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College Basketball in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, January 7, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Hoops Landscape Takes a Tumble

©2001 Bonesville.net

Unbeaten teams in Division I men’s basketball for the 2001-02 season are now an extinct species.

Duke, which managed to hold that distinction longer than any team in the nation, bit the dust on Sunday night when the Blue Devils were nipped 77-76 at Florida State. N.C. State knocked Virginia from the unbeaten ranks, 81-74, on Saturday for the Wolfpack’s first win in Charlottesville since 1988.

It was a weekend for upsets and East Carolina made a strong run at No. 13 Cincinnati in the Pirates’ first Conference USA game on Saturday night. The Bearcats survived, thanks in large part to the free throw shooting of Steve Logan — seems strange to write that — for a 72-62 win. An excellent turnout of 7,143 made for a great atmosphere in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum and perhaps a foundation was laid that ECU can build on for the future.

Any doubts about North Carolina’s relative strength in comparison to its storied tradition seemed to have been erased as Wake Forest, which had experienced some struggles on the road, went into Chapel Hill and handed the Tar Heels their worst defeat ever at the Dean Dome, 84-62.

UNC just doesn’t appear to be very good and it faces a daunting task of trying to regroup for a game at Maryland on Wednesday. Of course, if Florida State can beat Duke, most any result appears possible.

Duke’s loss didn’t drop the Blue Devils from the No. 1 spot in the State Line Hoops Rankings©, a spot they have held from the outset this season. Here are the Top 10 and the Not-So-Sweet-17 for the Division I programs in the Carolinas:

State Line Hoops Report & Power Rankings©
— 01/07/02 —

THE TOP TEN

1. Duke ... Jason Williams missed six free throws, including four in the last 1:24. Duke had come back from a 58-45 deficit with 8:39 left to tie the score at 61 on a 3-pointer by Williams with 5:40 left. The Blue Devils led 76-72 on a three by Mike Dunleavy before Florida State’s Antwuan Dixon hit from behind the arc for the Seminoles with 28 seconds left. Williams, who scored 26 points, missed two from the line with 20 seconds left and Monte Cummings of FSU scored the deciding basket on a drive with 7.4 seconds to go. The outcome ended a 22-game winning streak for the Blue Devils, who shot just over 40 percent from the field and made just 7 of 19 free throws. FSU, spurred on by a crowd of 10,212 at the Leon County Civic Center, led 46-36 on the boards. Duke’s poise appeared surprisingly suspect against the inspired challenge of the Seminoles.

2. Wake Forest ... Wake Forest ... The Deacons remembered last year’s trip to Chapel Hill when they had a 17-game winning streak that spanned two seasons stopped with a 70-69 loss. When the Tar Heels threatened to make a second-half run on Saturday, Wake responded with a decisive flurry that pushed its lead as high as 28 points. Josh Howard scored 20 points in the victory as the Deacons dominated on the boards and forced Carolina into turnovers with their pressure defense. Last year’s Wake team went 7-10 the rest of the way beginning with a loss at the Dean Dome. It will be interesting to see if a win in Chapel Hill has more positive effects on this year’s Deacons.

3. N.C. State ... Winning at University Hall was something the Wolfpack hadn’t done since Art Baker was the football coach at ECU, 1988 to be exact. Obviously, that’s been awhile. State’s mixture of youth an experience continued to be a winning formula as freshman Julius Hodge led the Wolfpack with 21 points and senior Anthony Grundy, known more for his scoring than his playmaking, had six assists. Grundy leads State, which hosts stunning Florida State on Tuesday night, with a 14.9 scoring average.

4. South Carolina ... South Carolina ... The Gamecocks dropped their Southeastern Conference opener under first-year coach Dave Odom by a 69-60 score to No. 2 Florida in Gainesville. The Gators may well move up to the top spot in this week’s national polls with Duke’s loss. Aaron Lucas led USC with 14 points and three assists against the Gators. Jamel Bradley is the team’s top scorer with a 13.9 average. The Gamecocks get a week to prepare for a home game with Kentucky on Saturday at 1 p.m.

5. Charlotte ... Fans in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum will get to see the 49ers in person on Saturday at noon in what should be a good rivalry within Conference USA. The series between the teams is tied 4-4. Coach Bobby Lutz’s club won the C-USA Tournament last season and knocked off Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before being ousted by Illinois. Jobey Thomas leads Charlotte with an 18.5 scoring average and he’s hitting 42.5 percent of his threes. The Niners won their league opener 76-68 over No. 25 Marquette in Charlotte on Saturday.

6. UNC Wilmington ... ECU’s former rival within its old league, is continuing its success in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Seahawks ran their conference record to 3-0 with a 69-58 win at Hofstra on Saturday. UNCW, the CAA preseason favorite, was only the second team to beat the Pride on its home floor in its 41 games. Coach Jerry Wainwright’s team jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Craig Callahan led Wilmington with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Brett Blizzard scored 14 in the win. The Seahawks host George Mason at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

7. College of Charleston ... After a 10-1 start that included the championship of the Tournament of Champions in Charlotte, the Cougars have stumbled to an 0-2 start in Southern Conference play with a 69-67 loss at Chattanooga on Saturday despite 22 points from Jeff Bolton, the team’s top scorer with a 17.2 average. Coach John Kresse will try to establish some answers and get a win when his club hosts East Tennessee State at 7 p.m. tonight.

