College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Thursday, February 14, 2002
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer
'Pack Follows ECU's Footsteps in Facilities
Sneak into Football Practice for Trifecta
East Carolina fans can possibly hit the trifecta in Greenville on
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 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
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
— 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
— 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
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.
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