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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, February 13, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Troth, Rimpf itching for some football

©2003 Bonesville.net

East Carolina has started its offseason conditioning workouts — at 6 a.m. in Minges Coliseum — and spring practice will be getting underway on March 18. The sessions are an opportunity for the new coaching staff and the players to get to know each other better while preparing for the program to move forward.

Returning quarterback Paul Troth was initially upset when Steve Logan was dismissed on Dec. 7 and there was speculation that he might leave the program. But Troth is thinking positively now about his future with the Pirates.

“I’m ready just to go play some spring ball and I’m excited,” Troth said. “Just ready for an offensive coordinator and that’s in the works. I’m just ready to start learning the playbook and keep working hard. Everybody’s worked hard so far and they’re really enthused. They like the new attitude around here.”

Thompson told Troth that ECU will play to its strengths on offense. Troth completed 49.3 percent of his passes last season for 2,315 yards with 15 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.

“He said we’re going to do what we do best,” said Troth, a sophomore during a 4-8 season in 2002. “We’ll evaluate the talent in the spring. I’m going into spring — my job’s up in the air. That’s how everybody’s going in. Everybody knows that. I’m going in and compete for the job. Hopefully, I’ll come out on top because I’m pretty confident that I can.”

Troth wants to end speculation that he might transfer.

“I made the statement a couple of months ago that I was here,” he said. “I think I explained myself. I just like it here. I love it here. The reason I came here was because of East Carolina, not because of Coach Logan. I’ve made friendships here. I have commitments and friends throughout the program.”

The Pirates will play a big-time schedule in 2003, Troth’s junior year.

“That’s one of the good aspects of staying and one of the good aspects of working so hard is knowing that if we go out and perform well in our non-conference games and the conference games we have a shot at big things next year,” said Troth, whose dad, Mike, lettered for the Pirates as a flanker on Sonny Randle's 1973 Southern Conference championship team.

Brian Rimpf would project to have a shot at big things individually as well as on a team level for the Pirates after earning a nomination for the Lombardi Award last year and making All Conference USA the last two seasons. A a senior from Leesville Road High in Raleigh, Rimpf was on hand as ECU’s first signing class under Thompson was announced.

“I think Coach Thompson has brought a new atmosphere into East Carolina and the football community,” said the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder. “He wants the community revolving around him, which a new coach should. He should want to get involved in the community and bring in the atmosphere. I think that’s what he’s doing.”

Rimpf sees the early morning workouts as a chance to get to know the coaches better.

“We haven’t seen ’em too much the past month,” he said. “They’ve been recruiting pretty hard and looks like they’ve done a good job based on the recruits they’ve signed. I’m just looking forward to getting to know the coaches.”

The season opener at Cincinnati on Labor Day, which is slated for telecast on one of the ESPN networks, will have some unusual circumstances for ECU in general and Rimpf in particular. The Pirates will start the 2003 season against the same team against which they finished 2002 and they will do so with Steve Shankweiler coaching the offensive linemen for the Bearcats, a job he performed at ECU for a total of 10 years.

“That’s going to be real interesting,” Rimpf said. “Coach Shankweiler was here the first four years I was here and he’s the only coach I’ve had so far. To see him on the other sideline is going to be interesting.”

Rimpf has met new offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, whose shaved head makes him look like a suitable instructor for trench warfare, as he has done at Virginia Tech and Texas A&M.

“I’ve met him a few times,” Rimpf said. “He came with some high recommendations. Coach (Jim) Whitten and some of the guys on the strength staff were actually at Virginia Tech when he was up there five or six years ago. He comes highly recommended. They say he’s a great coach and I’m looking forward to playing under him.”

Rimpf doesn’t doesn't anticipate any problems adapting, regardless of who the new offensive coordinator at ECU turns out to be.

“No, I don’t think it’s going to be too big of an adjustment,” Rimpf said. “I think Coach Thompson is going to kind of mold it around the people he’s got here, the personnel. We’re going to have to learn something new anyway. I don’t think he’ll make it too hard with just one spring ball and one preseason.”

