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View from the East
Thursday, January 17, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Clairvoyant ex-LB Hamrick Also Knows Hoops


For a former linebacker from Marshall, Mike Hamrick has a surprising degree of basketball savvy. I was talking with the East Carolina athletic director on Tuesday when he apparently had a Miss Cleo moment.

“I’ve got a feeling about this Louisville game tomorrow night,” Hamrick said. “I think we may get our first win in Conference USA.”

I told a couple of folks about Hamrick’s semi-prediction but it had slipped my mind until I saw a cutaway on ESPN2 of ECU freshman Jonathan Moore dunking on a fast break. The cable sports network sensed the upset and reported that ECU led 70-62 with just over seven minutes left.

I tried to get the ECU radio broadcast on the internet but was unable to connect. I called my friendly Pirate Club rep, who can get 98.5 FM, a Pirates network affiliate, for about two minutes at a time on his kitchen radio. Then the signal fades out. He has to turn it off and turn it on again. Then he gets to listen for another two minutes.

“We’re up 10 with a minute left and we’re shooting free throws,” he said.

I remembered what Mike had said. I figured ECU fans would storm the court and saw the actual celebratory scene on ESPN 2 during Cincinnati’s blowout win over DePaul. The final: ECU 87, Louisville 77.

The Cardinals have a couple of national championship banners — 1980 and 1986 — hanging in the rafters at Freedom Hall. Cards coach Rick Pitino had won all the marbles while at Kentucky but his style didn’t work with the Boston Celtics — or in Greenville on Wednesday night.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall — the old saying rang true again. It was said in this column earlier this week that the Pirates needed to shoot better and they did — 24 of 48 from the field for 50 percent. Even better from behind the arc, 8 of 14 for 57.1 percent.

Brandon Hawkins was 5 for 5 from the field, including four 3s. Travis Holcomb-Faye had 20 points. Gabriel Mikulas hit all eight of his free throws and had 14 points. Moussa Badiane was 4 of 5 from the floor and blocked six shots!

Funny thing. Wasn’t it Louisville where those comments originated that ECU didn’t belong in Conference USA in basketball? Wonder what they’re saying now. ECU proved they do belong, a big feather in the cap of Pirates coach Bill Herrion. The first C-USA win drew a near-capacity crowd of 7,432 to Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

ECU has had very few bigger moments in basketball. Perhaps a case could be made for the Southern Conference Tournament championship in 1972 and the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament championship in 1993 being bigger because they resulted in NCAA Tournament berths.

The Pirates’ first C-USA win came on a day when the Charlotte Hornets announced they were departing for New Orleans. In contrast, the Pirates arrived in big-time basketball in impressive fashion.

Wonder if ECU will crack the Top 10 in the next State Line Hoops Report? Check it out Monday. Well, pardon the digression.

Historic Hoops Victory Overshadows Other Timely Pirate News

This column was going to lead with Leonard Henry’s preparation for the NFL combine in Indianapolis in late February. But the circumstances dictated that an attempt be made to put a huge basketball victory into proper perspective.

Henry has actually beaten the Hornets to New Orleans where he and Pirates quarterback David Garrard are working out under the supervision of conditioning guru Mackie Shilstone.

“The guy (Shilstone) knows his stuff,” Henry said. “He knows what the body can do.”

Shilstone’s energy-management system has helped individuals such as former baseball all-stars Brett Butler and Ozzie Smith, and former heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. Teams such as the Minnesota Vikings and Toronto Blue Jays have sought his counsel.

“A lot of what we’re doing is basic football stuff,” Henry said. “It’s nothing we haven’t done at East Carolina but we’re doing it at a very high intensity.”

Henry said he and Garrard have both signed with a New Jersey-based sports agency. Henry wants to gain a few pounds of muscle on his six-foot frame. He said Garrard was looking to shed a few pounds. Henry said he weighs 198 and would like to get up to 203 without losing any of his 4.45-second speed in the 40-yard dash. Henry has run that time in Greenville and New Orleans.

