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College Sports in the Carolinas


View from the East
Thursday, April 3, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Notes: Miller kicks; Herrion picks; Roy to Chapel Hill?


Put Sept. 30 on the calendar. ESPN has dictated a date for a weeknight football game for East Carolina during the 2003 season and, thankfully, it isn’t a Friday.

The Houston game in Greenville had been designated for either Sept. 30 or Oct. 1 when the Pirates originally announced this year’s schedule. ESPN has decreed that it will take the Tuesday, Sept. 30 slot. Kickoff time will be 7:30 p.m.

It will be the second nationally-televised game in the month of September for the Pirates, who open the John Thompson coaching era at Cincinnati at noon on Mon., Sept. 1. One of the ESPN networks will carry the ECU games with the Bearcats and the Cougars.

The Pirates open the 2003 season against the program they closed the 2002 season against. ECU officials have announced that the first home game with West Virginia on Sept. 6 will kickoff at 7 p.m. That will be Pirate Club Day. Game times for other ECU home football games will be announced later.

NFL teams looking at Miller

Former ECU kicker Kevin Miller, who became the Pirates all-time leading scorer during his senior season in 2002, worked out for the New York Giants on March 28 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and several more NFL teams are scheduled to evaluate Miller, who came to ECU on a golf grant. Ralph Vitolo of Fayetteville, a sports agent who has represented ex-ECU gridders such as former Green Bay Packer George Koonce and current Super Bowl champion Devone “Biscuit” Claybrooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said the pro scouts have been impressed by Miller’s accuracy and his ability to kick off of poor surfaces. Their main concern is about Miller’s distance on kickoffs.

Time change

ECU has been holding its spring football scrimmages at 9:15 on Saturday mornings but this Saturday’s scrimmage at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium has been pushed back to 1:30 p.m. The Pirates will host a high school football coaches clinic this weekend. There is no charge for the clinic or the scrimmage.

Herrion’s Final Four picks

East Carolina men’s basketball coach Bill Herrion picked the Sweet 16 for us last week and two of his four selections made the Final Four in New Orleans — Kansas and Syracuse. His other two picks, Kentucky and Arizona, were upset victims. Saturday’s semifinals send Kansas against Marquette of Conference USA and Syracuse against Texas. Coach Herrion shared his thoughts on how the remainder of the NCAA Tournament will play out:


Kansas vs. Marquette

Herrion: “Not that I’m not for the conference but I thought Kentucky would win the regional. But Dwyane Wade — he’s just put that team on his shoulders right now. Kansas-Marquette? You know I think Marquette is going to beat ’em. I’m saying that right now because they’re playing great. Dwyane Wade just kind of singlehandedly beat Kentucky but Marquette has a great point guard in (Travis) Diener and they have physical strength up front with (Scott) Merritt and Robert Jackson. They can match up with anybody. “Their supporting cast is good, too. (Todd) Townsend and (Steve) Novak are good and they are well-coached. “Kansas has two great seniors with Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich and you wonder if it’s time for (coach) Roy Williams to win one. But I don’t know. I think Marquette beats ’em. “You look at Marquette. They’ve beaten Pitt, a No. 2 seed, and they’ve beaten Kentucky, a No. 1. They’ve beat some pretty strong people to get where they’re at. Marquette does a good job of switching defenses. That kid Jackson played in the SEC at Mississippi State and Merritt is virtually seven feet. They can play all styles. Kansas will obviously try to get up and down the floor and Marquette can play that way. “If the situation call for slowdown in the half-court, they can play that way. They can pound it inside to Jackson and Merritt.

