College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Thursday, January 17, 2002
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer
Clairvoyant ex-LB Hamrick Also
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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,
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.
Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.
Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville
02/23/2007 12:58:23 AM