“I was a little disappointed that I didn’t run faster here,” Henry said. “But I’ll keep working on it. The weather has been killing us. We’ve been inside for the most part. The 40 is really just a 20-yard run because you just maintain your speed the last 20 yards. I know I can get better. It’s just a matter of progressing with my technique.”

N.C. State linebacker Levar Fisher and Tulane quarterback Patrick Ramsey are among the players who have also been enrolled in Shilstone’s program.

Garrard will be returning to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl on January 26, and perhaps the third time will be the charm for ECU’s career passing leader. Pirates fans don’t have to be reminded that ECU’s last two bowl losses have taken place there. Particularly gut wrenching was a 64-61 double-overtime loss to Marshall in the 2001 GMAC Bowl last month.

“I had to put that behind me,” said Henry, who ran for 195 yards and three touchdowns against the Thundering Herd. “If I was coming back for one more year at ECU, it would make me work that much harder for next season — but I’m not — so I had to let it go. I felt like I gave everything I could give. I felt like I left everything on the field for the university and my teammates.”

It will be on to Hawaii for Henry, who will play there in the Hula Bowl on February 2, the day before the Super Bowl. Hopefully ECU’s personnel losses will eventually be the NFL’s gain.

Comings and Goings: Former ECU Player Godette Peeved

Speaking of losses, it’s the time of year when coaches are making their exits from several staffs among the Division I programs in the Carolinas. Clemson defensive coordinator Reggie Herring bolted for Ole Miss. N.C. State defensive coordinator Buddy Green joined the staff at Navy. UNC offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has taken off for Vanderbilt.

Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato fired defensive line coach Cary Godette, a former ECU player and assistant, after two years on the State staff. Amato apparently was upset that Godette had looked into a position at Navy. Godette didn’t go quietly.

“I know football is a dictatorship but a man should be able to go look and see if another job would be good financially,” Godette told The News & Observer. “I went with Buddy to Navy to take a look. Chuck’s ego was fried by me looking at that job, I guess.”

Godette initimated that Green’s departure was evidence that all was not hunky-dory on the State staff.

“Buddy is a very successful defensive coach and (NCSU) alumnus,” Godette said. “For him to pull out ought to tell you that everything can’t be going that smoothly.”

Duke has hired Ted Roof from Georgia Tech to be defensive coordinator and also brought Rich McGeorge aboard as offensive line coach. Roof could have remained with the Yellow Jackets but liked the challenge and autonomy of the opportunity at Duke. McGeorge coached with Blue Devils coach Carl Franks with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL and on Steve Spurrier’s staff at Florida. McGeorge played for Elon and later, the Green Bay Packers.

More Shake-ups: Transfers, Suspensions, Dismissals, Arrests

There have also been some player moves. UNC offensive lineman Greg Woofter said he will transfer. South Carolina has lost running backs Derek Watson and Trevin Smith. Watson was dismissed from the team by coach Lou Holtz. A marijuana charge was the latest in a string of disciplinary incidents involving Watson. Smith plans to transfer to South Carolina State where he can remain a running back. Gamecocks coaches sought to move him into the secondary.

UNC sophomore fullback Kitwana Jones became the third Tar Heels player to run afoul of the law in recent weeks when he was charged with misdemeanor assault. He was already suspended from the program for violating team rules. Reserve quarterback Aaron Leak was arrested for auto theft prior to the Peach Bowl. Leak and a redshirt teammate allegedly stole the keys to a car at a party the weekend of the ECU football game and took the car. The alleged joy riders didn’t make the trip to the Peach Bowl and receiver Bosley Allen was sent home from Atlanta for having a “guest” in his hotel room during the bowl trip, a violation of team rules.

A final thought: It’s a strange year when UNC beats Florida State in football and the Seminoles beat the Tar Heels in basketball.

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02/23/2007 12:58:23 AM

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