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View from the East
Thursday, January 9, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Holcomb-Faye close to earning redemption

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East Carolina basketball coach Bill Herrion didn’t have to sit Travis Holcomb-Faye out for five games. The senior point guard didn’t lose eligibility by NCAA standards. He lost it by Herrion standards.

The specifics of Holcomb-Faye’s schoolwork snafu aren’t clear and federal regulations prevent ECU officials from commenting on them. But whatever he did was serious enough that the Pirates coach sat him out for five games after ECU had equaled its best start ever at 7-0.

The Pirates promptly lost two out of three but Herrion stuck by his principles — even with No. 9 (ESPN/USA Today) Marquette coming to town. Herrion started a freshman, Belton Rivers, at the point against the Golden Eagles, who had been to Greenville last year and lost and who were bent on redemption in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

Herrion let his senior floor leader dress out but he never put him in the game.

“He’s served a pretty harsh punishment,” Herrion said. “The harshest punishment you can give a player is to take games away. I hope he’s learned his lesson. I hope he realizes how precious games are and I hope he values every game he plays from here on out.”

The Pirates and Rivers did some growing up without Holcomb-Faye and topped Marquette 73-70. It was a win that said a lot about the value of fan support. It also said that Herrion was willing to take a tough stance on academic performance, even at the risk of making his team less competitive.

How often do you see that in college sports today?

That factor was largely lost in the celebration.

“Fairly or unfairly Belton was handed the ball at a major college Division I program eight to 10 games into his college career,” Herrion said. “Before Travis sat out, I felt Belton was getting comfortable at the off guard. He didn’t shoot well against Marquette but he did a great job with his floor game and running the team. I told Belton, ‘The more positions you can play, it will make you a better player.’ We’d like to get back to where we can push him off the ball and utilize his ability to score.”

Luke MacKay also provided some valuable minutes off the bench with Holcomb-Faye sitting out. As the Pirates seek their first ever road win in Conference USA at 7 p.m. Saturday at Charlotte, it seems that Holcomb-Faye will be emerging from the coach’s doghouse.

“Right now I feel comfortable with the progress he’s made as far as taking care of his academic commitments,” Herrion said on Wednesday. “It looks like right now he’s going to be available.”

Holcomb-Faye was averaging 9.4 points, a team-high 5.1 assists and a team-high 33.0 minutes through seven games. Earlier this season he became ECU’s career assists leader. But Herrion doesn’t expect to start Holcomb-Faye against the 49ers.

“It’s a feel thing,” said the coach. “He’s going to get minutes and be a part of this basketball team.”

Holcomb-Faye last played on Dec. 14 in a 90-62 win over Mount Olive, so there are obviously questions about how quickly he can return to midseason form.

“He’s been practicing and he’s a senior, a veteran player,” Herrion said. “He’s played a lot of college basketball games. I’m not worried about him being rusty as much as I am him coming back and trying to do it all too fast.”

Charlotte is a different team without the outside shooting of Jobey Thomas and the post presence of Cam Stephens. The 49ers slipped to 5-7 overall and 0-1 in Conference USA with an 80-59 home loss to Louisville on Wednesday night. Still, if ECU can lose by 19 points at Coastal Carolina, they can’t afford to take their opportunity for the their first league road win lightly.

“Charlotte is still very well-coached and very aggressive on offense,” Herrion said. “They have a very good point guard, Demon Brown, and they shoot a lot of threes. They shoot very quick. Defensively, they will be a challenge for our team.”

The Pirates will practice at home on Friday afternoon and make the bus trip to Charlotte on Friday evening. ECU will have shooting practice at 9,105-seat Halton Arena on Saturday. The game will be shown on WITN-7 television.

“It should be a heckuva crowd,” Herrion said. “There’s a big alumni gathering before the game and there are a lot of alumni in that area.”

Holcomb-Faye should be back, too, and ECU is unbeaten with him in the lineup this season. Still, it’s nice to know that when Herrion uses the term “student-athlete” — he means it.

Doug Martin a Flash

Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) head football coach Dean Pees announced several staff changes on Wednesday that included Doug Martin as offensive coordinator. That’s according to a Kent State news release. Martin had held that position the last seven years at ECU.

Mike Drake, a five-year veteran of the staff and the team's offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, now will serve as a defensive assistant to Pees, who will assume direct responsibility for the defense.

Martin was at ECU for all 11 seasons of former coach Steve Logan's tenure, serving as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator for two seasons (1992-93) and then as wide receivers coach for another two (1994-95) before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 1996. While directing the Pirates’ offense, Martin continued to mentor wide receivers from 1996-99 and assumed position responsibilities for quarterbacks in 2000.

“I am really thrilled to have someone of Doug's experience and caliber joining our staff,” Pees said. “East Carolina has had a lot of success in recent years with Doug running the offense.”

Martin played a significant role at ECU in the development of quarterback David Garrard, who broke 28 school passing and total offense records from 1998-2001. Garrard was starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie at the end of the 2002 season.

The Golden Flashes compete in the Mid-American Conference. Kent State is coming off a 3-9 season in which it was 1-7 in league play. The Golden Flashes averaged 214.9 yards rushing and 120.2 passing per game. They scored an average of 16.8 points per game while allowing 35.3.

Martin has a challenge but that presents opportunity as well. Kent State quarterback Joshua Cribbs will return for his junior season after passing for 1,014 yards in 2002 and running for 1,057.

Martin’s hometown is Oak Ridge, Tenn. He played college football at Kentucky, graduating in 1985.

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02/23/2007 12:40:18 AM
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