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College Sports in the Carolinas


View from the East
Thursday, March 27, 2003

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Herrion brackets; Trustees to meet; New bowl


After two rounds, my NCAA brackets had the look of a target that had been hit by one of those 2,000-pound bunker-busting bombs they’ve described in coverage of the war on Iraq. So I decided to seek professional help.

Fortunately, East Carolina coach Bill Herrion was home Wednesday night catching his breath after an extended ride on the recruiting trail. The Pirates coach agreed to share his thoughts on the pending regionals and we’ll touch base again next week for his picks on the Final Four.

Here then is Coach Herrion on the Sweet 16, starting with the Midwest Regional tonight in Minneapolis:

Midwest Regional, Minneapolis

Kentucky vs. Wisconsin
Herrion: “I’m going with Kentucky just from the standpoint that they’re on an unbelievable roll right now and they really play defense. You get to this point of the tournament and you have to play half-court defense. They are the prohibitive favorite to win it all right now.”

Marquette vs. Pittsburgh
Herrion: “I’ve got to go with the conference. I think it’s going to be a war to be honest but I’ve got to support Conference USA. I saw Pittsburgh play in the Big East final when I was recruiting up there and they are two excellent half-court teams offensively and defensively. Dwyane Wade could be the difference, a potential NBA guy. It’s going to be a war offensively and defensively, a very close game.”

West Regional, Anaheim, Cal.

Arizona vs. Notre Dame
Herrion: “I’ll take Arizona. I look at them and they’re a team capable of winning the national championship. They’re definitely one of those teams. I think Notre Dame relies too much on the 3-point shot and when you get into these one-and-done situations, you’re concerned about the night the 3-pointers don’t fall. Arizona has seniors and good balance. They’re definitely a team that can win the national championship.”

Duke vs. Kansas
Herrion: “I’m going to pick Kansas. I think (Kirk) Hinrich and (Nick) Collison give Kansas a veteran 1-2 punch. At this point in the season, that’s an advantage. I think they beat Duke with Hinrich and Collison and that experience but I don’t think Kansas can win it all.”

South Regional, San Antonio

Texas vs. Connecticut
Herrion: “I’m going to take Texas. They’re a little bit more experienced, a little more veteran than Connecticut. It’s going to be like Marquette and Pittsburgh, a war. I saw Connecticut and Pitt in the Big East final and I don’t think Connecticut has a senior. They’re going to be a great team. Texas has T.J. Ford, probably the college player of the year and Texas plays great defense. The team that plays defense — really guards you — they have a chance to win it all.”

Maryland vs. Michigan State
Herrion: “I like Maryland. They’re the defending national champions and until they get beat, they still hold that title. I like their backcourt — (Steve) Blake and (Drew) Nicholas are both seniors. I don’t think they can win it all but I like them against Michigan State.”

East Regional, Albany, N.Y.

Oklahoma vs. Butler
Herrion: “Oklahoma. I was very impressed with Butler’s win against Louisville but Oklahoma was a Final Four team last year. Hollis Price might be my favorite college basketball player. They play good half-court defense. I like Oklahoma. They have a lot of weapons and I think they win that game.”

Syracuse vs. Auburn
Herrion: “I like Syracuse. Carmelo Anthony is probably the top freshman in the nation. Syracuse plays 2-3 zone and you’ve got to make shots against them. Coach (Jim) Boeheim has done a great job with that team. They’re balanced and Carmelo Anthony is a special player. He’s great.”

Regional finals

Coach Herrion picked Kentucky vs. Marquette. His thoughts: “I love the league and I want to support the league but I’ve got to go with Kentucky. They’re on an unbelievable winning streak. They’ve got veterans and younger guys. I don’t think people understand how good they are defensively. The NCAA Tournament is a 3-point shooting deal but Kentucky has an inside and outside game. Kentucky over Marquette.”

Coach Herrion picked Arizona and Kansas. His thoughts: “I pick Arizona. I think they’re too talented. They have great guard play and a talented frontcourt. I also think they’ll have an advantage out west with the crowd. It’s easier for their fans to get there.”

Coach Herrion picked Texas and Maryland. His thoughts: “I think Texas is a heckuva basketball team. They are a tremendous defensive basketball team with great balance. T.J. Ford is a special player. They have a chance to win it all.”

Coach Herrion picked Oklahoma and Syracuse. His thoughts: “I pick Syracuse. They’re playing in Albany, which is right down the road so that’s a tremendous homecourt advantage. Their 2-3 zone is so long, so big and so athletic. You’re in trouble if you’re not making jump shots against them.”

Board of trustees

Sources indicate that the contracts of Herrion and women’s basketball coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener will be reviewed by the board of trustees on Friday. Herrion’s contract currently runs through the 2005-2006 season at an base salary of $150,000 annually.

There are also indications that the performance of athletics director Mike Hamrick will be evaluated. Efforts to determine anything of substance beyond that have been unsuccessful. Hamrick said Wednesday he feels comfortable in his job performance and general support from the board. Chancellor William Muse has been heavily involved with ECU’s Founder’s Day celebration this week and has not been available for comment.

The unforeseen factors that could impact Hamrick’s situation are an unanticipated move by Muse and the willingness of a supporter or parties to fund a buyout of the athletic director’s contract, which runs through midyear of 2005. There is also the possibility of Hamrick being assigned other duties at ECU while his contract runs its course. The situation appears to be more rumor than substantiated fact at this point.

New bowl looming

Sources indicate that Conference USA may lose its slot in the Houston Bowl and gain a tie-in with a proposed Fort Worth Bowl that would match a C-USA and Big 12 team. The Houston Bowl, which had featured a similar pairing of the two conferences, will apparently opt for an SEC-Big 12 matchup. The Houston Bowl was known as the Bowl when ECU beat Big 12 opponent Texas Tech 40-27 in 2000. The Fort Worth Bowl, which would be played at Amon Carter Stadium on Texas Christian's campus, still must be certified by the NCAA. The game would be played on Dec. 23 and has backing from ESPN officials.

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02/23/2007 12:40:59 AM

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