COACH: Ed Joyner Jr. (4th season at Hampton, overall, 50-48).
OPENER: Nov. 9 at William and Mary.
5 GAMES TO WATCH: Nov. 15 at Richmond; Dec. 18 vs. American; Jan. 7 vs. James Madison; Feb. 7 at Savannah State; Feb. 18 vs. Norfolk State.
STRENGTH: Energy. Joyner believes that he has 10 or 11 players who can contribute and has practiced as such, so that everyone's engaged. Three players with significant time from last season (David Bruce, Wes Dunning, Jasper Williams) and a lot of movable pieces provide lineup flexibility.
WEAKNESS: Inexperience. Eight freshmen/sophomores/newcomers guarantee growing pains in the early part of the season. Several will be counted on: Junior college transfer Du'Vaughn Maxwell; freshmen Ke'Ron Brown and Deron Powers; redshirt freshman Dwight Meikle; soph Emmanuel Okoroba.
PREDICTION: The Pirates were picked fifth in the MEAC. Look for an improvement from last season's 12-21 season that was scuttled by injuries and role discomfort. By February, they should be a factor in the MEAC race.