College Sports in the Carolinas
Don't miss Al Myatt's
profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004
from the East
Monday, December 20, 2004
By Al Myatt
Faltering Pirates face USC at
home of the hex
WHERE TO BUY...
PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
Tracking the Classes
NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
New Leader Takes Charge
SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door
KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams
BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
East Carolina's basketball team traveled by bus and plane on Sunday to
Mobile, Ala., a locale that inspires various trains of thought in relation
to Pirate athletics.
ECU meets South Carolina in hoops at 7 p.m. as part of the Coors Basketball
Doubleheader at the 10,000-seat Mitchell Center on the campus of South
Alabama. The host Jaguars meet Southern Miss in the second game.
The basketball action is a prelude to the sixth annual GMAC Bowl, which this
year sends Memphis (8-3) of Conference USA against Bowling Green (8-3) of
the Mid-American Conference.
ECU was responsible for getting the Mobile bowl event off on the right foot
by taking about 9,000 fans to the inaugural matchup with Texas Christian, a
28-14 win for the Horned Frogs, back in 1999. The Frogs had running back
LaDanian Tomlinson, who has since established his credentials in the NFL.
This year's game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium could be the final collegiate
hurrah for another outstanding back, junior DeAngelo Williams of the Tigers,
whose presence caused The Sporting News to rate the game three remote
controls (out of four) for watchability (as opposed to one remote for
Thursday night's Fort Worth Bowl between Cincinnati and Marshall).
The Pirates returned to Mobile in 2001 for that agonizing 64-61
double-overtime loss to Marshall in the GMAC Bowl. Both starting
quarterbacks in that high-scoring matchup, David Garrard of ECU and Byron
Leftwich of the Thundering Herd, now play for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
ECU has never won a football game in the state of Alabama but the Pirate
cagers will be looking for better fortune when they challenge the Gamecocks
of former ECU coach Dave Odom tonight.
ECU is coming off a 70-55 home loss to Winthrop. Pirates coach Bill Herrion
expressed disappointment in terms of some players' efforts after the loss
dropped ECU to 4-4.
"It is a concern," Herrion said Sunday. "The thing that disappointed me
not taking anything away from Winthrop, they're a fine basketball team was
that I don't think our team played as hard as they typically do. That was
"I'm not saying that's true of every kid. (Corey) Rouse, (Japhet) McNeil and
(Jonathan) Hart some of the guys played hard. Some of our supposedly
better players did not and that's an issue."
South Carolina is 5-2 after a 64-60 loss at Kansas on Saturday. Forward
Carlos Powell leads the Gamecocks in scoring (15.6) and rebounding (6.1).
Guard Tre' Kelley averages 11.1 for Odom's club and forward Tarence Kinsey
has a 9.9 scoring average.
"It's probably better that we're playing somebody really good right now,"
Herrion said. "It's good that it's at a neutral site, but we kind of need to
see where we are right now. South Carolina is very quick and athletic and
they will probably press us. One thing Winthrop was able to do was force us
into turnovers in the first half.
"When South Carolina presses, we've got to be able to handle the pressure.
We've got to handle the ball and take care of the pressure."
ECU's 6-10 freshman Charles Bronson did not make the trip because of an
academic issue that has kept him out of action for ECU's first eight games.
"We'll probably make a determination (on Bronson) right before Christmas,"
said the ECU coach.
Plans call for the Pirates to return to campus on Tuesday and have a
practice that day. Then Herrion will allow the players to go home for
Christmas. ECU doesn't play again until a Wednesday, Dec. 29 game at 7 p.m.
Former Colorado football coach Bill McCartney was scheduled to speak at a
Fellowship of Christian athletes breakfast in Mobile today. Former Georgia
Tech hoops coach Bobby Cremins, who now does color commentary for South
Carolina games, will be the guest speaker at a luncheon today.
The GMAC Bowl will be played on Wednesday night, which is exactly five years
ago to the day of ECU's first bowl appearance in Mobile. Guest speakers that
year included Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer and major league baseball career
hits leader Pete Rose.
Fulmer was a candidate for the coaching position at ECU in 1992 when Steve
Logan got the job. Rose told media at the Mobile Bowl in 1999 in no
uncertain terms that he had not bet on baseball.
Fulmer has turned out to be a pretty good head coach in his own right at
Tennessee and Rose, of course, recanted on his no-betting claim.
ECU needs a change, too, in terms of its basketball effort. Tonight would be
a good time to start.
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