East Carolina had some emotional Minges
moments in the second half of a 75-62 Conference USA basketball win over
Marshall on Wednesday night.
atmosphere of Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum can bring out the best
in the Pirates and the crowd of 4,111 got involved as ECU erased a 48-40
deficit over the last 15:05. Appropriately, Sam Hinnant ignited the
comeback with a three-pointer.
A 6-foot-4 junior guard from Charlotte,
Hinnant was 6 of 10 behind the arc and totaled a game-high 24 points
against the Thundering Herd. Senior guard Darrell Jenkins, the
Conference USA assist leader, finished with 14 points and pushed his
season assist accumulation to 114.
Jenkins set the ECU season assist
record last season with 166. He's ahead of pace to snap that mark.
Speaking of being ahead of pace, the Pirates improved to 7-8 overall
with the victory that put them at 1-1 in league play. ECU has exceeded
the overall win total for last year's club, which went 6-24.
Freshman guard Brock Young, the nephew
of former Wake Forest and NBA guard Danny Young, dropped eight of 10
free throws as he contributed 12 points.
Jenkins and Young were turnover free in
their combined 54 minutes.
James Legan had a personal flurry that
included a three that tied the game at 56 with 6:52 to go and a lay-up
with 5:24 left that put ECU ahead to stay at 58-56. The Pirates
outscored the Herd 35-14 over the final 15:05.
ECU coach Mack McCarthy credited more
effective defense in the latter stages. Marshall made 56.5 percent of
its field goal attempts in the first half (13 for 23) but was limited to
8 for 21 shooting (38.1 percent) after the break.
"The key was we slowed them down in the
zone press," McCarthy said. "We did a much better job with dribble
penetration and stopping some second shots. All around we were a little
"We executed much better the second
half and we rebounded better as a team the second half too. We stopped
the guys coming off the ball screens and squared up the offensive guys
Special incentive vs. Knights
In six previous seasons in C-USA play,
the Pirates have never started as well as 2-1 in the league. They have
the opportunity for their best C-USA record after three games when they
host Central Florida on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Pirates won their C-USA opener
during the 2002-03 season by topping Marquette 73-70 in Greenville. ECU
dropped its next two C-USA games that season to Charlotte and
Louisville. The Pirates have been 0-3 after three league games in every
other season of C-USA play.
Although C-USA doesn't have its former
depth of powerful programs, the UCF game represents an opportunity to
make a statement of improvement for the Pirates. Perhaps ECU can find
some more Minges magic. The homecourt advantage certainly helped the
Pirates recover from a 99-58 loss at No. 2 Memphis in the league opener
a week earlier.
UCF will come to Greenville with
momentum. Although the Knights were idle this week, they played their
first C-USA game at the new UCF Arena last Saturday and rose to the
occasion by topping Tulsa 97-91 in triple overtime.
Jermaine Taylor, a 6-4 junior guard,
hit a pair of threes in the third overtime against the Golden Hurricane
as he scored 28 points. The Knights improved to 9-7 overall and 2-0 in
C-USA. UCF set a home attendance record with a crowd of 7,097.
"That is what college basketball is all
about. It was a special game... a special atmosphere," said UCF head
coach Kirk Speraw. "I am proud of our guys and the effort and composure
we had. I am proud of our fans that were into it and lively."
Night of special occasions
note: This sub-section corrects errors in an earlier version of this
The 2007 Hawaii Bowl champion football
team will be recognized at halftime of the ECU-UCF game on Saturday. The Pirates topped Boise State 41-38
for their first postseason triumph since 2000.
The inaugural class of the VanSant
Society will also be presented. The society is named in honor of former ECU
football player, coach and administrator Henry VanSant. It honors Pirate
Club members with 25 years of consecutive giving.
Dr. VanSant died at the age of 70 on
March 16, 2006. He was a deserving member of the ECU athletic hall of
fame and it is fitting that a group which recognizes long term support
will bear his name.
Godwin likes team's work ethic
East Carolina baseball coach Billy
Godwin has been pleased with his club's approach toward offseason
improvement as the Pirates prepare to open practice on Feb. 1.
"They realize how close we are to
taking that next step," Godwin said. "I truly mean this. This group has
really buckled down and been more focused and determined going through
our fall preparation and the way we approach this. The work in the
weight room and what we've done on the field has been better than any
club I've had.
"If you're a coach and you're looking
at that, it certainly excites you. This group feels like it's got
something to prove. They're very focused and they're going to be gritty.
"We've got a good balance offensively
of speed and power. We've got guys at the top and bottom of our lineup
who can run. I call 'em table setters. Then we've got guys in the middle
of the lineup who can step in there and hit for power and drive guys
Payday coming for Garrard
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David
Garrard, who led his team to a 12-6 record that included an
unprecedented two wins in Pittsburgh, will be in the final year of his
current contract in 2008.
Vito Stellino of the Florida
Times-Union speculates that Garrard's new deal with the Jags will be
between Matt Schaub's $48 million contract with the Houston Texans and
Tony Romo's $67.5 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys, which are both
for six years.
That would make the former ECU star the
highest paid player in Jacksonville team history.
He also stands to become the highest
paid athlete ECU has produced. Garrard signed a $5.25 million contract
for three years with the Jaguars in 2005.
Former Pirate Rod Coleman inked a
6-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons in 2004 for $24 million. The
Arizona Diamondbacks signed ex-ECU star Chad Tracy to a 3-year deal in
2006 for $13.25 million.
Hopefully, Garrard can steer some of
his escalating wealth toward the Pirate Club.