NBA honors Kobe Bryant with All-Star tributes on and off the court

Keion Cage | Hampton Script Staff Writer

The NBA's All-Star Game on Feb. 16 in Chicago celebrated some of the league's best athletes. The association also changed the rules of the game to honor basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who died Jan. 26.

A frenetic fourth quarter featured fierce competitiveness worthy of Bryant. Several fouls, challenges and heated disputes occurred between players and referees – rarely seen in past All-Star games.

"This fourth quarter of [the NBA All-Star Game] is an absolutely phenomenal look for the game of basketball," ESPN journalist Stephen A. Smith wrote on Twitter. "This is what fans crave and the players delivered."

Team LeBron was able to complete the comeback victory and beat Team Giannis, 157-155, with a free throw made by the Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis sealing the deal.

The NBA changed the All-Star MVP Award name to the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award. The Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard earned the honor with 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

"It's very special," Leonard said in an interview with ESPN. "Words can't explain how happy I am to be able to put that trophy in my room and just be able to see Kobe's name on there."

Photo courtesy of IMDb.

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Hampton commit receives McDonald’s All-American nomination

By Amber Anderson | Hampton Script Staff Writer

The vision is clear and bright for Hampton University commit Victoria Davis, as she is one step closer to becoming a McDonald's All-American athlete. Davis is living out a dream of many high school athletes. Along with more than 900 other high school basketball players across the country, she has been nominated for the McDonald's All-American Game.

Photo Credit: @chapternextphotography via Instagram

The McDonald's All-American Game has maintained a reputation for a difficult selective process. The names of the athletes have to be submitted and approved by a wide variety of judges. They include high school coaches, high school athletic directors, high school principals and McDonald's All-American Games Selection Committee Members. What surprises people the most is there isn't a set number on the amount of the nominees throughout the country.

Once the voting committees cast their vote, 24 young women will have the opportunity to become a McDonald's All-American. If selected, she will be playing with some of the best of the best on April 1 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

For more on this story, visit Hampton Script.

HU’s Young emerges as one of the Big South’s best freshmen

By Harrington Gardiner | Hampton Script Staff Writer

Despite accomplishing so many achievements and receiving so many awards this season, Nylah Young has one goal in mind: a championship for the Lady Pirates.

The freshman's season so far has included winning the Big South conference freshman player of the week. Young has been averaging 15.3 PPG, 11 Reb and 2.3 steals this season.

Nylah is from Suffolk, Virginia with an undecided major. She's been playing basketball since she was six years old. Young played AAU basketball and she also played all four years of high school basketball at Kings Fork High School.

Photo Credit: Jim Heath / Director of Sports Information

Since a young age, Young has been inspired by three basketball players: Candice Parker, LeBron James and most importantly her father. Nylah's dad played overseas after playing at the University of Maryland and East Carolina.

"He's been my inspiration because he's been playing all his life too, so I wanted to play since I was young, and it just stuck with me," Young said.

The decision to attend Hampton University came from her desire to be closer to home. Hampton also had a family atmosphere that was unlike any other school.

"When you go other places they pretend, but I felt like when I came here, I was treated like real family," she said. "[Hampton's] basketball program is great and I decided to go someplace where I'd fit in and become a threat as soon as I get there."

For more on this story, visit Hampton Script here.

Why Don’t Men’s and Women’s Basketball Receive the Same Support?

By Whitney Bronson

MEAC champions. Multiple NCAA tournament appearances. One Division II NCAA tournament championship. The Hampton University women's basketball team has been a top contender in Division I basketball since joining the MEAC in 1995.

The men's basketball team has multiple NCAA tournament appearances, conference tournament championships and regular season championships. Both teams made it to the 2018 MEAC championship with a record of 21-4 in the conference. But one important factor stands out in a big way: the number of fans.

Nearly twice as many people attend men's basketball games. The women's team barely averaged 2,600 spectators for its 11 home games in the 2017-2018 season. Meanwhile, the men's team averaged 4,205. Overall, the average attendance at all (home and away) women's games is 1,696, while attendance at men's games averages 3,530 for all games.

