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Watch for Al Myatt's profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in this summer's Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Monday, June 28, 2004

By Al Myatt

Chance ahead to cure 0-for-ACC hoops blight


For the first time since Dec. 3, 1994, and a 100-74 loss at Georgia Tech, East Carolina will have a regular season game scheduled against an Atlantic Coast Conference foe in basketball. The 2004-05 schedule is expected to include a late December trip to Clemson.

ECU played N.C. State in an early season tournament in 2001-02 but that meeting resulted after the Pirates defeated Rutgers and Northwestern to match up with the Wolfpack in the championship game.

The Tigers are paying the Pirates for the upcoming non-conference contest. There will be no return game in Greenville as the contract is structured.

Playing ACC opponents has been a futile experience for the Pirates but the degree of athleticism in the program has increased substantially through recruiting in ECU's three seasons in Conference USA. Still, playing on the road is a tremendous disadvantage in college basketball and ACC teams have avoided playing in Greenville. North Carolina won a game in Greenville 79-63 in 1952-53, the season before the ACC was formed.

The Pirates beat Georgia Tech 66-64 in Atlanta in 1978-79, the season before the Yellow Jackets joined the ACC.

A review of the ECU records shows that the Pirates are 0-47 against ACC teams in hoops. ECU's most frequent ACC opponent has been Duke. The Pirates are 0-20 against the Blue Devils, according to unofficial research. ECU is 0-15 against N.C. State, 0-6 at Maryland, 0-3 versus Wake Forest, 0-2 against Georgia Tech and 0-1 against UNC-CH, losing to the Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA Tournament.

State stopped playing ECU regularly in Raleigh in 1982-83. Duke last played the Pirates in 1991-92.

ECU has never played Clemson in hoops, according to a perusal of season-by-season results. The Tigers have traditionally been one of the weaker hoops programs in the ACC and are undergoing a rebuilding effort under second-year coach Oliver Purnell.

ECU will be young but athletic. The Pirates may have a shot at breaking that string of goose eggs against ACC teams that dates back to an 83-67 loss at N.C. State on Jan. 20, 1968.

Hoops notes

Chad Reynolds, a 1996 ECU graduate who has served for three years as ECU's director of basketball operations, will be named hoops coach at Parrott Academy in Kinston this week. Reynolds has his masters degree in athletics administration. ... Rising sophomore wing player Frank Robinson still has not indicated if he will return for the 2004-05 season. ... Rising sophomore point guard Japhet McNeil has gotten stronger in workouts with strength coach Jim Whitten.

Fan involvement for football

ECU football coach John Thompson has come up with more means to get fans close to his Pirates program. There will be a women's clinic at the Murphy Center on Aug. 5 in which rules and fundamentals will be discussed. Registration begins at 4 p.m. and the program should conclude around 9 p.m. Cost is $40, which includes snacks and a T-shirt.

The following day ECU will hold a fantasy camp for men with registration beginning at 9 a.m. Cost is $125. That includes on-field instruction, a T-shirt and shorts. The practice sessions will be videotaped and performances will be evaluated by the coaches. There will be discussions of various aspects of ECU football.

"I first heard about this idea from Bill Johnson (Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach) when he was at Arkansas," Thompson said. "They did something like this at Texas A&M. We wanted to do something where we could get to know people and people could get to know our program.

"It will sort of take them through the day in a life of a player. We'll have meetings and we'll give them a pep talk. We'll teach 'em how we go about practicing football. It's about fun and about being a Pirate for a day. It's for guys who have an interest in our program and an interest in football. The timing is good because that's just before we open up practice. We'll be juiced up and ready to go."

Thompson said proceeds will go to the Pirate Club.

"Maybe we'll find a player while we're at it," he said.

For more information on the women's clinic or fantasy camp, contact the football office at (252) 328-4570.

Thompson favors title game

Coach Thompson understands why there is debate among C-USA CEO's about playing a football title game but he favors the idea.

"They're looking a where the Bowl Championship Series is headed and thinking in terms of accessibility to the BCS," he said. "If a team is 11-0 and loses in the C-USA championship game, that could cost the league a lot of money if that loss knocks that team out of the BCS. There are also questions about whether a neutral site is feasible and whether a campus site would be fair. They're also looking at what a television package would get.

"I understand all those factors but I want a championship game. You just have to keep winning."

J.T. hits the links

Coach Thompson was in his hometown of Forest City, Ark., last week for "The Ralph," a golf tournament honoring his dad and former high school football coach, the late Ralph Thompson. The ECU coach got to see some former players and teammates at the function which raised money for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Thompson also has made a Sandhills swing during the offseason. He recently played Pinehurst Nos. 2, 4, 7 and the challenging Tobacco Road layout in Sanford.

Reader shares tale

Jim Craver of Richardson, Texas sent me an e-mail after a column this spring about former ECU baseball coach Earl Smith.

Craver wrote:

"I played for one year under Coach Smith in 1968 until I hurt my arm and had to hang up the spikes. We affectionately called Coach Smith 'Goose' because of his rather plump belly and skinny legs. One day the trainer, whose name I have long forgotten, Coach Smith and Coach (George) Williams were together. The trainer says to Coach Smith, 'Do you know the players all call you 'Goose'?' Well, Coach Williams roared laughing at that remark, and the trainer said, 'Don't laugh, George, they call you 'mini-goose.' "


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02/23/2007 12:45:53 AM

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