Syracuse vs. Texas

Herrion: “I think Texas is going to win that game. The key obviously against Syracuse is that you’ve got to hit shots against that zone. Oklahoma shot 5 for 28 on 3-pointers on Sunday. T.J. Ford for Texas is not a great shooter but I think he’s quick enough to penetrate and give that zone trouble. Royal Ivey, Brian Boddicker and Brandon Mouton can really shoot the 3s. I also think Texas can offensive rebound if they shoot and miss. “Texas — I like that team. I like their pieces. I like the point guard, Ford. They’ve got guys who can shoot it and they’ve got great physical strength up front. “With Syracuse, the key with them is that if you don’t make your shots against the 2-3 zone, you’re probably not going to win. Oklahoma couldn’t throw it in the ocean. I think people underestimate Syracuse’s zone. They say, ‘It’s just a 2-3 zone.’ But it’s so long and so athletic. Carmello Anthony (Syracuse freshman) might be the best player in the tournament. “But if Texas makes shots, they win. And they’re going to guard Syracuse on the other end. T.J. Ford hasn’t been shooting the ball well. He’s a top 10 NBA pick if he comes out. If he shoots the ball, that puts a whole different dimension on it.”

FINALS: Marquette vs. Texas

Herrion: “Even though I’m trying to be loyal to the league, I think Texas wins it all. To get to this point, obviously you’ve got to have a heckuva team. There’s not a great team in the country like some years when you have a Duke or Kentucky that’s head and shoulders above everybody else. In this year’s finals, I think Texas beats Marquette. “Texas has great depth. If they get in foul trouble, they’ve got some bodies to put in there. I think they beat ’em in a great game. Both can play up tempo and both can play half-court. “The Final Four is as balanced as It’s ever been. Typically, you’ve got one team that’s head and shoulders above the rest but I really think any of the four can win it this year. I don’t think there are any upsets at this point. “I’ve said from the beginning of the season that the Big 12 is hands down the best conference this year. If Oklahoma gets by Syracuse, they’ve got three of four in the Final Four. I think their league may have prepared them better. They have been in flat-out wars every night. “The Big 12 and the SEC are the two best leagues in the country right now. “A lot of people would like to see Roy Williams (Kansas coach) and Jim Boeheim (Syracuse coach) in the final. A lot of people in the northeast would love to see Boeheim get one. From a sentimental standpoint, there’s no question those two are the favorites. As a coach in this business I’d love to see one of those guys get one. “Roy Williams has been knocking on the door and the thing he’s going to be evaluated on the rest of his career is ‘Can he win the big one?’ ”


The basketball coaching vacancy at North Carolina might be to Roy Williams’ liking this time around, although he very publicly turned the job down three years ago and the Tar Heels eventually hired Matt Doherty.

A major factor in the current situation is Kansas athletics director Al Bohl, whom Williams plainly does not like. Bohl is meddlesome, according to sources, with an intent on developing a more competitive football program and he may resent Williams’ high profile status with the Jayhawks.

The delay in dismissing Doherty may have allowed some feelers to be extended Williams’ way. If Roy indicated interest, that may have greased the wheels to ride Doherty out.

With the shape the UNC program has been in, Williams might perceive less pressure to live up to the high standards when he was courted to be successor to Bill Guthridge, who went to Final Fours twice in his three years as head coach. Consider, too, that the prime movers on this year’s Kansas team, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich, are seniors, and that presents a degree of rebuilding if Williams stays at Kansas.

With a chance to immediately re-unite and re-energize the UNC fan base, money wouldn’t be an object for the Tar Heels to attract an alumnus and former assistant. Williams may win the NCAA title, click his heels and say ‘There’s no place like home’ but he wouldn’t be going back to Kansas.

Come to think of it, Larry Brown, another UNC guy, didn’t hang around long after leading the Jayhawks to their last national title in 1988. He left and Williams arrived for the following season.

The only thing wrong with developing scenarios, according to some UNC fans, is athletics director Dick Baddour. Confidence in his management style has eroded in the Carolina community and his misses — Roy, the first time, and Frank Beamer in football — have outweighed his hires.

Roy appears to be the cure for a lot of ills for the Tar Heels. He just has to say, ‘Yes.’

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02/22/2007 11:53:40 PM

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