The reasons are complicated, say those involved, including the way the games are marketed and advertised, differences in the way the teams play, scheduling of home games and – perhaps most concerning – gender bias.

Marketing and advertising appears to be handled equitably, with an equal amount of public relations time spent on both men's and women's team.

Both are advertised throughout the city of Hampton, on campus and on print and online platforms.

"We try to as the athletic marketing team to make it more equal because they are equally as good," said junior Marshall Bennett. "The women's team has more conference championships than the men."

Even Bennett said he is concerned about attendance.

"We don't understand why the people don't come to see the women as much as the men."

Some fans say they enjoy both teams equally, but others say they prefer men's games because they are more aggressive, faster-paced and more dramatic, both on and off the court. The fans respond more enthusiastically at the men's games.

Lizzie Allen is an avid basketball fan who loves both teams. She has been to all of the men's and women's games this year.

"I played ball in high school, so it's kind of my way of staying connected," said Allen. They're both good teams, so it's actually entertaining to watch."

But other students go to men's games more because they say there is more action and it is more entertaining. Men can run faster, jump higher, and have more strength. These traits make the game more interesting, some say.

"Men and women are not valued the same in this country but that's a bigger issue," said Allen.

This is where the conversation gets complicated. Gender bias appears to be part of the answer to uneven attendance.

"Students go to men's games because of preference," said senior guard K'Lynn Willis. "The preference is always men's over women's and if people prefer the NBA over the WNBA, they'll go to an NBA game."

One big difference is the use of dunking. In women's professional and college games, dunking is extremely rare. But the crowds seem to enjoy dunking from their enthusiastic reactions.

"A lot of people just want to see men's over women's because of athleticism. Women are more fundamentally sound, but athletically wise it's more appealing to see men dunk than a woman shoot," Willis said.

Scheduling may also hurt attendance at women's games. During the 2017-2018 season, there were more double headers for men's and women's basketball games. This means that on certain days, the women's team will play first and the men's team will play after. The women's game is never scheduled in the prime time on those days.

The women's games usually start around 4:00-5:00 p.m. and the men's games around 6:00-7:00 p.m. The early start time may hurt attendance by students who have afternoon classes, and people who are working or just getting off work. The on-campus cafeteria also does not open until 5:30 p.m. for dinner, making some fans choose between hunger and the game. Staying for both takes more than four hours, which may be too much of a commitment for some fans.

Scheduling will change once the transition to the Big South conference is complete. There will be far fewer double-headers. Only three are scheduled for the 2018-2019 season. In addition, the women will play more games in the evening and on Saturdays. This scheduling change could help increase attendance at women's basketball games.

The men's basketball players enthusiastically support the women's teams and attend games whenever possible. They feel as though they learn more by watching women's basketball and support their counterparts in the basketball program.

One of the men's players enjoys watching the women play and tries to attend as many home games as he can.

"I actually learn from watching women's basketball," said senior guard Lysander Bracey. "Women have more fundamentals than men's basketball. Supporting them is important and we should all do that."

One theory of why people support men's basketball more is tradition. Men's basketball has been around longer and has developed a larger following. Hampton's women's team was formed in 1975 and men's team in 1967. The same parallel exists in professional basketball, where the NBA has a 50-year head start.

"We're all doing the same thing. Putting in all this time and doing all this work. I think there has to be more support for the women," Bracy said. "It's unfair."

Viewership could also be increased by changing the rules and regulations of women's basketball to make it more entertaining. For instance, the rims could be lowered so that taller women players could dunk. It's a controversial topic because some women players find the idea insulting.

"We're constantly being compared to men. We have people excelling at a ten-foot rim and now you're asking us to lower the rim so we can continually be compared ..." said Los Angeles Sparks player Nneka Ogwumike, during an interview with The Undefeated. "... now someone like me, who has done what she's done, has to relearn the game ...."

Some people believe that just having the conversation will help create a change.

"I just feel like more women athletes at every level needs to speak on it," said junior guard Ashley Bates. "The more people speak on it the more it is seen."

