College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Thursday, March 21, 2002
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer
Special Night in February Helped Sway Rivers
How big was a 51-46 win for the East Carolina men’s basketball team over
then-No. 9 Marquette on Feb. 26?
That victory may continue paying dividends for the Pirates over the next
four years with the career of incoming freshman Belton Rivers of Frederick
Douglass High School in Atlanta.
Rivers made his campus visit to ECU on the occasion of the Pirates’
landmark initial win over a Top 10 team and was impressed enough with the
Pirates’ frontcourt and the atmosphere at Williams Arena in Minges Coliseum
to make Greenville his college home.
“I picked East Carolina because I felt it was the right decision for me,”
said Rivers, who averaged 32 points and five assists, according to Astros
coach Frank Robinson.
“I liked the coaching staff,” said Rivers, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs
190 pounds. “The feel I got from the players was that I would fit in on
their team. I like the frontcourt people that they have.”
Capable frontcourt personnel can be a big enticement for guards. ECU’s
Moussa Badiane made the Conference USA All-Freshman team as he set a school
season record with 87 blocked shots and also a league mark with his average
of 3.6 blocks per game.
Gabriel Mikulas followed by his 2000-01 freshman season as Colonial
Athletic Association rookie of the year by averaging 11.8 points and 6.1
rebounds. And sophomore small forward Erroyl Bing averaged 12.6 points and
Rivers was also impressed with ECU’s home court environment.
“I liked the crowd,” Rivers said. “I liked how they stormed the court
after the win. It felt like everybody was a family.”
Robinson said Rivers is getting the job done in the classroom as well as
on the court. He has a 2.9 grade point average and will be eligible to play
next season, according to his coach.
“He’s a leader off and on the floor,” Robinson said. “He comes from a
family-oriented background. He has a strong mother.”
Rivers’ mother, Patricia, approved of Belvin’s college choice, according
to Robinson. Rivers’ father is deceased.
Other schools who recruited Rivers included South Carolina, Tulane,
Kansas State, Rutgers, Appalachian State and Mississippi State.
“He’s got arms like a cannon,”Robinson said. “He can play the point. He
can play the two guard. He’s got a nice shot. He can score. He’s very
competitive. He doesn’t back down from anything.”
Classes later start means more 3-a-days
East Carolina football coach Steve Logan said ECU’s later start for
classes in August may mean as many as 10 days of three practices each for
the Pirates. “Normally, we have about four days before classes start but
this year we’ll have about a week more which is a good thing for a young
team,” said the Pirates coach. More teaching time can only help an offense
that will have a first-time starter at quarterback.
Devils start spring workouts
The Pirates’ 2002 season-opening football opponent, Duke, is getting
ready to start its official offseason session. The Blue Devils, who have
lost 23 straight football games, begin spring practice on Monday (March 25)
with a workout in shorts and helmets. They will have 15 practice dates,
including a spring scrimmage at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday, April 13.
The Blue Devils will go in full pads for the first time on Friday, March 29.
Coach Carl Franks will have a youthful squad with just two seniors —
quarterback D. Bryant and linebacker Jamyon Small. In comparison with other
ACC teams, Duke has by far the smallest group of seniors. Following the Blue
Devils are Virginia with eights seniors, Maryland (12), North Carolina (13),
Clemson (14), Wake Forest (15), N.C. State (17), Florida State (23) and
Georgia Tech (29). ECU had 20 rising seniors on its spring roster. Duke’s
projected roster also includes 17 juniors, 29 sophomores, 13 redshirt
freshmen and 22 true freshmen.
There will be some changes on the defensive side of the ball after Duke
allowed an average of 44.6 points per game in 2001. New defensive
coordinator Ted Roof will coach the middle linebackers. Brad Sherrod
switches from coaching the inside linebackers to coaching the outside
linebackers. Denny Creehan, who coached Duke's outside linebackers last
season in addition to serving as special teams coordinator, will coach the
Blue Devil secondary.
There will also be some shuffling among playing personnel, including
former tailbacks Brendan Dewan and Jamin Pastore, who have moved to
linebacker and corner, respectively. Other moves include Chris Best from
noseguard to offensive guard, Cory Broadnax from outside linebacker to
defensive tackle, Micah Harris from linebacker to defensive end, Chad Rice
from linebacker to defensive end, Terrell Smith from corner to safety, Orrin
Thompson from defensive end to defensive tackle and Demetrius Warrick from
defensive end to defensive tackle.
Rehabilitation from surgery will keep five Duke players on the sideline
during spring workouts. That group includes long snapper/fullback Seth
Carter (shoulder), linebacker Kurt Miller (knee), linebacker Paul Pugsley
(knee), linebacker Jim Scharrar (shoulder) and offensive tackle Drew Strojny
Junior tailback Chris Douglas, who ran for 841 yards last season, is the
top returning rusher. Douglas also is Duke’s top returnee in four more
statistical categories — receiving (26 catches in 2001),
(48 points), all-purpose yards (1,849) and kickoff return yards (775).
Bryant passed for 2,454 yards as a junior and is second only to State’s
Philip Rivers in career passing yards in the ACC. Douglas, who has 1,342
career rushing yards, is third among returning ACC rushers in career yards
behind Tarence Williams of Wake Forest and Bruce Perry of Maryland.
No one at ECU should take the Blue Devils lightly despite Duke’s recent
struggles. They will start getting ready for the Pirates on Monday, are
significantly more experienced at the key position of quarterback, will be
highly-motivated to break their losing streak and will be playing on their
home field when ECU comes to Durham. Duke hosts ECU on August 31.
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02/23/2007 12:58:51 AM