College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Monday, February 9, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Pirates anxious to produce
more than thrills
CyberEast of New Bern
"Service While You
Need a quick
repair on your computer?
How about a
bigger or an additional hard drive or a DVD/RW-CD/RW?
Could a new
SoundBlaster™ Audigy card and speaker system
improve your experience listening to
Bonesville.net's Windows Media features?
of New Bern for an in-store appointment to get
your computer geared up to meet your needs while
If you don't have
time to watch and wait, drop your PC off at the
CyberEast service department and pick it up when
your repairs or upgrades have been completed.
417-C Broad St., New
There were some enduring images in East Carolina’s 96-90 overtime loss to
Charlotte on Saturday night.
One was Pirates coach Bill Herrion on the sideline when Brendan Plavich of
the 49ers appeared to double dribble late in the game. Herrion, clad in
white sneakers with a shirt and tie, went prancing along the sideline making
an exaggerated signal for the violation.
Buy Brian Bailey or Billy Weaver a hamburger if they got that for the 11
Herrion was actually smiling, too. Maybe he was trying to call the
officials’ attention to the situation as nicely as possible without showing
Or maybe the smile was because Herrion couldn’t believe the three-man crew
could miss such an apparently obvious call. Or maybe he’s like the guy who
said he was laughing to keep from crying.
It’s been that kind of season for him. The biggest break the Pirates have
gotten was a bad one — when starting center Gabriel Mikulas fractured his
right arm in mid-January.
The crew in stripes saw 66 fouls, but the infraction that momentarily
inspired the mime in Bill Herrion somehow escaped detection.
Many coaches, by the way, wore sneakers on Saturday as part of a
fund-raising effort for Coaches Against Cancer. Herrion looked like a frat
boy. Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz wore black sneakers so his weren’t so
Back to the images. There was ECU senior Derrick Wiley poised at the line
with 10.8 seconds left in regulation with two free throws and a chance to
put an upset on ice for the Pirates. He missed both to set up another Kodak
moment in a frantic sequence on the Charlotte offensive end.
Plavich, who had 10 three-pointers when the 49ers won at defending NCAA
champ Syracuse early in the season and who apparently has the green light
from anywhere inside 35 feet, fired from behind the arc and in front of the
Charlotte bench. The carom went high on the right side and 49ers guard Demon
Brown went up strong amid the bodies trying to snatch the game-clinching
rebound to deflect the ball with both hands toward the hoop. The force that
Brown applied was like that of a volleyball set.
As the bodies seeking the rebound descended, 49ers reserve forward Calvin
Clemmons rose into view like one of those monsters in the horror movies who
moves above the skyline as frightened citizens seek cover below. Clemmons
tracked the ball like a hawk zeroing in on prey. From his clutches, he
decisively powered it through the rim from point-blank range for a tie score
There was an overtime, of course, after the officials made sure in a
videotape review that Clemmons’ feat had beaten the buzzer. Too bad they
didn’t rewind it to Plavich’s double dribble.
Two nearly-identical medium range jumpers by Charlotte’s Curtis Withers
staked the 49ers to a 4-point lead in the extra period and helped the 49ers
escape the pitfalls of Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum which have ensnared
Louisville and Marquette in recent seasons.
There were some eye-opening statistics, too. Like Wiley’s 2-for-17 effort
from the floor. His shooting touch suddenly turned into a Phil Niekro
knuckleball with Charlotte junior Eddie Basden defending him like he was
Wiley’s Siamese twin. Basden did everything for the Niners but drive the bus
home as he also scored a career-high 27 points, including 4-for-4 from
behind the arc.
ECU was 8-0 going into the game when scoring 70 or more points and should
have gone to 9-0.
Against Charlotte’s aggressive defensive pressure, ECU only had 11 turnovers
in 45 minutes. That’s down significantly from an earlier 85-69 loss at
Charlotte in which the Pirates committed 22.
“We should have won this game,” said stringy Moussa Badiane, who led ECU
with 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Ultimately, Charlotte’s composure was a narrow winner over ECU’s hostile
For those who weren’t in the building, the bottom line may simply be an “L”
for the Pirates. But for those who were there it was a great show, a fact
that wasn’t lost on Lutz when he was asked if ECU and Charlotte will
continue to play when the 49ers leave for the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06.
“To be honest we may not play every year but we want to continue playing,”
Lutz said. “We also want to continue playing Marquette, DePaul and
Cincinnati so it may not work out every year, but it’s worth considering.”
The 49ers didn’t just dodge a bullet on Saturday night. Somehow they
sidestepped a guided missile.
“ECU played so well,” Lutz said. “It was a shame they had to lose.”
Herrion has experienced the mixed emotions of pride and disappointment a lot
in 2003-04. Pride stems from continuing effort despite adversity, but he’s
disappointed the Pirates haven’t come away with more wins in the close ones.
“We’ve been down this road so many times before,” he said. “There obviously
are no moral victories. The kids played their hearts out and played their
guts out. But those things are supposed to be constants in this program. The
difference is we don’t play real smart at times and that’s the reason maybe
that we don’t have a few more Conference USA wins.”
Herrion put his hands on different levels to illustrate where the Pirates
used to be in terms of competing against the 49ers, who have won all six of
their league games in three seasons with ECU.
“It used to be that they were too athletic, too physical and too talented
for us,” Herrion said. “I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
It’s Memphis’ turn to strut and fret in ECU’s arena on Wednesday night.
Regardless of what ECU’s 1-8 league record may indicate, the 6,017 fans at
the Charlotte game on Saturday night have come to appreciate home games as
interactive theater. The best opponents tend to bring out the best in the
Pirates. Noisy support energizes the players and gives them a chance against
“Welcome to the Jungle” is indeed an appropriate theme song. Forgive anyone
who forgets where they are and asks one of the alluring Solid Gold dancers
for a lap dance. There’s this new thing, too, with the cheerleader who
uncrosses his arms and jumpstomps with such finality at the close of
timeouts after his shoulder-shaking buddy directs the student section into a
ECU has two games left at home that could well determine if the Pirates will
squeeze into the league tournament in Cincinnati on March 10-13. Tulane
visits at 7 p.m. on Feb. 18 and South Florida comes in at 1 p.m. on Feb. 28.
The top 12 in the league standings qualify for the conference tournament so
those games could be huge in avoiding those season-ending bottom two slots.
The Pirates also will host Texas Christian at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21.
There’s a balance at work for ECU despite losses in nine of the last 10
games. What the Pirates have lacked in good fortune, they tend to make up
for with excitement. They were entertaining on Saturday night, even if they
didn’t win, and perhaps the Pirates can do better than thrilling defeats in
the remaining weeks.
Maybe there’s a philosophical question there somewhere. Like, what’s more
fun, a win over Gardner-Webb or a matchup like the Charlotte game on
Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.
Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville
02/23/2007 12:45:03 AM