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College Hoops in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Tuesday, March 5, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Now That They're 'In', Pirates Aim Higher

©2002 Bonesville.net

East Carolina sealed its berth in the Conference USA Tournament by beating No. 9 Marquette 51-46 in Greenville last Tuesday and the Pirates are getting ready to meet Houston at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Firstar Center in Cincinnati in the first round of the league tournament.

ECU defeated the Cougars 63-46 in Greenville on February 23.

“Our kids should believe and have confidence because we’ve already beaten them,” said Pirates coach Bill Herrion.

Still, Herrion is well aware of the do-or-die situation that exists in tournament settings.

“Once you get to the conference tournament, it’s one (loss) and done,” he said. “When we beat them in Greenville they were one of the hottest teams in the league.”

Indeed. The Cougars came to Greenville with a three-game winning streak that included a win at Memphis, the third-seeded team in the league tournament.

“We were very concerned about their inside game,” Herrion said. “With (Louis) Truscott, (Patrick) Okafor and (George) WIlliams, their inside game was a big challenge and we challenged our frontcourt kids — (Gabriel) Mikulas, (Moussa) Badiane and (Erroyl) Bing. We played a lot of zone to keep our big guys out of foul trouble and make them shoot jump shots.”

Herrion has been pleased with the results his team has gotten from its zone coverage in winning four of its last six games.

The Pirates didn’t win on the road this season but the conference tournament is considered a neutral setting. ECU opened its season by beating Rutgers and Northwestern on a neutral floor, the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh, in the Black Coaches Association Tournament.

“We didn’t win on the road but some of those losses were in November and December when we didn’t have some of our guys,” Herrion said. “One reason we played in Raleigh was to prepare for March — a big arena, a neutral floor.”

Badiane and Mikulas joined the team late because of sanctions from the NCAA for competing in unapproved foreign leagues.

“We’ve played some decent road games,” Herrion said. “We had a chance at TCU but we didn’t make plays at the end and TCU did.”

The Pirates completed the regular season at 12-17 with the 66-63 loss to the Horned Frogs on Saturday night. ECU went 5-11 in C-USA in its first season in the league.

“Our goal was to try and get into the conference tournament,” Herrion said. “But in March you rearrange your goals. Now we’re one of 12 teams with a chance to win this thing and go to the NCAA Tournament. But none of that happens if we don’t win our first game here so that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Cougars' Gaines Still Incarcerated <<< Jump to Top of Page >>>

Houston had its problems before leaving Greenville after its loss to ECU. In fact, sophomore guard Kevin Gaines remains in E block of the Pitt County Detention Center after being arrested for assault on a female in the early morning hours after the game with the Pirates. Additional check forging charges in Michigan increased his bail to over $10,000.

A source said Gaines spat on the floor after being brought to the jail, then said, “I’m a star. My coach will be here to get me out.”

Cougars coach Ray McCallum couldn’t bail Gaines out. That would be an NCAA violation. So Gaines is sitting in a two-man cell where he is locked down for 20 hours a day. He gets four hours for recreation, grooming and has access to a phone during his time out of his cell. He is expected to have a hearing next week.

McCallum also suspended senior guard Dominic Smith, Truscott and junior guard Marcus Oliver for one game for violating team rules on the trip to ECU.

Smith scored 20 points while Truscott and Oliver tallied 12 each as the Cougars closed the regular season with a 76-72 win over UAB at home on Saturday. Smith leads the team with a 15.8 scoring average and Truscott is second at 13.1. Oliver averages 5.2 points.

Gaines played in 21 games. He was averaging 10.0 points and a team-high 5.5 assists.

ECU has a mandatory shoot-around at the league tournament site from noon to 1 p.m. today. Then the Pirates will adjourn to a health club for additional practice.

Herrion said the temperatures were “freezing” Monday evening — “in the 20s.” He said he was told the temperatures on Wednesday were expected to warm up to the 50s. If ECU has a hot shooting touch, they could well advance past Houston.

Conference tournaments are rampant. Some have been completed. Some await. Let’s check the State Line Hoops Report.

JUMP TO THE STATE LINE HOOPS REPORT© CAPSULE ON EAST CAROLINA...

State Line Hoops Report© — 03/05/02

THE TOP TEN

1. Duke ... Junior guard Jason Williams scored 37 points in what is expected to be his last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Blue Devils whalloped North Carolina 93-68 on Sunday. Duke (26-3) bounced back effectively from a confounding 87-84 loss at Virginia earlier in the week and will meet the Tar Heels again in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at the Charlotte Coliseum at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Duke-UNC winner will play the Wake Forest-Georgia Tech winner in the semifinals at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Williams is averaging 21.9 points and 5.3 assists. Carlos Boozer is averaging 18.4 and 8.7 rebounds. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is averaging 17.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.

2. Wake Forest ... The Deacons responded to a 90-77 loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Wednesday by downing N.C. State 83-71 as seniors Darius Songaila, Craig Dawson, Broderick Hicks, Antwan Scott and Ervin Murray played their final home game on Saturday. Songaila had 20 points, 16 in the second half, and a career-high 18 rebounds. Wake (19-10) dropped out of the Top 25 in both major polls going into the ACC Tournament where the Deacons will play Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. Wake’s 9-7 league mark is its first winning record in ACC play since the 1997 team went 11-5 in Tim Duncan’s senior season. Wake freshman Vytas Danelius is third in the league in field goal percentage at 57.9.

3. N.C. State ... Andy Katz of ESPN is reporting that Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek has one year left on his contract at State and might flirt with the job opening at Texas Christian in order to enhance his bargaining position with NCSU athletics director Lee Fowler. Katz noted that Sendek is a friend of TCU athletics director Eric Hyman. State (20-9) matches up with Virginia in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at 2:30 p.m. on Friday with the winner advancing to a 1:30 p.m. semifinal on Saturday against Friday’s winner between regular-season champion Maryland and the survivor of Thursday’s 7 p.m. play-in game between Florida State and Clemson.

