Bonesville's exclusive weekly Internet radio program,
BONESVILLE HUDDLE, featuring insightful
give-and-take between columnists Al Myatt, Brian Bailey
and Denny O'Brien. (Posted in Windows Media Format each
week, usually on Wednesdays, for streaming on demand.)
A few football notes before we focus on basketball:
New East Carolina football coach John Thompson told an
ardent Pirates supporter at the signing day festivities last Wednesday that
he is considering moving ECU to the south sideline at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Thompson recalled an incident when he was defensive
coordinator at Southern Miss that got him thinking about the move.
Obviously, switching sidelines would keep the Pirates from facing into the
sun when the weather is warmer. It would put the opposing team in front of
the ECU student section.
The Pirates have been on the south side before. It’s
something to think about and, apparently, Thompson is.
Thompson isn’t the long head coach in the region looking for
an offensive coordinator. Four ACC teams have vacancies in addition to the
Pirates. That group includes N.C. State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and
Virginia. The Pirates apparently were waiting to see if Stanford hired Noel
Mazzone, the Oregon State running backs coach and former Auburn OC. The
waiting line for offensive coordinators seems to be getting longer.
Offensive lineman L.A. Watson of Heritage High in Lynchburg,
Va. committed to ECU before Thompson was named head coach. After seeing
Watson on tape, Thompson told Watson he probably wouldn’t play at ECU
although he would honor the scholarship. Watson, who had been recruited by
former ECU receivers coach Bob Leahy, opted for Division I-AA Richmond.
“We’re happy for L.A.,” Thompson said at last Wednesday’s news conference.
Since L.A. undoubtedly wants to play, he’s probably happy, too.
On to basketball
Coaches talk about being in position to win. East Carolina
was definitely out of position with just under nine minutes left against
Southern Miss in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Saturday night.
The Pirates needed a win in terms of qualifying for the
Conference USA Tournament at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. on March 12-15,
but the shots just weren’t falling and ECU trailed the Golden Eagles 50-41
when Derrick Wiley drove for a lay-up and was fouled with 8:29 to go. Wiley
converted a 3-point play the old fashioned way and then Travis Holcomb-Faye
dropped a pair of 3-pointers from behind the arc for a tie game.
By that time, the crowd of 5,545 had recovered from the
agony of watching ECU shoot 30.3 percent in the first half and was into the
game. The Pirates completed a 15-0 run for a 56-50 lead as Wiley had two
baskets and Gabriel Mikulas dropped two free throws.
Southern Miss managed just one field goal in the final 8:53
and ECU took a big step toward qualifying for the C-USA Tournament with a
“We want to go the league tournament,” said Wiley, who had
17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half. “We want to win that and
go to the bigger dance.”
Holcomb-Faye warmed up for 14 of his 16 points in the second
half and Erroyl Bing snatched 14 rebounds as the Pirates outboarded Southern
Miss, 45-31. ECU hasn’t shot over 40 percent from the field in its last
eight games but managed to hit 42.4 percent in the second half against the
“The kids really persevered,” said Pirates coach Bill
Herrion. “... I was just very concerned about this time of year and whether
winning was still a priority with these kids. I think the kids showed a
tremendous amount of resolve and resiliency just bouncing back.”
The outcome ended a three-game losing streak for ECU (12-9,
3-7 C-USA), which equaled its overall win total of last season.
The Pirates had dropped seven of their previous eight games.
Herrion planned to give the team Sunday and Monday off before starting
preparation for a 2:10 p.m. game at Saint Louis on Saturday. ECU is 0-13 on
the road in its two seasons in C-USA.
Pirates are American made
The Pirates are definitely in the tougher of C-USA’s two
divisions. The American Division, which includes the Pirates, includes
ranked teams Louisville and Marquette. ECU plays 12 of its 16 conference
games against teams in the American Division.
The American Division leads the National Division 13-4 in
interdivision games this season and has won head to head every year since
1997-98 when C-USA went to two divisions. The records by year in favor of
the American Division: 17-7 in 2001-02, 20-16 in 2000-01, 27-9 in 1999-2000,
27-9 in 1998-99 and 25-13 in 1997-98.
Carolinas kingpin gets painful dose of C-USA
Wake Forest found out how tough it is to play in the Bradley
Center on Sunday with a 68-61 loss to Marquette but the Deacons held on to
the top spot in the Division I Carolinas poll. Wake actually moved into
first in the ACC during the loss to the Golden Eagles as Georgia Tech
knocked off Maryland. The top two teams, Wake and Duke, play in
Winston-Salem on Thursday night.
