College Basketball Nation: Hampton Pirates

ESPN.com's MEAC preview

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
7:30
PM ET
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:



Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 13 teams in the MEAC: Insider

Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State
Delaware State
Florida A&M
Hampton InsiderFree
Howard
Maryland Eastern Shore
Morgan State
Norfolk State
North Carolina A&T
North Carolina Central
Savannah State
South Carolina State

ESPN.com's MEAC preview

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
8:10
PM ET
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's one-minute wind sprint through the league:



Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 13 teams in the MEAC:

Bethune-Cookman
Coppin State
Delaware State
Florida A&M InsiderFree
Hampton
Howard
Maryland Eastern Shore
Morgan State
Norfolk State
North Carolina A&T
North Carolina Central
Savannah State
South Carolina State

More MEAC content:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was quick to say on the postgame podium that his focus wasn’t on Kyrie Irving, but rather the entire team. That’s how it should be in the NCAA tournament.

But for those at the Time Warner Cable Arena Friday afternoon, the attention was solely on Irving.

And Sunday against Michigan will be no different.

Irving is back and the top-seed in the West suddenly got even tougher to punch out, an almost unheard of proposition during the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

“We’re even more dangerous,’’ said ACC player of the year Nolan Smith. “We’ve just added a player as talented as him [who] can score the ball, and it gives us another weapon.’’

Irving played for the first time since Dec. 4 when he suffered a freak injury on a drive to the basket, tearing ligaments in his right big toe against Butler at the IZOD Center at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. He avoided surgery and had his foot in a cast and then a boot before he wore sneakers again. He practiced for the first time earlier this week after just going through non-contact, shooting drills last week during the ACC tournament in Greensboro.

[+] EnlargeKyrie Irving
Lance King/Icon SMIDuke freshman Kyrie Irving notched 14 points in 20 minutes in his first game since Dec. 4.
Irving paced himself in the first half against Hampton, but didn’t hesitate to look for the openings on the break or hunt for his shot in the second half. He finished with a team-high 14 points in 20 minutes off the bench, making both 3s, all four free-throw attempts and finishing with one assist, two turnovers, two steals and a block in Duke’s 87-45 victory.

“It was a good performance, good to be out there with my teammates,’’ Irving said. “I just wanted to integrate myself into Coach K’s system and fit as well as I could. In the second half, I just had to be more aggressive and Coach said just play my game.’’

His game is to look for the opening in the lane. Granted the competition was the MEAC champ Hampton. But that shouldn’t matter in the assessment. Of course, Michigan will be a tougher opponent Sunday and the openings won’t be as grand. But Irving is finding his comfort zone just as Duke is set to play a potential six-game season.

Remember, Irving was Duke’s leading scorer when he got hurt. He was scoring 17 points per game and lit up Michigan State for 31 on Dec. 1. He would have been a candidate for the freshman and national player of the year awards, let alone ACC player of the year, had he stayed healthy.

Krzyzewski said the Blue Devils were fortunate to get Irving 20 minutes on Friday versus the Pirates. He said that playing with the unit he was on didn’t get in Smith’s way (on the second unit).

“I was really pleased,’’ Krzyzewski said. “I thought he was very confident as it moved along.’’

The Blue Devils were already a No. 1 seed without Irving. But if he can continue to progress this weekend, then they emerge as a favorite, if not slightly ahead of Ohio State and Kansas as the favorites. If Irving can play 25-28 minutes at point guard by next weekend in Anaheim -- assuming the Blue Devils beat Michigan -- then Duke's frontcourt will shine more in a transition game.

“Kyrie helps our team,’’ Duke senior forward Kyle Singler said. “We are a really good team. And now we’ll just have to learn how to play with him again. But he’s easy to play with, and it won’t be too hard.’’

Rapid Reaction: Duke 87, Hampton 45

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
5:58
PM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A No. 1 seed rarely adds a star player to the lineup in the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving played for the first time since tearing the ligaments in his right toe against Butler on Dec. 4.

He didn’t disappoint. Irving entered the game roughly five minutes into each half and ended up playing 20 minutes total, as scripted.

He started with a slower step but then picked up the pace and by the second half, Irving was moving quite well laterally. He took the ball to the hoop for a layup and then hit consecutive 3-pointers. Irving scored a team-high 14 points in top-seeded Duke’s 87-45 victory over No. 16 Hampton.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Irving would play if he proved he was ready. Now, Irving will likely get even more minutes. Having Irving play 20 minutes off the bench gave the Blue Devils a quality bench scorer and a game changer.

Of course, the shots will be tougher against Michigan’s defense. But this was a good first start for integrating Irving back into the lineup.

Key stat: Irving’s 20 minutes, 14 points, one assist, two steals, two turnovers, 4 of 4 from the line, 2 of 2 at the 3-point line and four rebounds.

Turning point: When the seeds were announced. Hampton didn’t have much of a shot against Duke, especially once Irving was cleared to play.

Balance: Duke shared the ball. The Blue Devils had 17 assists on 32 baskets and there was balance all around on the box score.

What’s next: Duke plays Michigan Sunday in the third round with the right to go to the Sweet 16 in Anaheim. There happens to be another subplot since Duke and Michigan have been in the news lately in reference to the two programs in the 1990s.

SPONSORED HEADLINES