Hampton (0-0) at Wake Forest (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 15th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lawrence Joel Coliseum (14,655) -- Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Hampton 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Away Record: Hampton 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Neutral Record: Hampton 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Conference Record: Hampton 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Series Record: First- ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Hampton will open its new season this evening when the Pirates head to Lawrence Joel Coliseum to battle the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the East Region of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Ed Joyner had some solid moments in his first year at Hampton last season, but by the end of the campaign the Pirates had captured just 14 victories, leaving plenty of room for improvement. Coach Joyner returns a few key players, and there is a strong chance Hampton could finish above .500 on the year.
Jeff Bzdelik's first season at Wake Forest could not have started any worse, as the Deacons dropped their first season-opener since 1993 with a shocking 89-79 setback to Stetson. Last year Wake Forest totaled 20 victories, but most of that team is gone, leaving coach Bzdelik to start from scratch.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams on the hardwood.
The Pirates were nothing more than mediocre last year, finishing with a below .500 overall ledger, and an even mark in conference action. Coach Joyner does open the season with a few returning starters, one being Darrion Pellum. Pellum, is one of the best guards in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and gives the Pirates a pure scoring threat after netting 11.5 ppg as a sophomore. Brandon Tunnell joins Pellum in the backcourt, but the player with the most to prove will be Kwame Morgan II. Morgan was a huge boost off the bench last year for coach Joyner, and will likely be the best option off the bench once again for Hampton. Michael Freeman, who averaged 11.6 ppg and 7.5 rpg last season, is the best option in the paint for Hampton, and he will be joined in the starting lineup by Milade Lola-Charles, who is a big 6-10 center.
If the season-opening performance is any indicator of what type of team Wake Forest will be this year, it could be a long season for coach Bzdelik. The new coach came over to Wake knowing he would have to replace a large amount of talent, but that does not excuse a solid ACC team from losing to Stetson at home. The Demon Deacons looked completely lost defensively, allowing a much weaker school to score 89 points. A big reason for the setback was Wake's lack of physical play, as Stetson won the battle on the glass, 45-33, and that led to an advantage in points scored in the paint for the visiting squad. There were some bright spots in the loss, and one of them was the performance of freshman J.T. Terrell, who erupted for 26 points in his first-ever game. It is rare when a freshman carries a team, but if Wake wants to win a few games this year coach Bzdelik will have to rely on the young guard. Ari Stewart added a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Travis McKie tallied 10 points.
This could be a tough game for Hampton. The Pirates are coming into ACC country and will have to face a team eager to get back on the court and prove its start to the year was a fluke. Hampton might be in for a long night, as the Demon Deacons will certainly bounce back from the loss to Stetson.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wake Forest 88, Hampton 65
11/15 10:38:40 ET