Every team in Conference USA, which
includes top-ranked Memphis, is getting its turn in the national
spotlight. That was East Carolina coach Mack McCarthy's take on the
situation when asked if the Tigers' success was diminishing focus on the
rest of the league.
"I think it
kind of highlights what the rest of the conference is doing," McCarthy
said. "On one hand, no one has been able to beat 'em but Houston played
well against them (Jan. 30). UTEP played well in Memphis the other day.
"I think you begin to shine the light
on them a little bit. There's Houston at (18-4). UAB, despite a couple
of personnel losses — one academically and one injury-wise — they're 6-2
in the league and 17-7 overall and starting to play really well.
"Tulane with Dave Dickerson has done a
heckuva job. UTEP played extremely well the other day. Central Florida
is really talented. There are a lot of good stories — Marshall improving
under Donnie Jones. Southern Miss — when they shoot the basketball —
they can play with anybody in the league.
"I think you can go right down through
the league and tell a good story about everybody. I think the attention
on Memphis is actually bringing more attention to the other good stories
in the league."
Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 22 points
as the Tigers rallied from their first halftime deficit since facing
Southern California in New York on Dec. 4 with a 68-59 victory over
Houston on Wednesday night.
The Tigers have won 47 straight games
at the FedEx Forum, 53 consecutive regular season games and 33 in a row
Memphis is 24-0 overall and 10-0 in the
league with a shot at becoming the first unbeaten Division I team in
college hoops since Indiana in 1976.
Pirates beaten on boards
In the context of an 83-49 loss at
Marshall on Saturday, East Carolina was working on a good story of its
own on Wednesday night as the Pirates led Tulsa by eight points in the
ECU was up 33-25 with 18:36 to go after
trailing by as many as nine points in the first half. The Pirates'
largest lead came after Darrell Jenkins assisted James Legan on a
three-pointer. Legan hit five of his nine three-point attempts and led
ECU with 18 points.
Jenkins surpassed 300 assists for his
Pirate career, the fifth player in school history to reach that plateau.
But the Golden Hurricane came back to
spoil the occasion with a 66-61 win in Williams Arena at Minges
"We expected a defensive game,"
McCarthy said. "We knew we weren't going to score a whole lot of points
but the answer to that was we kept them from scoring very many."
ECU is 6-1 this season when scoring 70
or more points.
"We're mainly a jump shooting team,"
McCarthy said. "We have some post players who can score but they're not
going to post you up and draw contact. We really don't have anybody who
can drive and finish at the rim — maybe Brandon Evans a little bit."
One glaring disparity on a
fairly-balanced stat sheet was Tulsa's 45-33 lead in rebounding.
"The rebounding is probably the
difference," said the Pirates coach. "Free throws were about even. The
threes are about even. The twos are about even. Turnovers are about
even. We both shared the ball well. The difference comes down to the
backboard where they had 19 offensive rebounds."
None of the caroms claimed off Tulsa's
offensive glass were any bigger than that of Calvin Walls with 50
seconds left when his follow shot put the visitors ahead to stay at
McCarthy said Walls set a screen to
free up the initial shooter on the play and the defensive rotation
failed to check him off the board.
Still, the Pirates were much more
competitive than in Saturday's game at Marshall.
"Our guys played as together and as
well as they have in a while," McCarthy said. "I'm hurting for them
because they gave such a great effort tonight."
Other than the final score there was
another disappointing aspect to the loss and that was a lack of crowd
support. Pirate fans showed the impact they can have in a 75-69 win over
N.C. State earlier this season when the building was virtually full and
Attendance was announced at 3,731 on
Wednesday night but looked smaller. The figure probably included tickets
sold with quite a few no-shows. The homecourt advantage that was so
pronounced against the Wolfpack just wasn't there.
"Meet the Pirates" sold out
ECU officials have announced that there
are no more tickets available for the "Meet the Pirates" baseball event
in Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center on Saturday. Players will be on hand
for pictures and autographs at 11 a.m. A catered meal will be served.
In the past, the event has served as
the forum for the announcement as to which player has been selected to
wear No. 23 in honor of late ECU baseball coach Keith LeClair. The
Pirates have an intrasquad scrimmage at 3 p.m. at Clark-LeClair Stadium
and will be introduced at halftime of the Southern Miss basketball game,
which is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
The Pirates open the season on Friday,
Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. with the first of a three-game series at South
Carolina. ECU's first home game is a week later, Feb. 29, at 5 p.m.
Preseason rankings have the Pirates No.
24 nationally, according to Baseball America, and second in C-USA —
behind Rice — in a poll of league coaches.
Third-year coach Billy Godwin has his
staff returning intact. That group includes hitting coach Link Jarrett,
pitching coach Bill Jarman, volunteer assistant Ben Sanderson and
director of baseball operations, Brian Cavanaugh.
Sanderson was the first Pirate to wear
No. 23 after LeClair when Sanderson was a senior in 2003. Cavanaugh wore
it in 2005. Others to be so honored because they displayed the qualities
of hustle, determination and desire that Coach LeClair exemplified
include Jamie Paige in 2004, Adam Witter in 2006 and Chris Powell last