College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, May 5, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
NYC backcourt star will get
early chance to shine
East Carolina should be getting a point guard with a
pedigree when it signs 5-foot-11 Japhet McNeil to a scholarship, possibly
today. McNeil led Christ the King to the New York state Catholic Class A
state championship with 27 points in a 71-54 win over Bronx St. Raymond’s.
McNeil’s high school has produced point guards Omar Cook,
who left after his freshman year at St. John’s to try and make it in the
NBA, and Derrick Phelps, who helped North Carolina to the NCAA championship
McNeil will have the opportunity to play immediately at ECU
since starting point guard Travis Holcomb-Faye, the first recruit in the
Bill Herrion coaching era, was the only senior on last year’s 12-15 team.
McNeil’s Chrst the King team avenged an earlier loss to St.
Raymond’s in the New York city title game when it won the state final. In
the city championship, McNeil was 0-for-13 shooting. He said he forced shots
instead of waiting for the game to come to him.
He corrected his approach in the state final and made
7-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-4 behind the arc.
Recent signees Mike Cook and left-hander Frank Robinson
should help the Pirates’ perimeter scoring. McNeil is a true point guard who
can handle the role of distributor. Inside scorers such as Erroyl Bing,
Moussa Badianne and Gabriel Mikulas should benefit. With better outside
shooting, defenses will have to extend and won’t be able to collapse on
ECU’s inside players.
McNeil is rated No. 124 nationally in Hoop Scoop’s top 200.
One service rated him the No. 22 prospect in the New York City area.
Pirates still looking
The addition of McNeil will mean the Pirates’ shopping cart
is almost full but it’s not quite time for Coach Bill Herrion to be looking
for a golf game. There is one remaining scholarship available, which ECU
could use in a variety of ways. The Pirates could bring in a junior college
point guard or begin restocking the frontcourt which will lose Bing and
Mikulas after next season.
Herrion and hoops assistant Greg Herenda played some golf
with former football assistants Doug Martin and Bob Leahy last summer.
“We didn’t fare too well,” Herrion said. “I haven’t gotten
to know the guys on the new football staff yet but maybe we can find some
guys we can beat.”
Leave the line alone
Among the topics being discussed last week by the NCAA rules
committee were moving the 3-point line back nine inches to the international
distance of 20 feet, 6 inches — a proposal that won’t get immediate support
from the Pirates.
“The way we shot, they don’t need to move it back,” Herrion
The Pirates hit just 27.9 percent of their 3-point attempts
The rules committee also mulled widening the lane from 12
feet to 16 feet or making it a trapezoid like in international competition.
“There are people who say if you push the 3-point line back
a little bit then maybe it opens up the post play a little bit,” Herrion
said. “Personally, I like the game and the rules where they’re at.”
Pirates staying stateside
Plans for the ECU men’s basketball team to play overseas in France in August
have been put on hold.
“We’re not going to do it and the reason why is concern for
safety,” Herrion said. “With the war and unrest, it’s not a good time to
The conduct of Iowa State men’s basketball coach Larry
Eustachy has been a topic of conversation, and whether he should be
dismissed based on his presence and conduct at various student parties has
been a matter for debate.
“When you’re in our position as a head coach, you’re
represent your university and you have to represent it the right way,”
Herrion said. “When you decide to go into this profession you put yourself
under a microscope. You have to be aware who’s watching and the decisions
you make. Being aware of how you represent your university is part of the
“It’s an unfortunate deal. The guy’s a heckuva coach. You
don’t want to see it end for him because of that. You give him credit for
admitting he has a problem. The most important thing for him is taking care
of the problem and you look at that. The Alabama guy (former Tide football
coach Mike Price) — at the bigger schools, you’re in the public eye so much
— you have to stay on top of that.”
Reece Gaines of Louisville and Dwyane Wade of Marquette
won’t be headaches for Herrion next season. Gaines was a senior and Wade has
opted for the NBA after leading the Golden Eagles to the Final Four as a
“Those are two guys we had to play against four times,”
When division play is eliminated next season, ECU will meet
most of the league’s teams only once per season. The Pirates will play
Charlotte, UAB and South Florida twice — which is probably preferable to
playing Cincinnati, Marquette and Louisville twice.
“A great underclassman is leaving the league,” Herrion said
of Wade. “He gave the conference credibility and notoriety but I’m kind of
glad I don’t have to coach against him anymore.”
There have been some discussions with UNC Wilmington about
re-establishing a non-conference series in basketball but Herrion said next
season may not be the right time.
“Obviously, they’ve built a tremendous program,” Herrion
said. “We’ve got to continue to make sure we win non-conference games.
That’s a big part of it. We can’t be .500 or below when we enter league play
The Pirates will return games to Ole Miss and George Mason
Herrion doesn’t know if he’s ready to schedule College of
Charleston, where his brother, Tom, just completed a 25-8 season as head
coach of the Cougars.
“He’s my brother and maybe because of our intensity that
could jeopardize our relationship, although when they throw the ball up I
sometimes don’t know who’s on the other bench,” Herrion said. “I don’t know
if that will happen although I think people might like to see it. It would
“With the season they had, I don’t know If I want to play
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