Mar 18, 2011
Hampton Coach Excited To Face Team He Grew Up Following

Guys like Ed “Buck” Joyner, Hampton’s second-year basketball coach, salt and pepper the tedious day before at an NCAA tournament site. We, the tedium-afflicted, are thankful for our Joyners.

Play begins today, so Thursday was a typical antiseptic yakathon at Time Warner Cable Arena, where the eight teams walked through practices. Beforehand, NCAA suits stick two “student-athletes” from each team at a mic’d-up table on a harshly lit riser, from which they answer media questions in 10 words or fewer.

Locker rooms are open for more 10-word answers during this exercise. And if you’re navigating the suffocating den of a Duke or North Carolina, well, you hope your fellow rabble practiced a little hygiene earlier, if you get me.

Anyway, the head coach eventually goes and sits before the bright lights too, but that light isn’t always reflected back into the room.

It was Thursday by Joyner, and you couldn’t help but feel warmed.

Not because Joyner is some quick-quip comedian but because of his coming-home-to-Charlotte story. Because of what seems to be genuine humility and appreciation for the moment. And because of what’s in store this afternoon for him and his Pirates, the 16th-seeded champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Hampton is going to get whacked by No. 1 seed Duke, re-energized by the expected return of star freshman guard Kyrie Irving, but that’s OK. Joyner will take it as an honor, actually, considering how much he urges his team to “play like Duke, according to junior guard Darrion Pellum.

And sure enough, just as Joyner predicted – he knows because he worships Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski – Coach K later promised the Blue Devils would attack this game as if it’s for the national crown.

But that’s really beside the point, which is the inviting pride and pleasure that can pour from a man when he reaches a professional goal for all to see.

I’m not ashamed to tell you I’m relishing this moment, Joyner said. I love it. This is what I dreamed of…. That ain’t telling you that we’re not going to come out and try to win a ballgame. But we’re going to enjoy this moment.”

It’s richer for Joyner, whose dad and uncle are college coaches, because he’ll play this NCAA game in the city where he grew up and attended college – at Johnson C. Smith – six days after winning the MEAC title in Winston-Salem, where he was born.

That geography and those results – prevailing in Winston-Salem, appearing opposite Duke in Charlotte – are precisely as Joyner said he and his wife, Aerian, hoped they would turn out to be.

“Growing up, I was a huge Duke fan. Huge, Joyner said. I guess you got to be careful of what you ask for.”

He laughed at that, but it wasn’t a calculated line or a gallows chuckle. It was more just a soulful reminder, when life actually lines up, to drink in its favor.

“We’re going to come play, Joyner said, dismissing the thought he’d spring a secret strategy on the mighty Coach K. Might as well just let our kids do what they’ve done all year and see if that works for us.”

Seeing Joyner revel, one thing was clear. It’s already worked.

Hampton Coach Excited To Face Team He Grew Up Following

The Virginia-Pilot, Tom Robinson

Guys like Ed “Buck” Joyner, Hampton’s second-year basketball coach, salt and pepper the tedious day before at an NCAA tournament site. We, the tedium-afflicted, are thankful for our Joyners.

Play begins today, so Thursday was a typical antiseptic yakathon at Time Warner Cable Arena, where the eight teams walked through practices. Beforehand, NCAA suits stick two “student-athletes” from each team at a mic’d-up table on a harshly lit riser, from which they answer media questions in 10 words or fewer.

Locker rooms are open for more 10-word answers during this exercise. And if you’re navigating the suffocating den of a Duke or North Carolina, well, you hope your fellow rabble practiced a little hygiene earlier, if you get me.

Anyway, the head coach eventually goes and sits before the bright lights too, but that light isn’t always reflected back into the room.

It was Thursday by Joyner, and you couldn’t help but feel warmed.

Not because Joyner is some quick-quip comedian but because of his coming-home-to-Charlotte story. Because of what seems to be genuine humility and appreciation for the moment. And because of what’s in store this afternoon for him and his Pirates, the 16th-seeded champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Hampton is going to get whacked by No. 1 seed Duke, re-energized by the expected return of star freshman guard Kyrie Irving, but that’s OK. Joyner will take it as an honor, actually, considering how much he urges his team to “play like Duke, according to junior guard Darrion Pellum.

And sure enough, just as Joyner predicted – he knows because he worships Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski – Coach K later promised the Blue Devils would attack this game as if it’s for the national crown.

But that’s really beside the point, which is the inviting pride and pleasure that can pour from a man when he reaches a professional goal for all to see.

I’m not ashamed to tell you I’m relishing this moment, Joyner said. I love it. This is what I dreamed of…. That ain’t telling you that we’re not going to come out and try to win a ballgame. But we’re going to enjoy this moment.”

It’s richer for Joyner, whose dad and uncle are college coaches, because he’ll play this NCAA game in the city where he grew up and attended college – at Johnson C. Smith – six days after winning the MEAC title in Winston-Salem, where he was born.

That geography and those results – prevailing in Winston-Salem, appearing opposite Duke in Charlotte – are precisely as Joyner said he and his wife, Aerian, hoped they would turn out to be.

“Growing up, I was a huge Duke fan. Huge, Joyner said. I guess you got to be careful of what you ask for.”

He laughed at that, but it wasn’t a calculated line or a gallows chuckle. It was more just a soulful reminder, when life actually lines up, to drink in its favor.

“We’re going to come play, Joyner said, dismissing the thought he’d spring a secret strategy on the mighty Coach K. Might as well just let our kids do what they’ve done all year and see if that works for us.”

Seeing Joyner revel, one thing was clear. It’s already worked.






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