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Watch for Al Myatt's profile of new ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Thursday, August 19, 2004

By Al Myatt

Deja Vu: Pirates to tip off in BCA Tourney

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Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate


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Once again, East Carolina will open a basketball season in the Black Coaches Association Tournament at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

The Pirates began 2001-02 in the same event and same venue, defeating Rutgers and Northwestern before falling to host N.C. State in the final. Maybe you remember that the win over Northwestern coincided with a 39-34 football loss to Louisville in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium the same night.

What made the wins over the Big East Scarlet Knights and the Big Ten Wildcats all the more remarkable was that the Pirates played without the post presences of Moussa Badiane and Gabriel Mikulas, who were sitting out after playing on foreign teams that had included pro players before they arrived at ECU.

This year's BCA field will include host NCSU, Oregon State, the Pirates, Pepperdine, New Orleans, Sienna, Fairleigh-Dickinson and Elon.

The BCA tournament runs Nov. 17-19, which is a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. There will be no conflict with football this time, around although the Pirates do play Memphis in Greenville on Sat., Nov. 20.

Because of new NCAA regulations, ECU will no longer tune up for the season by blowing away the likes of the World Young Stars or the Charlotte Stars in exhibition games.

The new regulations allow Division I programs to play open exhibitions against Division II teams or closed-to-the-public scrimmages against other D-I programs. ECU coach Bill Herrion welcomes the new NCAA mandates.

"Under the old rules, you paid a lot of money to get bad teams and you got nothing out of it," Herrion said. "We'll play a Division II team probably the first week in November and another Division II team the second week in November.

"With a Division II team you'll get someone who runs an offense and has things they're trying to do on defense, unlike some of these AAU clubs."

ECU may meet Barton, formerly Atlantic Christian, in one of its preseason matchups. The Pirate staff is also talking with Belmont Abbey and St. Andrews about its other preseason date.

Among highlights of the non-conference schedule are games with South Carolina in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 20 and at Clemson on Wed., Dec. 29. The matchup with the Gamecocks is part of a prelude to the GMAC Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium the following night. ECU is 0-47 all-time against ACC teams.

The Pirates will play at Gardner-Webb on Nov. 23, host Toledo on Dec. 1, play Old Dominion at home on Dec. 12, and host Winthrop on Dec. 17. The Conference USA portion of the schedule will be announced later.

Classes start at ECU on Aug. 25 and Herrion will hold a team meeting late that afternoon. Preseason workouts will begin the following Monday, Aug. 30. The Pirate coaching staff can work with groups of four players or fewer before official practice begins. The ECU players will also be lifting weights, conditioning and playing pick-up games on their own in the preseason.

"We had a great offseason in the weight room," Herrion said.

LaSalle link lacked substance

Andy Katz of ESPN stated that LaSalle might bring Bill Herrion back to Philadelphia to fill its basketball coaching vacancy.

"I think that was speculation because I obviously worked in Philadelphia for eight years," Herrion said. "I think they were just trying to attach names to it."

Herrion was 121-32 in eight seasons at Drexel with three NCAA berths and one trip to the NIT. He still works the city of brotherly love thoroughly in recruiting with three Philly products — Mike Cook, Charles Bronson and Marvin Kilgore — on this season's ECU roster.

"This is home right now," said Herrion, who is under contract at ECU through 2008. "I have a daughter (Caitlin), who will be a senior at Rose High and a son (Ryan), who will be a freshman. There's a lot more other factors to consider when something like that pops up."

Herrion is 61-79 in five seasons at ECU, steering the Pirates into highly-competitive C-USA during that span. A number of C-USA's basketball powers depart for other leagues after next season.


The focus of football practice has shifted from numerous repetitions last week in split squad workouts — designed to find out who among the younger players might be able to contribute — to preparing for the season with the players who will be on the field the most in 2004 starting to get the bulk of the work.


The total of 575 passing yards in Tuesday's scrimmage was impressive but was accumulated with 120 snaps. An offense typically gets about 70 snaps in a game. Still, new offensive coordinator Noah Brindise showed some flair with the passing game. The big thing is to go vertical, stretch defenses and let the running backs take advantage of the resultant space. Running back Marvin Townes was back in workouts on Wednesday after sitting out the scrimmage. Wet conditions forced the Pirates off the Cliff Moore practice facility on Wednesday and into the stadium.


The Pirates were supposed to see a movie last Saturday night but Coach John Thompson dismissed the team so players concerned about the effects of Hurricane Charley could check on their residences in Greenville and those from areas in Charley's path could check on their families.


The next scheduled scrimmage for the Pirates is at 3:30 p.m. pm Saturday. The 10th annual Meet the Pirates meal is at 7 p.m. Reservations are required for the supper event, which features the ECU players for autographs and photos.


Coach Thompson's bonding process in August a year ago helped the team stay together and playing hard despite a 1-11 record in 2003. The Pirates stayed at the City Hotel, bused to campus together, ate as a group, went to movies and also went swimming.

Although Coach Thompson went away from the hotel concept this year, the Pirates have been spending 12-hour days together with meetings, practices and conditioning followed by more meetings and practices. Some entertainment relief is scheduled for Sunday night with a team talent show.


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02/23/2007 12:46:17 AM

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