4. Charlotte ... The 49ers (17-10) appear to have a huge advantage with a bye in the Conference USA Tournament in Cincinnati. Charlotte, 11-5 in C-USA, earned the No. 4 seeding for the event and all four of the top seeds get first round byes before playing on Thursday against a team that played the previous day. To the victors go the spoils. Charlotte matches up against Wednesday’s winner between fifth-seeded Saint Louis and 12th-seeded Tulane on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. The 49ers are the defending champions. They’re getting 19.4 points per game from Jobey Thomas and must refocus after a 90-88 overtime loss at Louisville on Saturday. Cam Stephens averages 13.7 points and 9.7 rebounds for the Niners.

5. South Carolina ... The Gamecocks stumbled to the finish line of the regular season with three straight losses, including setbacks last week at No. 15 Georgia (82-75) on Wednesday and at home to Mississippi State (64-57) on Saturday. The downturn drops USC to 16-13 overall and 6-10 in the SEC with a trip to the NIT likely unless the Gamecocks win the SEC Tournament. South Carolina guard Jamel Bradley earned third team All SEC honors. Bradley, a senior from Beckley, W. Va., leads the team with a 13.4 scoring average. The Gamecocks play Ole Miss in their SEC Tournament opener in the Georgia Dome at 9:45 p.m. on Thursday with the winner meeting Kentucky at 9:45 p.m. on Friday.

6. UNC Wilmington ... The Seahawks are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history with a 66-51 win over Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament on Monday night. UNCW (22-9) got 22 points from Brett Blizzard. The Rams fell behind 28-10 in the first 10 minutes and got no closer than eight points the rest of the way. The Seahawks won the event for the second time in three years as Craig Callahan contributed 11 points and Ed Williams added 10. Their reward in 2000 was a first-round matchup in the Big Dance with Cincinnati. They’ll find out Sunday who, when and where they’ll play again.

7. Davidson ... The Wildcats defeated Furman 62-57 on Sunday in the Southern Conference Tournament championship and earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Peter Anderer had 19 of his 22 points in the second half as Davidson earned its seventh trip to the NCAA event. “We’re not just going to make an appearance,” announced Chris Pearson, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds against Furman. “We’re there to win a game.” Davidson (21-9) won for the 11th straight time over the Paladins.

8. College of Charleston ... About the best the Cougars (21-9) can hope for after a 44-43 loss to Furman in the Southern Conference semifinals on Saturday is an NIT bid. C of C’s league tournament run included an 85-61 win over Appalachian State in the first round and a 76-75 overtime win over East Tennessee State in the quarterfinals as Jeff Bolton scored a game-high 33 points. Leighton Bowie led the Cougars in their semifinal setback with 18 points and nine rebounds.

9. UNC Greensboro ... The Spartans (20-10) lost to Davidson 68-58 in the Southern Conference semifinals in North Charleston, S.C. as James Maye led the losing effort with 16 points. UNCG struggled with its shooting, going 22 of 60 from the field for 36.7 percent and 10 of 16 at the line (62.5 percent). They were a woeful 4 of 22 from 3-point land for 18.2 percent. Seniors Courtney Eldridge and David Schuck will be the top losses for Coach Fran McCaffery’s program.

10. Clemson ... With a realistic chance to do something no Tigers team had ever done — win a game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Clemson (13-16) fell well short as they lost 96-78 to the Tar Heels on Wednesday night. That put the Tigers at 13-16 overall and 4-12 in the ACC with losses in 11 of their last 13 games. Tony Stockman’s 30 points were the highlight at UNC. Edward Scott scored 36 in the previous game, an 87-78 win at home against Florida State on Feb. 23. The Tigers face the Seminoles again in the play-in game of the ACC Tournament at 7 p.m. on Thursday.


THE NOT-SO-SWEET 17

11. The Citadel
12. North Carolina
13. Furman
14. Gardner-Webb

15. East Carolina ... ECU made one of its best showings on the road this season but came up just short in the regular-season finale at TCU on Saturday, losing 66-63 to the Horned Frogs. Big numbers for the Pirates included 15 rebounds by sophomore Erroyl Bing and 10 assists by junior Travis Holcomb-Faye. Coach Bill Herrion’s first recruit, Holcomb-Faye, had 15 points and six assists in ECU’s landmark 51-45 win over No. 9 Marquette on Feb. 26, the Pirates first victory ever over a Top 10 team. High school star Belton Rivers, a point guard from the Atlanta area, was making a campus visit that night and had to be impressed with the supportive atmosphere in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. Herrion made a recruiting trip to Boston the following day. ECU (12-17) was in Cincinnati on Monday night preparing for its first game in the Conference USA Tournament, a matchup with Houston at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The winner plays third-seeded Memphis at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Pirates beat the Cougars 63-46 in Greenville on Feb. 23. Bing leads ECU in scoring with a 12.6 average and in rebounding at 8.9. Gabriel Mikulas is averaging 12.2 points and 6.0 rebounds. Kenyatta Brown is averaging 11.5 points and Holcomb-Faye is averaging 4.1 assists. Good shooting has been a key in most of ECU’s wins this season. The Pirates are averaging 39.2 percent on field goal attempts, 31.2 percent on their 3-point tries and 68.8 percent on free throws.

16. Winthrop
17. Appalachian State
18. Wofford
19. Western Carolina
20. South Carolina State
21. UNC Asheville
22. N.C. A&T
23. Elon
24. Charleston Southern
25. Campbell
26. High Point
27. Coastal Carolina

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02/23/2007 12:58:47 AM
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