8. Gardner Webb ... The Bulldogs won their fourth straight game, 80-66, at Murray State on Saturday as Chas Criss led Coach Rick Scruggs’ independent team with 26 points. GW is 10-4. Rob Dooley, brother of former ECU coach Joe Dooley is an assistant for the Boiling Springs program. The Bulldogs, who are getting 12.9 points per game from guard James Colwell, a 45 percent 3-point shooter, play the third of a six straight road games at Centenary on Thursday.

9. The Citadel ... Another set of Bulldogs, who have gotten off to a good start this season, The Citadel moved to 2-0 in the Southern Conference and 10-3 overall with a 74-61 win over East Tennessee State on Saturday as Cliff Washburn led the way with 23 points and nine rebounds. Travis Cantrell is the top scorer for Coach Pat Dennis with a 16.6 average.

10. UNC Greensboro ... The Spartans got 19 points from Jay Joseph and Courtney Eldridge dealt out seven assists as coach Fran McCaffery’s club evened its Southern Conference record at 1-1 with an 87-63 win over visiting Appalachian State on Saturday. James Maye leads the team with a 13.1 scoring average and is hitting 48.9 percent from behind the arc. UNCG, 7-5 overall, plays at VMI on Tuesday.


THE NOT-SO-SWEET 17

11. Clemson

12. Davidson

13. North Carolina

14. Wofford

15. Furman

16. East Carolina ... Snow covered the ground surrounding Minges Coliseum, but that didn’t keep the Pirates fans from flocking to see ECU’s Conference USA opener on Saturday night. The near-capacity crowd was into the game early as the Pirates spurted to an 18-6 lead with an 11-0 run capped by a hoop by Damane Duckett — ECU’s answer to UNC’s Julius Peppers. Duckett is a defensive lineman for the football team and has quickly become a crowd favorite in basketball. When Duckett was fouled with 5:31 left and Cincinnati leading 56-50, he came to midcourt and motioned for Pirates fans to raise the roof. The energetic crowd erupted.

“The biggest cheer we’ve gotten in two-and-a-half years and it’s for a football player,” said ECU coach Bill Herrion.

Herrion made the statement for its humorous effect. He knows football drives the bus at ECU but if the way the Pirates went after Cincinnati is any indication, the men’s basketball program is progressing towards producing a greater balance in the overall athletic program. ECU did lose but it got the fans excited with a tremendous effort against a heavily-favored foe. There was appreciative applause for the Pirates at the final buzzer.

Herrion isn’t into moral victories and the real test is whether the Pirates can repeat their intensity, especially on the road. Continued fan support is vital.

“Like coach said, we don’t want moral victories,” said sophomore forward Erroyl Bing, who led the Pirates with 17 points. “But we learned if we compete hard, take care of the basketball and our shots fall, we can play with anybody.”

ECU had just 10 turnovers against one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Bearcats had forced an average of 17.6 turnovers in their previous games.

“We can’t back down,” said guard Kenyatta Brown, who hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the second half and scored 14 points. Brown also took a turn guarding Steve Logan, who finished with 24 points. There must be something about offense and the name, Steve Logan. ECU’s football coach directed the league’s highest-scoring offense and Cincinnati’s senior guard is contending for individual league scoring honors himself with a 22.6-point average.

The Pirates will be stronger with the addition of Gabriel Mikulas for Tuesday night’s game at UAB. Mikulas averaged a team-high 15.0 points last season but the NCAA mandated that he sit out 13 games for playing in unsanctioned international competition.

“I’ve kind of liked being the workhorse,” said Bing, who is averaging a team high in points (16.4) and rebounds (8.9). “But Gabe will help us inside. Everybody knows what he can do.”

With the students scheduled to return to classes today, the Pirates should have a good crowd for the Charlotte game on Saturday. ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick called the turnout for the Cincinnati game “phenomenal” under the weather conditions. With continued efforts like the one against Cincinnati, the question is when ECU will get its first C-USA win this season, not if. Being among the top 12 teams — out of 14 — that qualify for the league tournament in Cincinnati on March 6-9 would be a tremendous accomplishment.

ECU (6-7) saw a four-game winning streak stopped by the Bearcats, whose own winning streak was extended to 13 games. With Duke’s loss, Cincinnati’s winning streak is the longest in the nation.


17. Winthrop

18. South Carolina State

19. Western Carolina

20. Appalachian State

21. Elon

22. UNC Asheville

23. High Point

24. Charleston Southern

25. Coastal Carolina

26. Campbell

27. North Carolina A&T

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02/23/2007 12:58:20 AM
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