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College Sports in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Monday, October 28, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Deflating loss, inflated ball

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Students mix it up with roundball Pirates

Bill Herrion said he has always been able to nurse the roundball into the basket, so he said he didn’t embarrass himself playing “H-O-R-S-E” with a group of selected students at “Late Night with the Pirates” in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Friday night.

“I had no athletic ability but I could always shoot,” Herrion said.

The occasion developed in lieu of a “Midnight Madness” session to start practice in mid-October.

“The students were on fall break so that was kind of an oversight on my part in regard to the start of practice,” said the Pirates coach. “But we wanted to have a night to get students, fans and season ticket holders involved.”

It was estimated that about 700 fans came out to get a preview of the 2002-03 Pirates team.

“The turnout was more than I anticipated,” Herrion said. “We were finishing up practice when they started letting people in so we only scrimmaged about 10 minutes. The night before we had scrimmaged 2 1/2 hours with refrerees.”

Fans were treated to a dunk contest that produced co-winners Devon Boddie and Moussa Badiane. Boddie, a sophomore guard, was something of a surprise in that competition.

There was some fan involvement as well with ECU assistants teaming with students in a 3-point shooting contest. That was won by ECU assistant George Stackhouse and student Chad Hicks.

One student emerged from the “H-O-R-S-E” competition with a chance to win tuition and books for the spring semester with two attempts from halfcourt. But he missed.

Herrion was pleased with the degree of interest shown in the team and feels encouraged about preseason workouts.

“We have to be careful about being too optimistic,” he said. “But the attitudes have been good and the kids are competing hard. We’re stronger physically from top to bottom. We have to go on the road and win early and we get a chance at Middle Tennessee the first game (Nov. 22)."

The Pirates return to Greenville to play their first home game against Ole Miss on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.

For those wanting another chance to take a preseason glimpse at the Pirates, the team will be on display this Saturday with a scrimmage at 11:30 a.m. in the basketball arena.

From 1 to 2 p.m., fans can “Meet the Pirates” at the Murphy Center and get autographs. Tickets for lunch at the Murphy Center are $7. Call (252) 328-4530 for more information.

ECU has upcoming exhibitions at home against the Marine Corps at 7 p.m. on Nov. 7 and the EA Sports All-Stars at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12.

Deflating loss, inflated ball

ECU took its first football loss in Conference USA play, 44-20, at Louisville on Saturday with quarterback Paul Troth struggling with pinpointing his passes. Troth completed 14 of 36 for 211 yards with no touchdowns, one interception and one sack.

“I was reading fine,” Troth said. “I was just a little inaccurate.”

Back-up Desmond Robinson completed 2 of 5 for 18 yards with no scores and no picks but he was sacked twice.

One factor that might explain ECU’s 39.0 completion percentage was the air pressure of the new Wilson model footballs which the Pirates use. Coach Steve Logan said the Pirates like 12.5 pounds of air pressure in the balls, which he said is legal, but Logan said the game officials took the ECU game balls and increased the air pressure to 14 pounds.

Taped replays also showed that the officials took away a touchdown by ruling receiver Richard Alston was out of bounds when he actually got both feet down in the end zone.

It wasn’t a good game for the Pirates on either side of the ball or on the scoreboard. ECU’s running game, which had been averaging 129.7 yards, was limited to a net of 68. Art Brown was held to 56 yards, less than half his average coming into the game.

On the other hand, Louisville rushed for 204 yards despite averaging just 102.4 previously, a C-USA low. And Cards QB Dave Ragone had an exceptional day as he completed 23 of 32 with five touchdowns, no interceptions and three sacks.

It was a flashback to last year when ECU’s defense allowed an average of 261.0 passing yards per game, the highest in C-USA. It was a better effort for Ragone than in Louisville’s 39-34 win in Greenville in 2001, when he was 22 of 34 for 292 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

ECU worked to improve its pass defense in the offseason with schematic and personnel changes. The Pirates had improved their average passing yards allowed to 189.5 going into the Louisville game.

Logan may buy graduation presents for Ragone and Cards defensive end Dewayne White, the league defensive player of the year in 2001 who had two sacks on Saturday against ECU. The Pirates coach will be glad when the duo moves on to the NFL and who could blame him?

'Pack laps the field

N.C. State clearly established itself as the premier program in the Carolinas by whipping Clemson 38-6 in Death Valley before a national television audience. That reaffirms the Wolfpack’s position atop the State Line Power Rankings and no one else is even on the lead lap.

Now, on to the Carolinas pecking order:


STATE LINE POWER RANKINGS©
  1. N.C. State ... The Wolfpack is 9-0 for the first time in school history.
  2. South Carolina ... The Gamecocks were idle but moved past Clemson into second.
  3. Clemson ... Coach Tommy Bowden plans to simplify the offense after a poor showing.
  4. Wake Forest ... Deacons play their most complete game in beating UNC 31-0.
  5. East Carolina ... The Pirates have plenty to work on during another bye week.
  6. North Carolina ... The Heels have backed up after a promising start under John Bunting.
  7. Duke ... The Blue Devils went retro against Maryland, looking like losers of the last two years.
SNAPSHOTS FROM AROUND THE CAROLINAS

N.C. STATE (9-0, 4-0 ACC)

The Wolfpack made a statement at Clemson on national television for the benefit of those of us who had questioned the strength of their non-conference schedule. Philip Rivers is being talked about for the Heisman Trophy and State fans are talking about running the table. Georgia Tech is the next step at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Raleigh.

SOUTH CAROLINA (5-3, 3-2 SEC)

The Gamecocks this week were like ECU last week — an open date with plenty of issues to address. USC looks to regroup at Tennessee on Saturday from an Oct. 19 blowout by LSU.

CLEMSON (4-4, 2-3 ACC)

As the Tigers look to bounce back from a severe thrashing, Duke is just the team they want to see on their schedule — the Blue Devils that were mauled by Maryland on Saturday, not the group that almost knocked off NCSU. The Tigers and Devils kick off at noon on Saturday.

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

The Deacons’ reward for their first shutout of UNC since 1966 is a smarting bunch of Florida State Seminoles, coming off a 34-24 loss to Notre Dame. Still, the Deacons are a win away from bowl eligibility for the second straight year with the Noles visiting Saturday at 4 p.m. (ESPN 2).

EAST CAROLINA (2-5, 2-1 C-USA)

The feeling in the program is that one loss doesn’t eliminate the Pirates from contention for the league championship but it leaves no margin for error. ECU must get going to make a fourth straight bowl trip and avoid a losing season for the first time since 1997. Next up is a game at Houston at 3 p.m. on Nov. 9 (WITN-7).

NORTH CAROLINA (2-6, 0-4 ACC)

The Tar Heels are beaten up physically, emotionally and mentally. There wasn’t a lot to distinguish their caliber of play on Saturday from that which led to the dismissal of Carl Torbush two years ago. Maryland visits Chapel Hill at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

DUKE (2-7, 0-5 ACC)

Duke added a degree of respectability in its 45-12 loss to Maryland by scoring twice in the fourth quarter after trailing 45-0. It’s back to the drawing board for Coach Carl Franks and his charges, who host Clemson at noon on Saturday.
 

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02/23/2007 12:59:23 AM
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