaspers have won both prior games against the Pirates, the most recent of which was a 73-61 victory at Draddy Gymnasium on December 1, 1996.