College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Thursday, April 3, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Notes: Miller kicks; Herrion picks; Roy to
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
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.
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
Herrion’s Final Four picks
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
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