On Saturday Hampton clinched an automatic bid with a 21-point win over Delaware State in the MEAC tourney title game. The Hornets swept the Pirates twice in February but lost the match-up that counted to give Hampton its 1st tourney berth since 2011. Earlier today Jon Teitel got to speak with Brian Darden about making the NCAA tourney despite having a losing record.
You began your career at Radford: why did you leave, and what made you choose the Pirates? I had to sit out my second semester after becoming ineligible so I came home to get situated while surrounded by my support system. My family is from Hampton so it was a great fit for me and allowed to me to have a new beginning.
In November 2011 you scored seven points for Radford in a loss to a Kentucky team that went on to win the 2012 NCAA tourney: where does that Wildcat team rank among the best you have ever seen, and how do you think they compare to this year’s undefeated version? I think this year’s team might be a little better because they are stronger at every position and definitely bigger.
In the 2014 CBI you scored 22 points (4-6 3PM) in a 4-point loss to Penn State: what is the biggest difference between the regular season and the postseason? There is not as much pressure in the postseason because it does not affect your conference record, but I look at it as a big opportunity to play a high-major team.
You had a pair of road losses to Iowa/North Dakota State back in November: what did you learn from playing those two tourney teams that you think can help you this week? It just showed me the kind of team we will be going up against in the tourney. Iowa has great big men who can run the floor (especially Aaron White) so it was an eye-opener early in the season but now we are ready for it.
You had a record of 12-17 last week before winning four straight games in the conference tourney: how was your team able to turn things around? We knew that once the regular season was over we had a chance to make a new start in the tourney. Four games is a lot so we just kept our bodies right by icing after the game and staying together on the court.
You scored 20 points on Saturday in a win over Delaware State: how were you able to win the title despite having a losing record, and what was the reaction like when you got back to campus? We were able to win because we were so supportive of each other and would push each other to win and just kept fighting. We have not had the selection party yet, but I did not realize how many alums live in the area because we have gotten a lot of love and support.
Deron Powers was named conference tourney MVP: how crucial is he to your team’s success? He is the point guard who works as our floor general and he played exceptionally well throughout the year. It was a great award for him that he deserved because he gave it his all every game.
You play for Coach Ed Joyner: what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing you ever learned from him? He is so cool: he teaches us about life rather than just basketball and has helped build our character.
What kind of seed do you think you deserve, and what kind of seed do you think you will get? I think we deserve a 14 or 15, but I think we will get a 15 or 16 seed. I do not think it matters: I am just ready to play whatever opponent we get.