Hampton basketball: A collect call to Jesus before playing Kentucky

Hampton head coach Ed Joyner. Photo Credit: Hampton Athletics
Hampton head coach Ed Joyner. Photo Credit: Hampton Athletics / David Wegiel Jr. 

Ed Joyner had Jesus on speed dial after Hampton knocked off Manhattan in the NCAA Tournament First Round on Tuesday night. The messiah answered, but once the Pirates’ head coach asked about his team’s chances of knocking off their next opponent, undefeated Kentucky, Jesus hung up on him.

At least, that’s the story Joyner told in the post game press conference.

It comes with Hampton basketball’s new standing in the hoops world: Straight underdog status, the term guard Reggie Johnson used to describe his team’s upcoming game against Kentucky.

After defeating Manhattan 74-64, the Pirates will now try and pull off one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history and hand the No. 1 seed Wildcats their first loss of the season.

“We got nothing to lose,” Joyner said. “We’re gonna’ go out and play, try to execute our game plan and try to win the game.”

Against the offensive juggernaut that head coach John Calipari has assembled down in Lexington, Joyner may need Jesus on his side to simply have a prayer against the Wildcats.

Led by future lottery picks Will Cauley-Stein (7’) and Karl Anthony-Town (6’11”), the Wildcats went 34-0 in the regular season, winning all 18 games in conference play before taking home the conference tournament title.

“They have nine or ten pros over there, so we’re just gonna’ try and make every shot hard and make them play a little defense by moving the ball and keeping them off the glass,” Joyner said.

With Kentucky’s roster full of NBA-talent, led by their twin towers up front, Joyner’s front court will have its hands full. But according to their head coach, Hampton isn’t intimidated.

“The biggest parts of it will be Jervon (Pressley) and Emmanuel (Okoroba) and Charles (Wilson-Fisher),” said Joyner. “Quinton (Chievous) will also be in there, but of course he’s well on the side. Those three guys are gonna’ have to go battle their tails off and hopefully try and contain them a little bit,” said Johnson. “I think it’s going to be very important. It’s gonna’ be important for them to stay out of foul trouble, one, and to go at them and make them play defense as well.”

Chievous, who recorded a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds against the Jaspers before getting injured, acknowledged the performance of Pressley in the game versus Manhattan. However, he knows the Wildcats are a far different animal than the Jaspers.

“I feel like it’s gonna’ be a lot different because they have so many options in the front court. We just gotta’ go out and play tough,” said Chievous.

Besides the big men the Wildcats possess, they also have a dynamite backcourt. Directed by twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Chievous and Co. will have to limit the opportunities these two are able to create in the offensive end.

“We’re just gonna have to defend,” Joyner said. “They’re definitely talented players, we gotta stay in front of them and make them take tough, contested shots.

“Hopefully they’re missing more than they make.”

Johnson, who recorded 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in the play-in game, will have to spearhead the Pirates back court defense.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity,” he said. “We know those guys are great guards in college basketball and it’s an opportunity for us to come in and play a good game. We’re a guard-heavy team, so it’s gonna be a great game guards-on-guards.”

Joyner is also counting on a big effort from point guard Deron Powers. The 5’11” junior tallied eight points and dished out seven assists against the Jaspers, and will have to use his quickness to get by the Kentucky defense in transition.

Regardless of what happens in the game Thursday night, Chievous is incredibly proud of all that his team has accomplished this year, and thankful for tonight’s opportunity.

“It’s amazing, first off we’re the only team in MEAC history to have two NCAA tournament wins,” he said. “We’re so happy and blessed right now that we got passed the first round and will always be remembered at our school and hopefully we can be remembered even more if something happens against Kentucky,”

Quinton Chievous rocks rims in Hampton’s NCAA Tournament win

Quinton Chievous had to walk along a long and winding road less traveled before he finally found his way into a Hampton Pirates uniform and made it back to the NCAA Tournament.

He wasted no time in making his presence felt once he stepped out onto the grand stage and under the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament, posting a double-double while throwing down a pair of vicious slam-dunks in 16-seed Hampton’s 74-64 First Round win over fellow No. 16 Manhattan.

The son of former NBA player and Missouri all-time leading scorer Derrick Chievous, Quinton began his career at Tennessee, where he redshirted one season, and could never find his way into the rotation, watching from the end of the bench as the Vols’ advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2013. After graduating in three years, Chievous, a 6’6” wing, transferred to Hampton as a graduate student, and emerged as a key player in the Pirates rotation.

On Tuesday night, Chievous messed around and had a double-double by halftime, posting 11 points and 10 rebounds in the games first 20 minutes, before finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while shooting 7-of-12 from the floor.

Chievous threw down a big one-handed dunk in each half, the more earth-shaking of the two coming in the second half when he caught a feed from outside the right low-block, took one hard power-dribble towards the hoop and took off, posterizing 6’9” Manhattan forward Zane Waterman.

