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College Sports in the Carolinas

View from the East
Monday, March 29, 2004

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Herrion talks about extension, Final Four


East Carolina basketball coach Bill Herrion received a 1-year contract extension through 2008 from the board of trustees on Friday.
The Pirates were 5-11 in Conference USA in 2003-04 and made the league tournament with a late season run.

“I’m very appreciative that they extended it another year,” Herrion said. “I’d like to think it says the administration thinks our basketball program is headed in the right direction. It also gives us time to build this thing. We’re not there yet.”

The membership of C-USA will change significantly after the 2004-05 scholastic year with the departure of many of the league’s present basketball powers.

“I want a chance in this new league in two years,” Herrion said.

In the more immediate future, Herrion was asked about the NCAA Tournament, which moves to a conclusion April 3, 5 in San Antonio.
Georgia Tech plays Oklahoma State and Duke meets Connecticut in Saturday’s semifinals.

“I’ve got UConn beating Duke,” Herrion said. “If UConn is healthy — especially with Emeka Okafor, the big kid in the middle, and they’ve got the guard, Ben Gordon, playing great — they’ve got older, veteran players. Right now, they’re playing very well.”

Herrion favors the Cowboys in the other semifinal because of their defensive ability. The Pirates coach sees UConn cutting down the nets next Monday night.

Football players return

A number of former ECU football players took part in the second annual Pirate Gridiron Classic after the abbreviated spring football game on Saturday. Former ECU gridders Troy Smith and Kevin Monroe put together the event at the Rose High Gym to benefit FUTURE, which assists underprivileged youth.

The former ECU gridders divided up for an entertaining basketball game on Saturday, which was won by Smith and Monroe’s Adult Soldiers team 60-55 over the Headhunters team coached by Devone “Biscuit” Claybrooks.

Ex-Pirates Eddie and Nick Crabtree provided the commentary on the public address system.

J.J. McQueen won the halftime dunk contest over John Williamson and Damane Duckett. It was fortunate that Duckett didn’t break the backboard after pulling one of the rims down about 45 degrees on one of his powerful dunk efforts.

This event really needs to be on campus next year so that former players and Pirate fans have a better chance to reconnect. Among those sighted in the game were Dan Gonzalez, David Garrard, Phoenix Evans, Marc Yellock, Buck Collins, Keith Stokes, B.J. Crane, Samien Jones, Larry Shannon, Forrest Foster, Marcellus Harris, Scott Harley, Pernell Griffin and Tomha McMillan.

Rod Coleman attended and watched. Coleman, who recently signed a huge contract with the Atlanta Falcons, picked up the tab when many of the former ECU stars went out on Friday night.

“I’m tight with my money,” Coleman said. “But I don’t mind spending to keep the fun going with my friends.”

Coleman will wear number 75 as defensive end for the Falcons instead of number 57, which he wore at ECU and with the Oakland Raiders.

“Number 57 is retired,” Coleman said.

Garrard looked to be in excellent shape at 237 pounds.

AD search

The search committee for the athletics director’s position at ECU is scheduled to meet on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at a location near the Raleigh-Durham Airport. The group will review and discuss its work to this point, possibly to prepare a list of candidates to recommend to incoming chancellor Steve Ballard. One source said the committee will also interview retired colonel Randall Spetman, the former athletics director at Air Force.

Thompson on what he saw Saturday

ECU football coach John Thompson was disappointed at having to call off the spring football game just before halftime on Saturday with the Purple (first offense, second defense) and Gold (first D, second O) tied at 7-7 when a thunderstorm came through.

“I saw us kind of feeling our way out at first,” Thompson said. “I didn’t see a whole lot of pads popping. We looked like kind of a tired football team a little bit earlier. There was a dropped pass, there was a busted coverage, but as the game went on I saw some people making plays. The defense came up with a couple of big plays. Patrick (Dosh) started throwing the ball semi-crisply there.

“We were starting to do some things. I think our offense showed that we are going to get the ball to some different people.”

The Pirates have a scrimmage scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday.

A 71-yard interception return by Josh Chilsom set up Purple’s tying touchdown. Chilsom picked off Desmond Robinson, who earlier had driven the Gold for a short scoring pass.

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02/23/2007 12:45:20 AM

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