What happens at many area schools when the football team struggles is
that fans start looking ahead to basketball season.
It’s hard to imagine that happening at East Carolina. But the Pirates are
off to an 0-2 start and unless the deluge of turnovers is stifled against
Tulane at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday night, the basketball team’s
potential could evolve into an earlier-than-usual focus of conversation.
The ECU cagers certainly exceeded expectations last season with five
Conference USA wins at home, including victories over Louisville and No. 10
Marquette. Those were some of the most exciting moments ever for ECU on the
Pirates men’s basketball coach Bill Herrion is planning a midnight
madness session to open practice at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on
Saturday morning at midnight on Oct. 12. The football team has an open date
“We did that my first year here and I just think we need to pick up on
the excitement where we left off last season,” Herrion said. “It’s obviously
for the fans, the community and the students. I think we’ll get a good
The Pirates will also be on preseason display on Oct. 19, the morning
before the Pirates host South Florida in football at 2 p.m.
“That will be a Purple-Gold game, probably around 11 a.m. so people who
are tailgating can drop in and take a look,” Herrion said.
The Pirates can currently spend eight hours a week in workouts. The
players are in weight training sessions three days a week with strength and
conditioning coach Jim Whitten. They also are doing individual drills with
the coaches, although no more than four players may be involved
simultaneously by NCAA regulations.
Jason Herring, the forward who sat out last season and hurt his knee in
an automobile accident in May, will remain on scholarship at ECU on a
medical disqualification, according to Herrion. That allowed the Pirates to
add a scholarship player just before classes started in August.
Herrion went for some frontcourt depth that Herring was supposed to
provide with the addition of junior college transfer Garth Grindley.
Grindley is 6-feet-8 1/2 and 250 pounds, a native of Jamaica who had been
playing the last two seasons at Monroe College in the Bronx, NY. He averaged
10.0 points, six rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last year.
“Greg Herenda (ECU assistant) saw him last spring and he’s a great kid
with a great attitude,” Herrion said. “We probably wouldn’t have taken him
as late as we did if things didn’t add up in terms of attitude and work
ethic. We have Gabriel Mikulas, Moussa Badiane and Erroyl Bing returning in
the frontcourt but we felt like we still needed some depth.”
Pirates home basketball games on March 5 with Marquette and March 8 with
Saint Louis are in the process of being shifted in order to accommodate the
Eastern regionals of the high school playoffs.
At a time of heightened security awareness on Wednesday, the anniversary
of the Sept. 11 attacks, Herrion flew into the Newark airport with Herenda
on a recruiting trip. A year ago the ECU-Syracuse football game was
postponed because of the terrorists' actions.
Let’s don’t forget to be thankful that the games can even be played in
the aftermath and be mindful of those who are no longer around to share the
freedoms and privileges this country enjoys.
Think East Carolina is having turnover problems?
Mistakes were frequent in Tulane’s 34-13 win at Houston last week. The
Green Wave lost possession five times but the Cougars topped that with seven
turnovers. Houston lost a fumble at Tulane’s 5-yard line with the Green Wave
holding a scant 14-10 lead. The bobble was returned 95 yards for a touchdown
that sparked the Wave’s 2-0 start.
“They just handed it to us several different times,” said Tulane coach
Chris Scelfo. “... If you had told me we could turn it over five times and
win the ball game, I would have told you you were crazy because there was no
way we could have beaten Houston without their help.”
Ultimatum to Art
ECU coach Steve Logan has expressed a sort of ultimatum to Pirates
running back Art Brown as a result of losing two fumbles in two games.
“The turnovers that bother me are the fumbles that (resulted when) Art
Brown has been hit from behind twice, and I talked to Art about that,” Logan
said. “If that continues to be a characteristic of his, he can’t play. He’s
not going to play, even as talented as he is. We’re going to do everything
we can drill-wise to make sure his ball awareness goes up.”
The good news
Richard Alston reportedly went full speed in practice on Tuesday and that
means the Pirates wide receiver may be back for the Tulane game after
missing last week’s trip to Wake Forest due to mononucleosis. Offensive
tackle Phoenix Evans, who went down early in the Wake game with an ankle
injury, is expected to be available against the Green Wave.
Freshman defensive end Ike Emodi was complaining of leg pain after the
Duke game but X-rays were negative. Then Emodi tried to pass rush in
practice on Tuesday before the Wake Forest game and went down in anguish. A
fracture was subsequently discovered and he’s out. A pulled stomach muscle
has kept sophomore quarterback Desmond Robinson from spelling Paul Troth.