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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Monday, November 25, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Hoops beginning to help pull the wagon

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©2002 Bonesville.net

East Carolina hasn’t had many weekends to beat this one — a solid 2-0 start in men’s basketball and a 31-28 football win over No. 22 Texas Christian.

A 65-58 men’s basketball win over a veteran Ole Miss team capped a productive Pirate weekend on a beautifully-sunny Sunday in Greenville.

It’s a sign of a broad-based athletics program, which has always been the vision of ECU athletics director Mike Hamrick since he arrived at ECU in 1995.

“I really knew and believed this could happen,” Hamrick said as he left Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum after the win over the Rebels. “If you follow the basketball program you could see the leaps and bounds in improvement it has made in the last three or four years. It’s a big win for us and I’m excited.”

The big three sports at ECU and most schools — football, men’s basketball and baseball — all have basis for optimism.

Pirates fans should be thankful at Thanksgiving.

“I think the reason why is that we’ve got good people here,” Hamrick said. “We’ve got good coaches and we’ve got everything we need in place. I’ve said ever since I’ve been here that we can be a factor in college basketball at East Carolina. We’ve got fan support. We’ve got facilities. We’ve got the resources, and in my mind, we’ve got the coach.”

The Rebels have four starters back from a team that went 20-11 and made the NCAA Tournament, but they were unable to match the energy of the Pirates and their supportive fans down the stretch in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

ECU basketball coach Bill Herrion said fans may have felt like the whole university was on a roll after the football victory that kept the Pirates’ Conference USA title and bowl hopes alive. On Friday night, Herrion’s club got its season started by snapping a 17-game road losing streak with a 65-63 win at Middle Tennessee State.

“It was a feel-good thing for all of our fans,” Herrion said. “It might have put more people in the seats today. People might have said ‘This is a great weekend. Let’s go get one more against Mississippi.’ The bottom line is that it’s good if we all win.”

Herrion has talented players and directs them well in a system that emphasizes defense first. Personnel limitations required that ECU play a lot of 2-3 zone last season but Ole Miss saw the man-to-man style that the fourth-year ECU coach prefers.

The change indicates the program is growing and gives it Herrion’s personal stamp. All of the players from senior point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye on down are his recruits.

Herrion took advantage of his post-game news conference to get on a soap box for a moment. He was pleased that 6,332 fans showed up to see the Ole Miss game and lend their support to ECU but he said that the Pirates need a similar turnout for a home game against William & Mary this Saturday at 7 p.m.

Fans need to come see the Pirates — regardless of who ECU is playing. It’s a plea football coach Steve Logan has made on occasion as well. It would be healthy for ECU to outgrow its perception as a football school. Logan would love to have some help as the main breadwinner for the athletic department’s budget.

That’s not saying that anybody wants the Pirates not to play exciting and winning football as they certainly did on Saturday. It would just be good for basketball to catch up and, based on Sunday’s performance, that may be happening now.

NOTE TO E-MAILERS

At the moment I can receive e-mail messages through my Bonesville account but I am not able to reply due to a technical situation that we hope to get fixed shortly. I received a considerable volume of messages after the column that ran last Friday and I’m sorry I can’t respond to those who took the time to share some thoughts with me. Let me thank Keith Taylor, Chris Smith and young Ike Riddick in particular for their recent messages.

DEACONS, PIRATES MOVE UP

N.C. State validated all the hype surrounding its 9-0 start against an unimpressive schedule by beating No. 14 Florida State 17-7 for the program’s first 10-win season. That strengthened the Wolfpack’s hold on the top spot in the State Line Power Rankings©. South Carolina’s fifth straight loss dropped the Gamecocks into fifth place as Wake Forest and East Carolina each moved up a notch. North Carolina’s dramatic squeaker over Duke established the bottom layers of the Carolinas Division I-A pecking order.


