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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Friday, November 5, 2004

By Al Myatt

Herrion's lab rats cook up potent mix




Bill Herrion has been a college basketball head coach for 14 seasons but he watched East Carolina's 90-45 exhibition win over outmanned Newberry unfold like a scientist monitoring the progress of an experiment.

"I don't know if I've ever gone into a game or an exhibition with as much unknown as we did tonight," Herrion said Thursday night as he reviewed tape of ECU's conquest which came before a crowd of 3,849 inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.

The Pirates coach may not have known what to expect but he liked what he saw as the experiment played out.

"I was very impressed with how hard our kids played," Herrion said. "That's how it's been in practice. The kids have really been getting after each other. I thought the effort was tremendous."

There comes a time in preseason practice when returns on intrasquad scrimmages diminish. Each unit knows what the other is running and such matchups fail to provide true indicators.

"We really needed to play somebody different," Herrion said. "I was real encouraged. We've got so many new kids and nobody played nervous. I was really impressed with that."

ECU outscored Newberry 37-6 off of turnovers. Youthful guards Marvin Kilgore, a freshman, and Japhet McNeil, a sophomore, led a balanced ECU attack with 14 points each.

Although Newberry is a far cry from Conference USA powers such as Cincinnati and Louisville, the Pirates rolled despite the absence of big men Moussa Badiane and Charles Bronson.

Badiane had surgery Monday on his right thumb. The projected recovery period of two to three weeks takes him into the time frame of the BCA Tournament in Raleigh where ECU meets Pepperdine at noon on Nov. 17 at the RBC Center in the opening game of the 8-team event.

"We're going to see when he's ready," Herrion said. "It's a more of a pain issue and we're not going to rush him. We need him but this is a big year for Moussa individually, too. The healthier he is, the better we're going to be."

Badiane finished his junior season with more presence on the offensive end, more control in terms of committing fouls and as more of a rebounding force. ECU needed him to step up after a season-ending injury to Gabe Mikulas in mid-January and Badaine obliged.

The stringy shot blocker showed more balance in his game and that has attracted some interest from NBA scouts. Mark Friedinger of the San Antonio Spurs and George Felton of the Indiana Pacers have been in to take a look at Badiane in the preseason.

Bronson, a freshman from Philadelphia, missed the opening exhibition because of an academic issue, which will be evaluated within the next week. The matter apparently doesn't involve Bronson's eligibility.

Coincidently, transfer David Bell, a forward who left the program at LaSalle to be a Pirate, had knee surgery the same day that Badiane had surgery on his thumb. Bell, who has to sit out this season, but could have practiced, will be out of action for two to three months.

No official word has been issued yet on the status of guard Jeremy Ingram in regard to the Pirates. Ingram, a product of the Kinston High program that developed ECU forward Corey Rouse, has indicated that he plans to leave Wake Forest for ECU after first semester.

Holland's take on Pirate hoops

Although he was busy talking to ECU supporters during a hoops scrimmage that preceded ECU's 38-28 football win over Army on Saturday, new athletic director Terry Holland has developed a perspective on the challenges Coach Herrion's program has faced.

"They really inherited a team that wasn't that competitive in the Colonial (Athletic Association) and then had to move to Conference USA, which is a very powerful basketball league," Holland said. "They've gradually built a competitive program. The next step is winning games in Conference USA and being a factor in the regular season race."

Pinkney's status

ECU quarterback James Pinkney was among three ECU players who received injuries in a one-car accident Wednesday night in which reserve offensive lineman Trey Magee was apparently driving.

Pinkney received an unspecified leg injury. Starting center Hunter Wood hurt his shoulder and Magee received facial injuries. Magee was cited for having an open alcoholic beverage container that was discovered during a search of the vehicle.

Magee passed a road breathalyzer test.

Pirates coach John Thompson indicated Magee would be disciplined within the team framework. Thompson said some late changes would be necessitated in preparing for the game at Houston (5 p.m., EST, WITN-7) on Saturday.

"On the fortunate side, I'm thankful they weren't seriously hurt or worse," Thompson said.

Thompson expressed confidence in back-up quarterback Desmond Robinson and the offensive line, although the word from inside the athletic department is that Pinkney is expected to be physically able to play.

Spurrier eludes Gator hunt

ECU offensive coordinator Noah Brindise said on Talk 1070's Bonesville Power Hour on Wednesday night that he would like to see his former boss Steve Spurrier return as coach of the Florida Gators.

Spurrier balked at assuming his old duties in Gainesville, FL, by taking his name out of consideration to replace John Thompson's former boss, Ron Zook. Spurrier said the 12 years he spent as Florida coach were enough.


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02/23/2007 12:46:49 AM

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