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CHRONICLING ECU & C-USA SPORTS
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View from the 'ville
Thursday, February 28, 2008

By Al Myatt

Bucs welcome new-found bounty

By Al Myatt
©2008 Bonesville.net
All rights reserved.

East Carolina basketball coach Mack McCarthy wasn't sure what team he was watching as the Pirates spurted to a 47-22 lead at the half and eventually overwhelmed Southern Methodist 82-54 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Wednesday night.

"I pinched myself a couple of times and then somebody else pinched me," said the Pirates coach.

ECU turned the tables after losing its last five games by an average margin of 20.8 points.

McCarthy said the turnaround began earlier this week following a 91-62 loss at Texas-El Paso on Saturday.

"We probably won this game in practice on Monday," McCarthy said. "We really got after each other and responded to the disappointing performance at UTEP, where they just played great and we didn't have many answers for 'em.

"That happens sometime for a team that's trying to build its way up from the bottom. Everybody just played really hard tonight."

In addition to the effective practice session on Monday, McCarthy said he received an e-mail on Wednesday that questioned his program's talent, unity and coaching. He shared the contents with his team and challenged them to "play hard and play together."

ECU staked out a gold mine beyond the three-point line against the Mustangs. The Pirates hit 10 of 15 behind the arc in the first half and five of nine in the second half to finish at 62.5 percent from long distance.

ECU's long-range shooting made it a long night for Matt Doherty, the former North Carolina player and coach who is now in his second season as hoops boss at SMU.

"We gave them some open looks," Doherty said. "Then they got their confidence and then they didn't miss. We had a total breakdown, especially in the first half."

The Mustangs and Pirates came in with identical 8-17 records. Both were 2-10 in Conference USA. But it was ECU that seized the moment and wrung something positive out of its tailspin. SMU lost its fifth straight.

"It was a very embarrassing performance," Doherty said. "For me personally, coming back to North Carolina in front of some family and friends, you want to perform well. So when your team doesn't, it's personally more embarrassing."

ECU answered its distressing performances of late with a virtual cavalry charge. Cory Farmer seemed to be celebrating Senior Night a game early as he led all scorers with 20 points on six of seven shooting behind the arc.

Sam Hinnant knocked down five of nine from long distance and finished with 15 points. John Fields and Jamar Abrams tallied 14 each. Gabe Blair had 10 points. Blair, Fields and Darrell Jenkins each had five rebounds as ECU won the board battle, 36-29, against the bigger Mustangs. Jenkins dealt out 11 assists to almost double his Conference USA leading production of 6.0 per game. Chad Wynn had four of ECU's eight blocked shots.

"We had 25 assists," McCarthy said. "That speaks volumes about unity."

Bob Burke on hand

As coach at Chowan for 38 years, Bob Burke was a fixture on the basketball scene in eastern North Carolina. He was on press row doing some scouting on Wednesday night as a special assistant to Portland Trailblazers coach Nate McMillan, who played for him at Chowan.

Burke has moved back to North Carolina from the West Coast and resides between Wilson and Clayton. He flies to where the Blazers are playing when the team is on the East Coast. He watches the other games on television and communicates daily with McMillan.

"Matt's got a lot of work to do," said Burke as he watched ECU roll past Matt Doherty's SMU program 82-54 on Wednesday night.

Doherty values relationship with Holland

SMU coach Matt Doherty made a point at the close of his postgame remarks to comment on the respect he has for ECU athletic director Terry Holland.

"This is my first time here (at ECU) as a coach," Doherty said. "I think Mack (McCarthy) has done a great job. You know you guys are fortunate to have Terry Holland as your AD. I'm a big Terry Holland fan. I've known Coach Holland since 1979. He recruited me to Virginia.

"I played against him when I played at North Carolina. When I left coaching at North Carolina, he was a good friend to me and gave me great leadership through a tough transitional period. He's one of the most respected people in the profession.

"I just share that with you. ... I don't get paid to say that. I have a lot of respect for Coach Holland and all that you're doing here at ECU."

Pirates get some inside production

When ECU gets some offense from its inside players it helps open things up for a team that relies heavily on its jump shooting, and can be devastating from 3-point territory. Sophomore post players John Fields and Gabe Blair combined for 24 points against SMU. With the Mustangs forced to defend on the interior, ECU hit 15 of 24 shots behind the arc.

Papa Dia, a 6-foot-9 forward from Senegal, led SMU with 16 points and six rebounds. Despite Dia and 7-1 Bamba Fall, another player from Senegal, ECU held a 36-29 rebounding advantage.

"Bamba is really long," Fields said. "He alters shots. I had to use different angles to get over him. Dia hit a couple of shots. I had to get up on him and check his breath."

BOX SCORE

EAST CAROLINA 82, SOUTHERN METHODIST 54

Date: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008.
Site: Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum, Greenville, NC.
Attendance:  5,805.
Officials: Jaime Luckie, Steven Pyatt, Kelly Groom.
Technical Fouls: None.

SCORE BY PERIODS     1   2  FINAL
Southern Methodist  22  32 -   54
East Carolina       47  35 -   82
 

SOUTHERN METHODIST (8-18, 2-11 C-USA)
PLAYER                  FG   3PT    FT   R  PTS  MIN
Dia ................. 7-15   0-0   2-5   6   16   29
Fall.................  3-6   0-0   2-4   5    8   19
Killen............... 2-10   0-6   0-0   2    4   32
Roberts..............  4-7   3-5   1-2   3   12   32
Harp.................  2-4   0-1   0-0   1    4   28
Ritter...............  1-3   0-0   0-0   3    2   13
Malone...............  2-8   0-2   0-0   2    4   15
Walker...............  0-4   0-4   0-0   1    0   19
Spencer..............  2-2   0-0   0-0   4    4   13
TEAM.................                    2
TOTALS...............23-59  3-18  5-11  29   54  200
PERCENT.............. .390  .167  .455

EAST CAROLINA (9-17, 3-10 C-USA)
PLAYER                  FG   3PT    FT   R  PTS  MIN
Fields...............  5-7   0-0   4-6   5   14   23
Blair................  5-9   0-0   0-0   5   10   22
Farmer...............  7-8   6-7   0-0   3   20   30
Hinnant.............. 5-11   5-9   0-0   3   15   31
Jenkins..............  1-4   1-2   0-0   5    3   25
Legan................  0-4   0-2   0-0   1    0    9
Young................  0-4   0-1   2-2   1    2   14
Gagnon...............  0-1   0-0   0-0   1    0    9
Abrams...............  5-7   3-3   1-1   3   14   11
Sherrod..............  0-0   0-0   0-0   0    0    2
Sargent..............  0-0   0-0   0-0   0    0    2
Wynn.................  2-3   0-0   0-0   4    4   16
Evans................  0-0   0-0   0-0   1    0    6
TEAM.................                    4
TOTALS...............30-58 15-24   7-9  36   82  200
PERCENT.............  .517  .625  .778
 

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02/28/2008 03:36:22 AM
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