College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, July 7, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Can we change the subject,
please? It's ESPPY time!
Tired of expansion speculation? Let’s take a break and look
at the East Carolina ESPPYs (Extra Special Pirate Performances of the Year)
and consider the greatest games, plays, athletes and teams of 2002-03.
And if you still need to contemplate conference realignment,
we’ll deal with that as well.
Best game of the year
Football: East Carolina 31, No. 22 Texas Christian 28 — The Pirates
connected with their football past for once during the 2002 season and lived
up to their name by generating seven turnovers in an upset of the Horned
Frogs at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Nov. 23.
Basketball: East Carolina 73, No. 9 Marquette 70 — Before a
record crowd of 8,081 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum, the Pirates
knocked off the Golden Eagles as Gabriel Mikulas scored 22 points and
grabbed 11 rebounds. C-USA player of the year and NBA lottery pick Dwyane
Wade of Marquette missed a tying 3-point attempt from the left corner at the
Baseball: East Carolina 10, No. 3 national seed Georgia Tech
3 — The Yellow Jackets were coming off the ACC Tournament championship in
Salem, Va. and were playing at home in Atlanta in an elimination game of an
NCAA Tournament regional. ECU’s pitching and offense showed up
simultaneously and the Pirates rolled on May 11.
Best play of the year
Football: With TCU driving late in the game at ECU, Pirates
safety Travis Heath stripped TCU running back Ricky Madison of the ball and
took it 81 yards to the West end zone for the deciding points with 2:46
Basketball: Derrick Wiley’s two free throws with 32 seconds
left broke a tie in the upset of Marquette.
Baseball: Darryl Lawhorn’s seventh inning grand slam in the
NCAA regional win over Georgia Tech.
Athlete of the year
Football: Offensive tackle Brian Rimpf was All Conference USA
for the second straight year as the Pirates produced a 1,000-plus yard
rusher for the second straight year.
Basketball: Derrick Wiley averaged a team-high 14.0 points
and routinely provided highlight footage.
Baseball: Darryl Lawhorn changed positions but kept producing
at the plate for the Pirates.
Team of the year
Football: They were in the Conference USA title picture until
losing the 11th game of the season at Southern Miss on Nov. 30.
Basketball: The Pirates rolled out to a 7-0 start and their
10-2 record included that stunner against Marquette.
Baseball: A fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament wasn’t
assured but the Pirates had an emotionally-charged reaction when their names
popped on the screen during the bracket announcement show on ESPN.
Best scenario for the future
ACC: That 12th spot is an intriguing possibility. A lot of
teams would have to say “No” starting with Notre Dame before the Pirates
might be considered but who knows? ECU would be a great fit in terms of its
proximity to the heart of the league and a number of existing rivalries
would make a neat transition into the conference context. What it would do
for the perception of the region and its economy makes it something for
which to hope.
Big East: Wouldn’t you love to know what Conference USA
commissioner Britton Banowsky and Big East boss Mike Tranghese have been
talking about? Some sort of direct postseason access to the highest level of
Division I-A football is ECU’s objective and a merger of the two leagues
might provide it.
Conference USA: The Pirates could be happy right where they
are if there was automatic Bowl Championship Series inclusion for the C-USA
champion or a guaranteed berth for C-USA if a more extensive playoff system
The envelope, please.
Best game: Basketball — Football and baseball have
each had bigger moments but beating a Final Four team ranks very high in
ECU’s basketball history.
Best play: Football — Have to say it was Heath’s strip
and return to humble the Horned Frogs.
Best athlete: Baseball — After a great freshman
season, Darryl Lawhorn didn’t see a lot of good pitches in an ECU lineup
that was too often offensively-challenged — but he still hit .332 with 14
home runs and 49 RBI, all team highs.
Best team: Baseball — Well, they had the only winning
record. Hope there’s more to pick from next year.
Best scenario: C-USA — Stay at home, save the
exit/entrance fees and make the overall system more equitable.
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02/23/2007 12:40:30 AM