MEAC Season preview: What’s expected for the upcoming HBCU basketball season

(Baltimore Times online)
(Baltimore Times online)

Bakari Clemmons | Staff Writer

Hampton University’s men’s basketball team, the reigning men’s basketball Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Champions, will start the 2015-16 season on November 14 against Winthrop in South Carolina, while the Lady Pirates will begin playing on November 13 against Iowa State in Iowa.

Both teams are coming off of successful seasons and are ready to make a statement. The MEAC projected both to place second in the conference in a poll voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.

The Pirates (17-18 overall in ‘14-’15) lost key players in guard Deron Powers, center Emmanuel Okoroba and forward Dwight Meikle, but will return this year with much of the same team.

Graduate student Quinton Chievous was named a Preseason All-MEAC First Team selection. He averaged 10.6 points and 6.5 boards last season and had an outstanding performance against the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Senior guard Brian Darden was named Second Team All-MEAC after hitting 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers in 2014-15 and senior center Jervon Pressley was named Third Team All-MEAC. Pressley was also seventh in the MEAC with 1.4 blocked shots per game.

Head coach Edward Joyner, the 2015 HBCU Digest Male Coach of the Year, is excited to get this season started. “We have a lot of veterans returning to the squad. They came in real hungry this year, so we think they’ll be able to compete for a championship again,” he said. “We have real high hopes for the season.”

The Lady Pirates (19-13 overall in ‘14-’15) also lost some key figures on their team. They lost starter-caliber talent in guards Kenia Cole and Kyani White, and forwards Brielle Ward and Tyler Hobgood, but are bringing back Malia Tate-DeFreitas, who’s entering her third season.

In addition to Tate-Defreitas, Ryan Jordan and Kayla Lupoe, who are set to be leaders of this young team, are also returning.

Assistant Coach Brian Davis affirmed that the rotation will increase to 10 and that the freshmen involvement will be crucial. “We are going to be a little bit young this year…we always play a hard out of conference schedule to prepare us for our conference play. But we just want to progressively get better each week, each day, each game,” said Davis. “We want to be good at the end.”

Tate-DeFreitas was named MEAC Preseason Player of the Year. She averaged 21.3 points last season and was named MEAC Player of the Year.

She also led the conference and ranked 14th in the nation in scoring. Tate-DeFreitas has 1,277 career points in two seasons at Hampton and is looking to pass the 2,000 mark this season.

Tate-DeFreitas was also named to the Preseason First Team and Jordan was named to the Preseason Third Team. The Lady Pirates won the MEAC regular season title last year for the fifth straight time and advanced to the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

Coach Davis and head coach David Six are both heading into their seventh year as Hampton women’s basketball coaches. The success they have had is incredible and they continue to keep the same winning tradition.

Coach Davis expressed, “Each team is different, but the one thing that doesn’t change is our formula. We play tough defense…The MEAC is changing into a more guard oriented league.” Davis added, “We are adjusting to that with our personnel and with our guards we’re going to be right there at the top of conference.”

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