Hampton College Basketball Players want to get paid

By Harrington Gardiner

During last month's March madness tournament, student athletes entertained millions of students who were amazed by incredible athleticism. The students brought national recognition to Villanova and Michigan and brought considerable proceeds pouring into multiple television networks. What fans often don't realize is that the players aren't getting paid. No matter how big the school here at Hampton University the student athletes strongly believe that they should be getting paid. They argue that the sacrifices on and off the court, the financial need, and the money they bring into the university is enough for them to get paid.

This year's Hampton basketball team did not reach the NCAA March madness tournament and were unable to highlight their talents, but players were not shy of sharing their opinion on compensation.

"These players certainly deserve it for their hard work," said Hampton men's basketball coach Edward Maynor Jr.

School's get a profit and generate revenue every single year off the hard work of athletes but the ones who are putting in the work and scoring the points don't receive a dime. Though most college athletes are on full scholarship, they still have the daily responsibilities of regular college students. Sophomore guard Jermaine Marrow said that college athletes should get paid not only for what they do on the court but, what they do off the court because it takes away from their free time.

"I think it's important for us as players because we have so many duties off the court and sometimes basketball can prevent us from that. It's more than just playing games we have to recover and study, which takes away from our free time," Marrow said.

Hampton collegiate players discuss the responsibilities along with having practice, film study, and games every week. For them it's an uphill battle and compensation is a concern especially with the amount of revenue universities generate.

It's especially challenging for students here at Hampton that come from inadequate financial backgrounds and can't afford certain things. Student athletes put blood, sweat, and tears to work hard for the university's pride and recognition, and they feel it should be fair for college athletes to get paid rather than just being work horses for nonprofit.

Kalin Fisher who is a junior guard talked about the possibility of compensation and the passion that comes with playing college basketball. "It's tough balancing everything and hopefully there will be a solution in the future but as of right now, it's our passion to play and some of us are playing here for free as opposed to paying to attend school," Fisher said.

Coaches around the country that play for collegiate basketball schools get paid exceptional amounts of money and depending on the schools play, they get recognized and that brings in more money for the school.

Hampton Men's head basketball coach Edward Maynor, Jr. discussed the efforts of coaches and players. Maynor believes that players should get paid and share the proceeds equally.

Junior Day attracts basketball recruits

By Dejane' James

HAMPTON, VA- Hampton women's basketball hosted its fourth annual "Junior Day" event Sept. 23 and 24, to recruit high school athletes. Seventy people attended, including 30 student-athletes from more than 15 different cities.

Hampton University's athletic budget does not allow coaching staff to do home visits with recruits, but coaches found a way to turn that negative into a positive.

"Not being able to do home visits started to become a disadvantage, so I created "Junior Day," said Timothy Valentine, associate head coach. "This makes up for the home visit recruiting that we cannot afford to do."

Many recruits traveled from the West coast and Midwest. It took those who did over a day just to get to Hampton, Va.

Tori Davis, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, traveled with his family from Phoenix, Arizona for a firsthand HBCU experience.

"I did not know what an HBCU was up until a few months ago," Davis said. "I feel that people my age need to experience and know about them, so that's why I came."

The recruits saw a day in a college athlete life firsthand.

"I like how we were able to watch the team practice and tour their locker room," said Ja' Niah Henson, a 16-year-old high school junior from Baltimore, Maryland. "It was cool to hang with the players without the coaches and my parents."

Adria Strothers has more appreciation for "Junior Day" now that she experienced it as a player instead of a recruit.

"Junior Day" convinced her to come to Hampton, she said.

"Junior Day played a big part in my commitment to Hampton," said Strothers. "It made me fall in love with the school and want to spend the next three years here."

Recruits and families said they enjoyed the event.

"Recruits are already looking forward to coming down for next year's event," said Jermaine Brown, assistant coach. "One recruit even told her mother she wants to go to school here."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Lady Pirates vs. Duke, Round III

By Taylor Lee and Carly Moon

So we meet again.

