Daquan Joyner enjoys special birthday in Pirate win
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 18, 2008 1:46 PM
GREENVILLE -- Daquan Joyner couldn't have had a better birthday.
The former Goldsboro High standout turned in a career effort before family and friends in East Carolina's 94-58 thrashing of Division II member St. Andrews on Sunday afternoon.
But Joyner's outing started shaky.
His first appearance on the Williams Arena court lasted seven minutes and he barely registered any numbers in the statistics column. The 6-foot-7 sophomore forward managed a rebound, one foul and two points.
"When I first got into the game, I really wasn't energized about it," said Joyner. "I wasn't into the flow of getting up and down the court. Once coach sat me down and put me back in, I was ready to go."
Joyner returned and dished off an assist to James Legan, who buried a 3-pointer near the St. Andrews' bench. Moments later, Joyner picked the Knights for a steal, hit Brock Young with the outlet pass and that led to another Legion 3-pointer.
Joyner had found his groove.
An all-conference performer at Goldsboro, Joyner blocked the Knights' Kurt Fenderbosch which led to another fast break. Joyner raced downcourt and received the alley-oop pass for a crowd-pleasing dunk.
The Pirates led 41-24.
"I had to let the game come to me," said Joyner. "Coach told me to continue playing hard regardless of what's going on. You never know what you can do when you play hard.
"That's what I did."
Joyner finished with career bests in points (13), minutes played (21), field goals made (6) and field goals attempted (7). He also notched two assists and two steals.
ECU coach Mack McCarthy attributed Joyner's improvement to a great offseason, including the weight room, individual workouts and pick-up games. But Joyner is still working sustaining consistent play associated with the rigors of the collegiate game.
"(His improvement) is night and day," said McCarthy. "He's not an extremely confident person even though he knows he's talented. He used to wait for it to happen, but now he's making it happen.
"He's capable of being an awfully good college basketball player."
Joyner is just one of three scholarship players listed at either forward or center, which makes the Pirates' frontcourt depth a concern. Joining Joyner are redshirt freshman Chad Wynn (6-10, 250) and freshman Darrius Morrow (6-8, 250).
Wynn played sparingly last season due to injuries. Morrow, who posted his first-ever collegiate double-double against St. Andrews, initially signed with South Carolina.
"They're both capable of playing well, but what they're not capable of right now is sustaining that play over a long period of time," said McCarthy of Joyner and Morrow. "Tonight was really big for them. They played well for extended minutes. They're both really skilled and talented guys, but they're both still learning how hard they have to play and how much effort that it takes mentally and physically to stay consistent."
Joyner laughed when he recalled his first practice as a freshman. He got bumped around and realized he needed to build himself physically and mentally. He said the experience should prove beneficial heading into this season.
"We have to work together, especially in this (CUSA) conference because there are a lot of good post players," said Joyner. "If we continue to play hard and box out, I think we can be some of the top post players in this conference.
"We just have to work hard every day in practice to get better."
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