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College Sports in the Carolinas
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View from the East
Thursday, September 12, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Cure turnovers or fans' focus may turn to hoops

©2002 Bonesville.net

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 hardwood.

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 that weekend.

“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 turnout.”

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.

Turnovers

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.

Injury list

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.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 12:59:32 AM
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