In the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament, the 15th seeded Hampton University Lady Pirates (20-12) will play the second-seeded, nationally ranked Duke Lady Blue Devils 9 p.m. Saturday March 18.

This is not the first time that Hampton and Duke have seen each other. It is the third encounter out of the six times that the Hampton women have been in the NCAA tourney in the past eight seasons.

Duke won the last meeting on March 24, 2013 by a 67-51 count. In 2010, Hampton lost 72-37.

A 15th seed beating a 2nd seed team has been done before by three Historically Black Colleges and Universities, all men's teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC): Hampton University, Norfolk State, and Coppin State University.

The Lady Pirates defeated Bethune Cookman University 52-49 and earned the 2017 MEAC tournament championship on March 11.

All-time scorer Malia Tate-DeFreitas, plus Ashley Bates and Chanel Green were three Hampton University regular-season starters that were sidelined because of injuries. Low post player Kaylah Lupoe was injured during the MEAC championship game. Together, the four student-athletes accounted for 57.5 percent of the team scoring.

"It was unlikely and improbable. We've got three starters sitting on the sideline, and then Lupoe gets hurt," said coach David Six (photo right). "And we still find a way."

"I am just so thankful to be a part of this team. When everyone thought we were going to lose or give up, we actually won," said Monnazjea Finney-Smith (photo right), member of the MEAC all-tournament team. "To be able to play against a great team [Duke] with such a great history is just exciting.

"I trust my coach will prepare us and have a great game plan, and I am definitely excited to be here."

To catch the game, tune into ESPN3 at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

If you want to support the Lady Pirates at the game in Durham, North Carolina, the Office of Student Activities is taking a bus to to cheer the girls on. The first 200 people to sign up can go for free. A mass email was sent notifying students to "Get on the Bus." In addition to a free ride and ticket to the game the passengers also get free T-shirts and lunch boxes.

"I want to make sure that the team has full support from their peers," said Anzell Harrell, director of student activities, "because I have watched them work so hard to get to this point."

Some Hampton students speculated on whether the women's basketball team could make it past Saturday. "I get scared when I hear big-school names like Duke compared to Hampton. They probably think it's going to be an easy win," said Isaiah Spencer, a sophomore journalism major from Montclair, New Jersey. "I know we're going to prove them wrong."

The writers are students in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Hampton U. prepares for NSU Battle of the Bay rematch

By Carly Moon

Hampton University prepares to host the second round of The Battle of the Bay rivalry game against Norfolk State University on Monday, Feb. 27.

The Pirates fell to the Spartans at the first round of the Battle of the Bay, losing 62-79 on Jan. 21.

The Lady Pirates won 58-57 that night.

"We didn't bring enough energy and toughness that a rivalry game requires," said Trevond Barnes (photo right), a sophomore forward for the Hampton men's basketball team.

Students from both schools promise to bring their A-games, including their best cheerleaders, the most lit band and lively crowds.

"We have been working vigorously for the last couple of weeks, to show that we are the best cheerleaders between the two schools." said Ronyae Northam, a sophomore elementary education major and Hampton U Hoo'rah cheerleader.

Hampton University leadership sent out mass emails about the match-up to students, faculty and staff during the days leading up until the games.

"They're always blowing up my phone with alerts." said Kenya Waugh, a sophomore strategic communications major, English minor from Washington, D.C. "But it helps me stay aware of the games and activities going on."

The game theme is "True blue with a dab of pink" to bring awareness and honor to breast cancer survivors. Hampton U. is also recognizing student-athletes who are on the Dean's List with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

"I'm excited to be honored at the game because, us student-athletes work so hard on and off the field, and still manage to get our work done," said Courtney James (photo right), a sophomore criminal justice major from Suffolk, Virginia.

Students from both schools are looking forward to game day -- an opportunity for students to represent with school spirit.

"I love it! It always brings a lot of good competition between the two schools," said Kayla Culbreath, a Norfolk State University sophomore biology pre-professional major from Atlanta. "Even though, it is a competitive game, the music, good crowd and dances bring us all together to represent one HBCU community."