Wake Forest (16-3, 6-2 ACC) ... Josh Howard won the individual battle
with Marquette’s Dwyane Wade with 20 points and 10 rebounds to 18/3 for
Wade but the Golden Eagles captured the bigger issue, 68-61, for their
28th consecutive home win. The outcome ended a four-game winning streak
for the Deacons, who were coming off a 73-58 home win over N.C. State on
Thursday night. Wake hosts Duke at 7 p.m. on Thursday and visits Maryland
at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Duke (16-3, 6-3 ACC) ... The Blue Devils weren’t their usual
dominating selves in home wins over North Carolina (83-74) on Wednesday
and Clemson (65-55) on Sunday as coach Mike Krzyzewski allowed his team to
abandon its set offense against the Tigers. Dahntay Jones scored 15 for
Duke on Sunday and Casey Sanders snatched 14 rebounds. Duke has a pair of
challenges on the road with only one day in between — at Wake Forest at 7
p.m. on Thursday and at Virginia at 9 p.m. on Saturday. The Deacons and
the Cavaliers are both unbeaten at home this season.
UNC Wilmington (15-5, 9-2 Colonial) ... The Seahawks pulled away from
Delaware for a 71-53 win on Saturday as senior guard Brett Blizzard had 21
points and senior forward Craig Callahan added 20 in UNCW’s third straight
win. Old Dominion hosts the Seahawks at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and UNCW plays
at Hofstra at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
N.C. State (12-7, 5-4 ACC) ... Julius Hodge missed a tying 3-point
attempt at the buzzer in Charlottesville as Virginia held on for a 61-58
win on Sunday over the Wolfpack. Hodge had 15 points as State dropped its
second straight and third of its last four. The Pack looks to get back on
track against Georgia Tech at 9 p.m. on Wednesday and steps out of
conference for a game at Temple at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
North Carolina (12-10, 3-6 ACC) ... Walk-on David Noel had a steal
which led to a winning free throw as the Tar Heels topped visiting Florida
State 61-60 on Saturday with Jawad Williams scoring 20 points. That
snapped a five-game losing streak for the Heels, who host Virginia at 7
p.m. on Wednesday and visit Clemson at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
College of Charleston (18-5, 8-2 Southern) ... The Cougars have won
seven straight with a 64-53 victory at Furman on Saturday in which Troy
Wheless and Thomas Mobley scored 16 points each. Coach Tom Herrion’s team
hosts The Citadel at 7 p.m. tonight and visits Appalachian State at 1 p.m.
Appalachian State (15-6, 8-2 Southern) ... The Mountaineers were
turned back 99-86 at Davidson on Saturday despite five double figure
scorers, including 5-foot-8 guard Shawn Hall with 23. The Wildcats placed
six in double digits with Wayne Bernard scoring 25. ASU is back home for a
7 p.m. game tonight with VMI and hosts College of Charleston at 1 p.m. on
South Carolina (8-11, 2-7 SEC) ... The Gamecocks halted a seven-game
losing streak with an 84-72 win at Vanderbilt on Saturday as Chuck Eidson
led the way with 18 points. Rival Clemson visits on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
and then its back to the SEC grind with Arkansas coming into Columbia for
a 1 p.m. tip on Saturday.
Charlotte (8-12, 3-5 C-USA) ... The 49ers have dropped three in a row
and five of their last six with a 72-64 setback at DePaul on Saturday.
Demon Brown and Curtis Withers had 18 points each for Charlotte, which is
home to face Houston at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Cincinnati at 7 p.m. on
East Carolina (12-9, 3-7 C-USA) ... Derrick Wiley returned to form
with 21 points and Travis Holcomb-Faye had 16 points and six assists in a
60-57 win over Southern Miss in Greenville on Saturday night. Wiley leads
the team in scoring with a 13.0 average. Gabriel Mikulas is averaging 11.8
points and Erroyl Bing is averaging 8.9 rebounds, which is fourth in
Conference USA. The Pirates play at Saint Louis at 2:10 p.m. on Saturday
(ESPN Plus). That game is ECU’s best opportunity for a C-USA road win this
season based on the current standings.
The Not-So-Sweet 17
14. Charleston Southern
16. South Carolina State
17. Coastal Carolina
18. UNC Asheville
20. UNC Greensboro
21. The Citadel
22. Western Carolina
23. High Point
27. N.C. A&T