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College Sports in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Thursday, February 14, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

'Pack Follows ECU's Footsteps in Facilities Moves

©2002 Bonesville.net

Sneak into Football Practice for Trifecta

East Carolina fans can possibly hit the trifecta in Greenville on Saturday.

The baseball team plays Delaware at 1 p.m. and the basketball team hosts Birmingham Southern at 7 p.m. You might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of spring football practice, although it is supposed to be closed to the public.

The baseball team, 47-13 last season, will start preseason All-American left-hander Sam Narron, who was 12-1 in 2001 with a 2.67 earned run average, in the season opener at Harrington Field against Delaware on Friday at 3 p.m. ECU will likely go with right-hander Jason Mandryk (7-1, 1.95) on Saturday and Davey Penny (3-3, 4.32) in a 1 p.m. game on Sunday.

“This will be the best pitching staff we’ve had returning since I’ve been at ECU,” said fifth-year head coach Keith LeClair.

Will Brinson, another preseason All-American, is available in the bullpen.

The Pirates’ lineup will feature center fielder Warren Gaspar returning in the leadoff spot, where he hit .309 and had 16 steals last season. Darryl Lawhorn, a freshman from Wilmington, is expected to bat second and play first base. Bryant Ward, the team’s leading hitter last season with a .366 average, will bat third and play third base.

Right fielder Ryan Jones is projected in the clean-up spot. He hit .279 last season with 17 RBIs. In the fifth spot, the designated hitter against left-handers will probably be Nick Wedemeyer. Daniel Vick will fill that role against opposing right-handers.

Catcher Clayton McCullough, who hit .301 in 2001, is expected to bat sixth. Second baseman Jedd Sorenson (.340), shortstop Luke Cherry, a junior college transfer from California, and left fielder Ben Sanderson (.288) round out the projected starting lineup.

Break from C-USA

The men’s basketball team gets a break from Conference USA action when it plays Birmingham Southern, a 76-74 double-overtime winner over ECU last year in Birmingham, AL.

The Pirates will be trying to sustain some momentum from a 61-58 league win over Southern Miss in Greenville on Tuesday night.

“Every game is big now in terms of our goal of making the league tournament,” said ECU coach Bill Herrion. “We don’t want to be one of the two teams left out in March. Our kids responded to the challenge against Southern Miss. Our kids played with a lot of intensity, especially on defense in the first half.”

The Pirates led 31-22 at the intermission after limiting the Golden Eagles to 37.5 percent field goal shooting and forcing 11 turnovers. Southern Miss didn’t score in the first 8:45 and fell behind 13-0.

ECU still had to make a stretch run after trailing 52-45 with 7:30 to go. Bryan Foxx ignited a 16-6 stretch run by ECU with a three-pointer with 7:29 to go. Kenyatta Brown’s short leaner from the baseline banked in with 30.2 seconds left to give ECU a 59-58 lead. Travis Holcomb-Faye made two clutch free throws with 11.4 seconds remaining to give ECU its final margin. Sophomore Erroyl Bing emerged with a loose ball at the defensive end in the closing seconds to seal the outcome.

“At the end of the game we were playing a three-quarters court 1-2-2 press that was effective,” Herrion said. “We’re switching defenses a lot more. We played some 2-3 zone.”

Last year’s game was the only time ECU has played Birmingham Southern. The Panthers return two starters, senior guards Rashard Willie and T.R. Reed. They are coming off of an 88-80 win at home over Coastal Carolina on Monday.

Mysteries Solved

— There was some puzzlement among East Carolina fans when quarterback David Garrard wore a silver helmet with a purple ECU decal in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, on Jan. 26, but as it turns out, there is a reasonable explanation. The all-star game permits an electronic device to be placed inside the quarterbacks’ helmets for efficient communications with the sidelines. As it turned out, the device wouldn’t fit inside Garrard’s regular ECU helmet so adjustments had to be made. The North squad, which Garrard played on, was being coached by Mike Holmgren of the Seattle Seahawks and Garrard was equipped with a silver Seattle helmet that could accommodate the communications piece. The helmet was personalized for Garrard with the ECU decal. It was a different look and no doubt resulted in some funny looks from discerning Pirates fans.

— A couple of people have mentioned that Syracuse was dropped from ECU’s 2002 schedule, a fact which athletics director Mike Hamrick confirmed after the upcoming football schedule was released this week. But the Pirates didn’t dump the Orangemen. The decision was agreed to by both parties and ECU will still play a game at Syracuse in the future to fulfill its contractual obligation. “We have a good relationship with Syracuse and look forward to continuing the series,” Hamrick said. Hamrick had to drop one non-conference game because Conference USA went from seven to eight league games this season. The NCAA is permitting teams to schedule 12 regular-season games in 2002 and 2003 but Hamrick said C-USA will continue playing eight games even when the NCAA reverts to an 11-game regular season in 2004. One of the non-conference matchups that season will be N.C. State in Charlotte.

— While those little mysteries have been explained, no one apparently knows for sure when ECU’s strength and conditioning center will be completed. The $11 million state-of-the-art structure was initially supposed to have been ready for the 2001 football season but that didn’t happen. Hamrick said the completion is not a high priority at the present time because the deadline has passed for last football season. He indicated that red tape associated with construction on state university campuses was one reason for the delay. The situation is reminiscent of the delay in opening the upper deck of Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. It also opened a year late. Come to think of it, the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill and the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh also experienced some snafus in terms of their original timetables. Even though the area between Minges Coliseum and Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium currently resembles a construction site, the important thing is that the strength and conditioning center will eventually open and it will be a great enhancement of ECU’s athletic facilities when it is completed.

Trend Continues

Duke, Clemson, N.C. State and North Carolina have all lost their defensive coordinators since the end of football season.

The Blue Devils’ situation, a dismissal, was apparently related to job performance. Clemson’s Reggie Herring went to Ole Miss, State’s Buddy Green went to Navy and Jon Tenuta left UNC for Georgia Tech. There may have been personal reasons involved with Green’s decision.

ECU’s staff was intact from the 2001 season at the start of spring practice on Tuesday. Pirates coach Steve Logan said he wants players who want to be at ECU. The same thing applies to his coaching staff.

Another Trend

ECU renovated Minges Coliseum and N.C. State soon helped build the ESA. ECU built an upper deck at Dowdy-Ficklen and the Wolfpack soon added seats to Carter-Finley Stadium. The Pirates broke ground on their strength and conditioning center and State soon started work on its football operations building. With ECU proceeding with plans for a $6 million baseball stadium, what would be the next logical step for the Pack? Look for an announcement soon on a new baseball facility at NCSU. Really.

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02/23/2007 12:58:02 AM
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