Hampton upset with seeding

March, 16, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. -- In the moments after Hampton coach David Six saw a No. 16 pop up next to his team's name on the NCAA Women's Selection Show, he was asked if he was disappointed.

"I don't feel disappointed," Six said to the Daily Press of Newport News, Va. "I feel disrespected."

He was not alone. So the university took the step of sending a pointed letter to the Selection Committee that read, in part:

"In comparison with other teams that were seeded better than Hampton University, we feel that Hampton University as well as its Lady Pirates, coaches, faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni, and all friends and supporters of the University have been deeply disrespected and insulted."

The letter, reported in the Daily Press, called the assignment of a No. 16 seed to the Lady Pirates "disgraceful" and "grossly unfair."

Hampton came into Saturday's game against top-seeded Stanford with a school-record 26 wins, one more than it had won a year ago when the Lady Pirates were 25-7 and received a No. 13 seed. And they nearly upset No. 4 seed Kentucky in the first round, losing in overtime.

This season, they won a third straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title and had an RPI of 63. They rank second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 46.8 points a game.

"At the end of the day, we felt like we had had a successful season," Six said on Friday. "Let's be clear on one thing. We are humbled and honored to be in the NCAA tournament, but we felt like we earned a better seed. It didn't work out that way, so we aren't going to cry about it. We are just ready to play."

But the matter hadn't quieted down much on Friday, even as the Lady Pirates took the practice court at Old Dominion in preparation for the game.

Hampton's vice president of administrative services, Dr. Rodney Smith, who penned the first letter, said he received a response from Gregory Christopher, the chair of the committee, via phone and email.

According to the email Smith read over the phone, Christopher indicated that Hampton was originally awarded a No. 15 seed and was moved one spot on the seed line in order to place it in the Norfolk venue, close to home. Christopher complimented Hampton on its "terrific" season.

Smith did not find that answer satisfactory. He said he responded to Christopher that the committee had done an "injustice" to Hampton and that the Pirates were "shamefully shafted." Smith noted there are 10 teams in the brackets with a better seed, but a lower RPI than Hampton.

What does Smith hope to accomplish with this dialogue?

"We just want to make sure it doesn't happen again," Smith said. "Hampton is not a pushover school and we want the committee to understand that. We want to be treated fairly, that's it."

But the chip on Hampton's shoulder heading into a game with one of the nation's powerhouse teams is big.

"Of course, we have a chip on our shoulder; last year we took Kentucky into overtime," junior forward Keiara Avant said. "This time we are ready and we will be focused."

Senior guard Choicetta McMillian said her team is "ready to make stuff happen and shock the world."

"All I know is there are going to be a lot of people from Hampton Roads out there tomorrow," Six said.

Will Smith be there?

"You bet, all 6,000 of us," Smith said.

Michelle Smith

Contributor, espnW.com
Michelle Smith has covered pro and college sports for AOL Fanhouse, the San Francisco Chronicle and espnW.



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