STATE LINE POWER RANKINGS©
  1. N.C. State ... The Pack looks dominant in its third win against the ACC’s premier program.
  2. Clemson ... The Tigers get a big game from freshman Charlie Whitehurst and earn bragging rights.
  3. Wake Forest ... The Deacons become bowl eligible after rallying to edge 1-10 Navy.
  4. East Carolina ... Pirates use seven turnovers to stun No. 22 TCU and stay in C-USA hunt.
  5. South Carolina ... The Gamecocks season went south with five losses to finish 5-7.
  6. North Carolina ... The Heels are just good enough to beat Duke on a game-ending field goal.
  7. Duke ... Losses don’t come much tougher than the heartbreaker that left the Blue Devils 2-10.
SNAPSHOTS AROUND THE CAROLINAS

N.C. STATE (10-3, 5-3 ACC)

The Wolfpack’s defense limited Florida State to 177 total yards of offense in Raleigh with much of that coming after Chris Rix came in at quarterback for the Seminoles in the final minutes and replaced Adrian McPherson. The Noles went without an offensive touchdown for just the second time in 14 seasons. Still, FSU wrapped up its 10th ACC title and a BCS bowl berth with Virginia’s surprising 48-13 win over Maryland. NCSU expects to go to the Gator Bowl or the Peach Bowl.

CLEMSON (7-5, 4-4 ACC)

Tigers freshman Charlie Whitehurst completed 27 of 38 for 287 yards and ran 11 yards for the tying touchdown as Clemson erased a 20-13 South Carolina lead in the fourth quarter with two scores for a 27-20 win at home. The Tigers led 27-12 in first downs, 432-330 in total yardage and had over seven minutes more in possession time. Clemson has won five of its last six against its state rivals to lead the series 60-36-4. The Tigers are bowl eligible and its large fan base makes the program appealing to selection committees.

WAKE FOREST (6-5, 3-4 ACC)

Amid reports of Baylor’s interest in Deacons coach Jim Grobe, Wake rallied after a two-week layoff to edge Navy 30-27 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Fabian Davis with just 53 seconds remaining. Grobe insisted he’s happy with the program that became bowl eligible with the victory but the Bears can probably put together a nice financial package. Wake’s bowl hopes likely hinge on whether they can finish the regular season at Maryland with a win at noon this Saturday.

EAST CAROLINA (4-6, 4-2 C-USA)

The fair weather fans weren’t there but the Pirates stilled the chill at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday with a heart-warming 31-28 upset of league leading TCU. The Horned Frogs had won eight straight and were ranked No. 22 but the Pirates hung around despite five turnovers. TCU had seven turnovers, the biggest of which turned the game — an 81-yard strip and return for a touchdown by Pirates safety Travis Heath with 8:46 to play. Richard Alston hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from Paul Troth and Kevin Miller kicked three field goals. TCU’s hopes for overtime went wide left with a missed 40-yard field goal by Nick Browne with 25 seconds left. The Pirates will be playing to stay in contention for the league title and to keep their bowl hopes alive at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Southern Miss.

SOUTH CAROLINA (5-7, 3-5 SEC)

The Gamecocks did a U-turn after starting 5-2. They couldn’t ever muster that sixth win for bowl eligibility as they closed out with five straight losses. They were in position to win at Clemson on Saturday night with a 20-13 lead in the fourth quarter but point production once again was a problem. A scoreless fourth quarter for coach Lou Holtz’s team resulted in a 27-20 Clemson win. USC scored just 51 points in its last five games and the situation didn’t improve despite a quarterback change.

NORTH CAROLINA (3-9, 1-7 ACC)

Dan Orner, who had missed two field goal attempts and an extra point, came through when it counted with a 47-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Tar Heels to a 23-21 win at Duke on Saturday. UNC won for the 13th straight time in the series and ended a six-game losing streak this season. Darian Durant returned at quarterback for the Heels after missing five games with a thumb injury on his throwing hand and moved UNC into position for the game-winning kick after Duke had taken a 21-20 lead with 53 seconds left.

DUKE (2-10, 0-8 ACC)

Carl Franks will remain as the coach of the Blue Devils after a 23-21 loss to rival North Carolina dropped his four year record at his alma mater to 5-40. That was the postgame word from Duke athletics director Joe Alleva. Franks reportedly has one year left on his contract. The Blue Devils showed improvement in 2002 and did not have a senior playing in the season finale. Senterrio Landrum caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Adam Smith for a 21-20 Duke lead with 53 seconds to go on Saturday but Duke’s defense couldn’t keep the Tar Heels from moving for a deciding 47-yard field goal by Dan Orner as the game ended.
 

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02/23/2007 12:59:10 AM
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