College Sports in the Carolinas
from the East
Friday, February 20, 2004
By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News &
Fans' faith sustains Pirates
You certainly have to credit the home fan support for East Carolina men’s
basketball. The Pirates drew 4,632 for a midweek game on Wednesday night to
see an ECU team that had not won at home in the 2004 calendar year.
“What is so special about East Carolina is the passion that the fans have
for our teams,” said ECU basketball coach Bill Herrion.
Wednesday night’s turnout certainly indicates that ECU’s fanbase can’t be
described as the fair weather variety when you consider that the Pirates
averaged a lesser number, 4,537 in their last winning season. That was
1996-97 when the Pirates went 17-10.
ECU, at 10-12 overall and 2-10 in Conference USA, is battling to make this
another winning campaign.
STANDINGS & SCHEDULE
Conference All Games
W L PCT W L PCT
9 2 .818 18 4 .818
9 2 .818 16 6 .727
3 .727 17 5 .773
8 3 .727 16 6 .727
8 3 .727 15 7 .682
4 .636 17 5 .773
Texas Christian 6 5 .545 10 12
Saint Louis 5 5
.500 12 9 .571
Southern Miss 5 6 .455
12 10 .545
4 6 .400 13 8 .619
3 8 .273 10 12 .455
East Carolina 2 10 .167 10
2 10 .167 8 15 .348
South Florida 1 10 .091
7 15 .318
No games scheduled.
No games scheduled.
Charlotte at Southern Miss
Louisville at Cincinnati
Saint Louis at DePaul
South Florida at Houston
Texas Christian at East Carolina
Tulane at Marquette
UAB at Memphis
“I want to thank the fans for hanging in there with us,” said senior forward
Erroyl Bing after ECU topped Tulane 76-66 on Wednesday night in Williams
Arena at Minges Coliseum in a crucial game for the Pirates’ aspirations of
making the Conference USA Tournament field. “We’ve been knocking on the
door. We finally came through and finished one.”
The top 12 teams in the league among its 14 basketball-playing members make
the C-USA Tournament on March 10-13 in Cincinnati. [View
standings in a new window...]
“We knew it was a must-win situation,” said Herrion, who has kept the
Pirates focused on a breakthrough despite a series of disappointingly-close
In a 5-game home losing streak preceding the triumph over the Green Wave,
ECU’s average margin of defeat was six points.
“We told the kids prior to the game that it was a 5-game season,” Herrion
said. “To win five in a row, you have to win the first one.”
And that’s what the Pirates did as senior Derrick Wiley led the scoring with
22 points. Sophomore Belton Rivers stepped up with some crucial offense down
the stretch and totaled 16 points. Promising freshman Mike Cook had 14 in
the win and Bing added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Moussa Badiane had
nine points and six blocked shots. They don’t keep stats for how many shots
Badiane alters or affects.
“I am really happy for the kids,” Herrion said. “Even though we’ve been
losing a lot of very tough games lately against a lot of real quality
opponents, this is the best basketball my team has played in the five years
I have been here.”
Next up is Texas Christian, which is coming off a huge home win of its own.
ECU hosts the Horned Frogs at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. TCU had a 71-46 win
over No. 10 Louisville on Tuesday night, one of those outcomes that makes
you do a double take to make sure you’re reading it correctly on the bottom
of the ESPN screen.
It also will be a big weekend at Harrington Field for the baseball Pirates
as they host Delaware at 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on
Pitching was the unknown factor for the Pirates at the outset of the season
but so far the staff hasn’t presented cause to worry for ECU pitching coach
Tommy Eason. In a 4-0 start, ECU has a team earned run average of 1.00 with
38 strikeouts in 36 innings. The Pirates have allowed just 22 hits and 10
“So far so good,” Eason said. “It’s still early. We’re still trying to fill
roles. Our offense has given us enough leeway that it’s really been a
non-pressure situation for our pitchers. Time will tell when we’re put in
pressure situations as far as how our guys will respond.”
The Pirates are still evaluating new pitchers and veteran pitchers in new
“We’re still trying to find a closer,” Eason said. “And there’s a question
who will be our best three starters. Guys are throwing strikes and that
makes our job as coaches tough as far as evaluating.”
Delaware has ECU’s attention.
“They’re a scrappy team,” Eason said. “It will be a great challenge. Then
the next weekend we’ve got Clemson and Georgia Southern coming in.”
The Pirates will play a doubleheader on Friday, Feb. 27 against the visiting
teams and single games on Saturday and Sunday.
“That will get into our depth a little bit,” Eason said. “Our young guys as
well as the older guys have to learn to pitch in pressure situations.”
Carter Harrell, who has pitched on the collegiate level at North Carolina
and Louisburg, is 2-0 at ECU with a win in a start and another win out of
the bullpen. Former reliever Greg Bunn struck out eight in five innings in
his only start.
Craig Wells has been one of those vital behind-the-scenes guys in ECU
athletics, serving as director of media relations for the Pirates since
prior to the
2001 football season. His job has essentially been to facilitate members of
the media who cover ECU sports.
ECU has benefited greatly from Wells’ vast experience in Internet
communications as he and staff provide not only facts and figures for those
interested in ECU athletics but often managing to present them in an
entertaining manner. Wells has figuratively taking ecusports.com into the
21st century with chats with coaches, links to live coverage of Pirates
games and imaginative interactive polls relating to aspects of ECU
The downside to Wells’ position is long hours and too many working weekends.
That’s the main reason he’s leaving ECU, effective March 12.
Wells will take a position in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as a state government
publications manager. He knows he’s trading depth charts and injury reports
for annual reports and legal reviews.
“It was a tough thing to do but I was ready for a change of pace,” Wells
said. “It’s been a good job here, an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
I’ve worked with a lot of good people.”
Wells and wife Sami have vacationed in the area they will be moving to. A
more structured schedule and snow skiing a short distance away are big
“It’s an historical area with a lot of hiking available, too,” Wells said.
“We had thought about living out there when we had visited that area. An
opportunity came up and we couldn’t pass it up.”
Jody Jones, who is the primary men’s basketball contact in sports media
relations, has handled the department on an interim basis before. The hiring
of Wells’ replacement will likely be left up to the person who gets the
athletic director’s position.
“Craig has done an outstanding job for our athletics programs for the last 2
1/2 years,” said Nick Floyd, interim director of athletics for ECU. “We hate
to see him leave, however we understand his decision to make a change at
this point in his life. We wish him nothing but the best in his future
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