College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, November 3, 2003
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
League shakeup may benefit
Most of the East Carolina community is disappointed that the Pirates will
likely not get an invitation to the Big East Conference this week.
Unofficial reports have it that the league will take Louisville, Cincinnati,
South Florida, Marquette and DePaul from Conference USA when Big East
presidents meet on Tuesday in Philadelphia.
ECU basketball coach Bill Herrion isn’t among those who will be too downcast
if that is the scenario that indeed develops. Herrion has struggled to get
the Pirates program on a competitive level with the national powers that the
Big East appears poised to incorporate from C-USA.
The loss of Louisville and other hardwood powerhouses means a more
realistically competitive environment for the Pirates in C-USA.
“Programs like Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette have enjoyed basketball
success for many, many years,” Herrion said. “I don’t know if we are really
ever going to catch up with those people. I don’t know if it’s wrong to say
that. I think the name of the game right now is being in a league where you
can be successful and win games.”
C-USA preseason coaches poll
8. Saint Louis
9. Southern Miss
10. South Florida
11. Texas Christian
13. East Carolina
Charlotte and Saint Louis may be headed for the Atlantic 10, which means
that six of the top eight teams in the C-USA preseason coaches poll may be
exiting the league.
Herrion already feels like the Pirates have gotten a break competitively
because they won’t play Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette and DePaul home
and home this season. C-USA has dissolved division play and instead ECU will
match up with UAB, Charlotte and South Florida twice.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said. “You take those teams out of
our building and it may hurt our attendance. The interest in the program for
our fans — a lot of it is because we play these people. But I also think
winning is winning. If you win in any league, if you’re successful — people
will come see you play.”
Herrion has had to adjust his recruiting approach since taking the Pirates
job when ECU was playing in the Colonial Athletic Association.
More adjustments may be imminent.
“Kids want to know who you’re going to play against,” Herrion said. “That’s
helped us get kids the last couple of years. Now you switch gears again. The
first thing you look at when you see a kid is ‘Can he play for us?’ Then you
ask can he get on the floor with Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette — the
people we’re chasing.
"Now you may look at kids, some of them, a little
differently. It’s another adjustment. In a way we’re going to our third
league in five years, in a way.”
ECU will open on Nov. 22 at home against Campbell at 7 p.m. The Pirates
played the Camels in Fayetteville last season to set up a return game in
Greenville this season.
Louisville, Cincinnati and programs on that level seldom play a program such
as Campbell away from home. They can make the financial guarantees to bring
opponents they expect to beat to their gyms. They can in effect buy wins
that help them get ready for league play and also fatten their record for
selection to the NCAA Tournament.
It’s just one of the factors that puts ECU at a disadvantage against present
company in C-USA.
Herrion knows what’s best for football is best for the athletics program in
“The whole landscape is revolving around football,” he said. “We know that.
I think we’d all like to be aligned with a bowl championship series
conference in the long run. It would benefit everybody from a financial
standpoint. That’s first and foremost but you look at basketball and maybe
we’ll have a chance to be more successful in a different league.”
Herrion said he has often heard the question on the recruiting trail
recently from potential players, “What’s happening with your league?”
The answer may be one that will make C-USA a better competitive fit for the
Pirates in hoops in the future.
Young World Stars
The East Carolina basketball team will face outside opposition for the first
time as it prepares for the 2003-04 season with a home exhibition game
against the Young World Stars at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Williams Arena at
The Young World Stars are a group of high school age eastern Europeans,
whose preseason tour is being coordinated by a former associate of
Herrion’s, Scott Beeten. Herrion and Beeten were on the staff at George
Washington at one time. Herrion will get a chance to see his ECU team in a
game situation and do some possible recruiting evaluation as well.
“Most of these kids are looking to come to the U.S. and possibly go to
school,” said the Pirates coach.
Herrion's squad will have an open practice and its annual Purple-Gold
scrimmage on Saturday before the Pirates football team plays South Florida
at 2 p.m. for homecoming.
Rivers returns, word pending on Foster
Sophomore guard Belton Rivers returned to practice on Wednesday and is 100
percent after sustaining a concussion on the second day of practice when he
ran into a pick set by Garth Grindley. NCAA regulations permit players such
as freshman forward Keith Foster from Winston-Salem Reynolds to practice for
14 days with the day while his eligibility status is determined. Herrion
hopes to know the ruling on Foster before the exhibition game on Thursday.
With Rivers out, freshman Mike Cook got some work at point guard.
“He might not have speed and quickness,” Herrion said of Cook. “But he’s a
very physical kind of control guy.”
Another freshman, Japhet McNeil, may start at the point.
“He’s our one true point guard in the program,” Herrion said. “That’s the
only position he’s going to play.”
The Pirates should have an effective blend of experience and youth. The
seniors include Gabriel Mikulas, Erroyl Bing and Derrick Wiley. Mikulas and
Bing have been Pirate mainstays since they were freshmen. Wiley transferred
in last season and led ECU with a 14.0 average.
“The kids are working hard,” Herrion said. “Part of the focus this time of
year is instilling a work ethic. We have some older guys who have been
through the wars and they are leading the way for our younger kids.
"I think overall we’re going to be quicker, more athletic and stronger than
we have been, which are attributes you need in this league.”
ECU was picked 13th in the preseason by C-USA’s 14 head coaches. The top 12
teams in the league standings will make the conference tournament field
March 10-13 in Cincinnati.
ECU recruiting target Miguel Iyala, a 6-foot-7 wing shooter from Fullerton
(Cal.) Junior College, has apparently committed to Texas A&M, which is
closer to his Mexican homeland. Iyala made a visit to ECU the weekend that
the Pirates hosted West Virginia in football.
Carolinas football pecking order
Here’s how the Division I-A football programs in the Carolinas stack up
through games of Nov. 1.
STATELINE POWER RANKINGS©
N.C. State (7-3, 4-2 ACC) ... Wolfpack wins thriller over
Wake Forest (5-4, 3-3 ACC) ... Demon Deacons get running game
rolling and thump Clemson, 45-17.
South Carolina (5-4, 2-4 SEC) ... Gamecock rally falls short at
Clemson (5-4, 3-3 ACC) ... Two Tiger turnovers turn into
touchdowns in loss at Wake.
Duke (2-7, 0-5 ACC) ... Blue Devils hang with Tennessee for
North Carolina (1-8, 0-5 ACC) ... Tar Heels lacking defensively
59-21 loss at Maryland.
East Carolina (1-8, 1-4 C-USA) ... Memphis pulls away from 17-17
tie at half for 41-24 win.
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02/23/2007 12:41:18 AM