Pirates Looking To Recreate History

Hampton is the decided underdog against the Blue Devils. But that's nothing new, and was the case a decade ago when NCAA highlight footage was born.

You see it each and every year in the NCAA Tournament.

The Hampton Pirates upsetting second seeded Iowa State and then storming the court. In the middle of the celebration the camera catches then Pirate coach, Steve Merfeld, being hoisted into the air by his players as his team became just the fourth 15 seed to win a tournament game.

Now the Pirates will look to surpass their greatest moment on the national stage and take down #1 seed Duke on Friday in Charlotte. No 16 seed has ever won a game in the NCAA Tournament, and the odds don't seem to favor the Pirates' chances this year.

But don't tell head coach Buck Joyner that. The second year Pirate captain has his team believing in miracles. After all the program has a history of magic in March.

It was just over 10 years ago that a similarly confident Hampton team took the floor against a Cyclone team that was heavily favored after posting a 13-3 Big 12 record and a 25-5 overall mark thanks to NBA ready guard Jamaal Tinsley. But ISU couldn't pull away and eventually the Pirates knocked down a floater from around five feet to take a 58-57 lead with 6.9 seconds to play. Tinsley drove the length of the floor, but the shot didn't go, and the party began.

A decade later and Joyner's program is looking for an encore.

"We're really just excited for the opportunity [to be in the NCAA Tournament], said second year head coach Edward Joyner. "It marks a chance for our program to do something special. It's been 10 years since we made history and we want to put that stamp on our program and show the world what we're capable of."

That's a tall order for a Pirate team that played just one team from the traditional hoops power conferences, and lost. To Wake Forest, the worst team in the ACC. Historically the Pirates run in different circles than the Blue Devils. Hampton has one NCAA Tournament win. Total. Duke has four national titles. The Pirates are just 1-14 against teams currently in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke's senior class has lost 14 ACC games. In their four year careers.

The smart money is certainly on Duke, but the same was probably said when the Cyclones were warming up in Boise opposite of Tinsley and company. And it probably held true when Iowa State used a 19-4 run to take a 46-35 lead midway through the second half. From there the teams would play even basketball up until ISU's Shane Power got free inside for a jam to make it 55-44 with just over seven minutes left.

From there Cinderella's slipper became a perfect fit as the Pirates used a 14-2 run to make history. It is something Joyner remembers well. And something he'll no doubt tell his team in the locker room before each practice and before taking the court in Charlotte Friday.

"If you don't know it, look it up," said Joyner. "10 years ago [we won]. We've got a 50-50 shot of winnign this game [as well]."


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