With West Virginia and North Carolina coming to Greenville and trips to Miami (Fla.) and Wake Forest, the Pirates have significant non-conference challenges in addition to their yearly goal of winning Conference USA.

“It’s a great schedule,” Rimpf said. “I don’t think I could have asked for a better one my senior year. Playing those big, top people is how you get noticed and how the team can really grow. We’re looking forward to it.”

Rimpf was asked about his overall impressions of the coaching staff.

“I’m pleased,” he said. “I’m very satisfied with the coaching staff that’s here. I’m ready to go and ready to play some football.”

Road opportunity

Saint Louis and East Carolina are in similar situations going into their men’s basketball game at the 20,000-seat Savvis Center at 2:10 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN Plus). Both need a win in terms of qualifying for the Conference USA Tournament March 12-15 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. and both are playing much better at home.

Saint Louis halted Louisville’s winning streak at 17 games with a 59-58 upset of the No. 2 Cardinals on Wednesday night as Marque Perry led the Billikens with 25 points. The Billikens are 3-2 in the league at home and 0-5 on the road. Saint Louis’ overall record is 8-4 at home and coach Brad Soderburg’s first-year team is 1-8 on the road.

ECU is 3-2 in the league in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum and 8-3 overall. The Pirates are 0-5 in C-USA on the road and 3-7 overall. ECU’s last road win was Dec. 7, 75-67, at Old Dominion. ECU’s 86-61 win over Campbell in Fayetteville on Dec. 21 is recorded as a neutral site.

The big number bugging the Pirates is 0-13 in two seasons of Conference USA road games. Only once in two seasons of home and home play in the American Division of C-USA have the Pirates played a team closer on the road than at home. That would be last season’s series with DePaul where the Blue Demons won 80-58 in Greenville and 62-51 in Chicago.

In the other six head-to-head matchups in the division over the last two seasons, ECU is 0.8 points per game better than its opponent. The road differential is an average of 25.5 points per game.

Pirates coach Bill Herrion have his team Sunday and Monday off after a 60-57 win over Southern Miss on Saturday night in Greenville in which ECU came from nine points down over the last nine minutes.

“We’re a tired basketball team and we’ve got some kids under the weather,” Herrion said. “I like the time off, but earlier this year we had nine days before we played at Charlotte and we were down 26 (points) at the half. We need to get some rest and then have four good days of practice.

“The next challenge with this team and this program is can we go on the road in Conference USA and win a basketball game against Saint Louis. They’re a very good home basketball team. It’s going to be a very big game from the standpoint of two teams battling to get into the Conference USA Tournament, so there’s going to be a lot at stake.”

Herrion liked the Pirates’ look against Southern Miss.

“I thought we came out and competed and played hard against a really good Southern Miss team,” Herrion said. “We’ve really been struggling to score points. But Derrick Wiley got up and down the floor and when Derrick can score and have a mid-range game for us we’re much better off as a team.

“Erroyl Bing has been rebounding well for us but his problem has been getting the ball in on stickbacks. We need Gabriel Mikulas to be an offensive weapon for us inside for us to be a consistent basketball team.”

Although ECU hasn’t shot over 40 percent on field goals for eight straight games, Herrion has other worries.

“I’m more concerned about where we are in terms of effort, how hard we are playing and what we are doing at the defensive end,” he said. “The better we do in those areas will allow us to be a better team at the other end of the floor.”

Briefly

ECU senior Julien Dunkley of Westbury, N.Y., was named Conference USA track athlete of the week after his second place finish in the 55-meter dash at the Gator Invitational on Sunday. His 6.21-second time automatically qualifies the Pirate All-American for the NCAA meet. ... Stanford’s offensive coordinator job is still open, which is the situation that was thought to be the contingent factor in Noel Mazzone coming to ECU as offensive coordinator from Oregon State. ... An N.C. State spokesman said Wolfpack tight ends coach Curt Cignetti is not a candidate for the ECU job. ... Dwight Henry, who played football at ECU from 1993-95 and in 1997, is a defensive specialist for the Los Angeles Avengers in the Arena Football League.

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02/23/2007 12:40:04 AM
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