Chievous would leave the game in the final minutes after landing awkwardly, but appeared in high spirits after the games final horn, saying he “had to get healthy,” in time for the Pirates Thursday night showdown against undefeated overall No. 1 Kentucky.

Hampton’s Quinton Chievous: Following his father’s footsteps

Quinton Chievous. Photo Credit: Mark W. Sutton / Hampton Athletics
Quinton Chievous. Photo Credit: Mark W. Sutton / Hampton Athletics

Hampton University senior guard Quinto Chievous is used to it: Whenever his name is brought up in a conversation about basketball, he usually isn’t the subject.

His father is.

It comes with the territory when you follow in the footsteps of a father, Derrick Chievous, who still stands as the all-time leading scorer and arguably the greatest player in University of Missouri history, and who, after college dominance, went on to play in the NBA.

But according to Chievous, who struggled to make his way onto the court at a BCS school before transferring down to a relatively unknown mid-major, only to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament, he’s never felt like he was playing in his father’s shadow,

“I mean, I was young so I don’t even remember that much, but I’ve always heard great stories about my father and what he was like as a player in college and in the pros,” he says.

“He helped me learn a lot of the plays and players and helped me develop as I got older. The older I got, specifically in my sophomore and junior years of high school, he helped me gain more knowledge about the game.”

Chievous, a 6’6” 215-pound wing, excelled at Notre Dame College Prep, being named All-City and All-State by the Chicago Sun-Times, as well as being a McDonald’s All-American nominee his senior year, earning scholarship offers from a host of high-majors along the way, before ultimately deciding to head south and play at the University of Tennessee.

Unfortunately for him, it didn’t work out.

Chievous redshirted his freshman year, averaged only 10.2 minutes per game the next year, and could find his way onto the court for 32 total minutes spread over nine games the following season.

After graduating early with a degree in communications thanks to a fast academic track, Chievous knew he had to make a change, and packed his bags and headed a few hours north to Norfolk to use his last two years of eligibility at Hampton University.

“I just felt like it was the right school,” he says. “I liked the graduate program and I saw they had a chance to win their conference tournament, so I felt like that was a good place to go.

”Going to the Sweet 16 [at Tennessee] I wanted to go back to the tournament and experience it again, so I wanted to go to a school where I would have the chance to do that.”

Hampton head coach Edward Joyner, who led the Pirates to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 before leading them back into the NCAAs this year, was ecstatic when he learned of Chievous’ decision to attend Hampton. Joyner had just lost a crucial player in Du’Vaughn Maxwell, and knew Quinton could fill that void.

“We were excited. Ironically, we said we needed a guard/forward type who could play multiple positions and help us better the team from a production standpoint and we thought that Quinton could be a big piece of that,” says Joyner.

“One strength is that he’s very versatile. He can guard different positions for us, really from three to five. He can play different positions for us, he’s played some two some three some four.

Sometimes so-called “drop-down players” carry with them oversized egos and miniscule work-ethics when they drop down from a BCS program to a small school. But according to Joyner, Cheivous has been one of the Pirates hardest workers since day one.

Despite not having much experience as a starter in college, Joyner felt Chievous could make an instant impact, so he was thrown in the starting five immediately last season, and Chievous responded, scoring in double-figures in 11 of his first the first 13 games of the season.

“If you know the game of basketball and have enough knowledge, it’s not that bad,” says Chievous of learning a new system and a new role on the fly.

“One thing that he did understand was that it takes a little time and there are a lot of decisions that you have to make on the court in college that at some point caught him by surprise,” says Joyner, “He had to learn and play through a lot of those situations more than I think he thought he would, but he’s done a good job.”

In 33 games as a Pirate, Chievous is averaging 10 points, six rebounds in 25 minutes per game. But according to Joyner, Chievous true value can’t be summarized in his raw numbers.

“I think he’s one of the key reasons that we were able to win a championship this year,” he says. “Quinton is a young man who understands roles and how his roles varied from night to night. One night we may need him to score in a big way, another night we may need him to rebound, or another we just may need his energy.

He has a bunch of different roles and he’s able to be that guy that whatever we need, he’s there to fill that role.”

With a play-in game set for Tuesday night against Manhattan in the NCAA tournament, the winner of which will play Tournament overall No. 1 seed Kentucky, Chievous knows what’s at stake,.

“It means a lot,” he says of his return to the Big Dance. “I’m really just trying to get that first win so I can add on to my legacy of going to the tournament and winning. A 16 seed has never beaten a one seed so it will be a very difficult task.”

But Cheivous isn’t going to shy away from the spotlight, or any opponent, even if it’s the mighty Wildcats.

“Anything is possible in March, and we have the chance to do something great.”

For more untold stories of the underdogs that make March Madness and the NCAA Tournament so magical, read here.