Hampton students said they are determined to exhibit intangible feelings of school pride and to show out in the stands. The Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Training program has been the face of the crowd at basketball games, and for rivalry games nothing less is expected.

"I can't wait to sit with my SLP family and trash talk the other team," said Daliyah Ross, a sophomore business management major from Southern California.

The rivalry between both MEAC conference teams dates back to 1963. Both schools are geographically separated by the Hampton Roads harbor.

Hampton men, whose record is, 12-15, will face 15-14 Norfolk State at Hampton University's last home game on Monday at 9 p.m. The Lady Pirates play NSU at 6 p.m.

The men's game will be televised on ESPNU or you can listen on WHOV-FM 88.1.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Ballers: Howard vs. Hampton equals extra effort

Story by Nia Little

"Who is the real HU," you might ask? Well, the Hampton University women's and men's basketball teams take on Howard University Saturday at 4 and 6 p.m. at Hampton University's Convocation Center. Students and alumni from Howard, Hampton and nearby universities attend each year.

Cheerleading teams and dance teams prepare to entertain the crowd. Like other collegiate sports, cheerleaders practice throughout the week to prepare for upcoming games.

Diamond Broughton, a sophomore strategic communications major and member of the Blue Thunder cheerleading, squad says "Practice is more fun because we get to come up with new material to show off."

In the past, cheerleading teams would prepare new material for the larger crowd and possible cheer battles. A Hampton vs. Howard cheer battle video went viral during football season last fall.

Rivalry games like the visiting Bison vs. the Pirates are far more intense compared to other games during the season.

Said Broughton, "We put a little extra 'umph' into our appearance and performance."

Rival games are more than a battle between basketball teams, they give cheerleaders a chance to battle other squads and score points of their own.

"Other games, we usually don't have anyone to cheer against," said Broughton. "Most people don't realize cheerleaders have their own secret game going on, on the sideline."

What's a basketball game without a crowd? Students who do not regularly attend Hampton home basketball games plan to attend this one. "At games like this, the band plays new music, the cheerleaders are intense, and the crowd is more involved" said sophomore pharmacy major Tyra Smith.

Tristin Davis, a biology major from Memphis, Tennessee, plans to put on his best weekend outfit – a nice pair of jeans and a T-shirt and Nike Jordans – and hang out with friends in preparation for game time.

It is safe to say that the cheerleading team's hard work doesn't go unnoticed. There should be more attendees, dressed to impress at this week's game.

The Blue Thunder cheerleading team members said they are ready for this week's rivalry. Watch the cheerleaders live in action Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Super Bowl LI was a girlie good time

By Olivia Okeke

HAMPTON, Virginia -- Super Bowl Sunday in a house full of young women is not a typical game party.

Upon walking into the apartment you didn't get the vibe that the biggest football game in the world was on television. Songs such as "Best of me" by Jay Z and Mya were being played. Wine was being poured instead of beer and hard liquor.

The game was on mute. There were conversations about what kind of brownies should be made next.

Little attention was being paid to the game at all but the Hampton University students were concerned about one thing: the halftime show. Lady Gaga was performing and the women were super excited to see what dynamic she was going to bring to the concert this year.

Last year's Super Bowl performance by Beyoncé was utterly amazing, said some of the women, and the reunion of the iconic trio Destiny's Child made history.

"This year's show has to upstage last year's performance or it's going to be terrible," said Aalexis Campbell, a sophomore nursing major from California.

As the countdown for the show began, people's attention was focused on the projector screening Super Bowl LI.

At 8:13 p.m. Lady Gaga started the halftime show on the roof of NRG Stadium in Houston, paying tribute to America. Soon after that tribute Gaga jumped off the top of the stadium and onto the stage to begin her performance.

"That was definitely extremely expected and pretty cliche jumping off the roof," said Ayanna Mondesir, a sophomore history major from New York. "The show directors could have picked something cooler to do instead."

As Gaga continued the performance it just declined, said observers.

"She looks under rehearsed and confused with the directions," said Ashley Mckie, a sophomore strategic communications major from New York.

Once 8:20 p.m. came, the young ladies were up making brownies.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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