East Carolina has an NCAA Division I
leader in basketball. Sophomore point guard Brock Young tops the nation
in assists with 7.8 per game.
Effective ball distribution has
characterized Mack McCarthy's first two seasons as head coach of the
Pirates. Darrell Jenkins led Conference USA in assists last season as an
ECU senior with 6.03 per game.
That figure topped Memphis freshman
Derrick Rose, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. Rose
averaged 4.73 assists for the NCAA Tournament runner-up Tigers.
Jenkins' total of 181 assists last
season was a new school record, eclipsing the mark he established as a
junior when he had 166. Jenkins was 18th in assists in the final NCAA
statistics in 2007-08.
Young has 117 assists this season
through 15 games. The nephew of former Wake Forest guard and NBA
performer Danny Young had 81 assists as a freshman when he averaged just
14.5 minutes per game.
Brock Young's offensive leadership has
helped the Pirates to a 9-6 start as ECU prepares to host Texas-El Paso
on Saturday night. The Miners virtually buried the Pirates 91-62 on Feb.
23 last season in El Paso as Young's 6-for-6 shooting at the free throw
line was one of ECU's few bright spots.
The Pirates are coming off of
a 72-64 loss at Marshall which
dropped ECU to 1-1 in C-USA. Young had seven assists against the
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Young, who
starred a Broughton High, had his best offensive game on Dec. 17 in his
hometown when he netted 25 points in
an 87-76 loss at N.C. State.
Young's play has helped the Pirates
successfully adjust to the loss of four starters from last year's club,
which went 11-19 overall and 5-11 in the league.
Young started 2009 with 11 points and
at Clemson in a 79-66 ECU loss
on the road on Jan. 3.
Young bided his time behind Jenkins in
McCarthy's first season as head coach with the expectation that he would
be ready to step into an expanded role this season.
"Brock was a highly-recruited player,"
McCarthy said. "We went through this process with him of saying, 'OK,
you're going to be the back-up to a senior, Darrell Jenkins, your first
year and then it's going to be your team.' He has embraced that role and
come in and taken over this team as far as the leadership goes.
"Even though he's only a sophomore,
he's been extremely mature. Obviously, he has good genes. ... He came in
here expecting to have success, not hoping to have success. I think
that's translated into him being a very solid and consistently good
McCarthy: C-USA stronger
A perusal of the C-USA standings shows
nine teams with winning overall records. C-USA is currently ninth among
32 Division I leagues in the Sagarin ratings.
"I think there probably is more
parity," McCarthy said of the league's balance of power. "I'm not sure
where the top is in relation to where it was last year when you have a
national runner-up in Memphis. They look like they're completely capable
of making that kind of run again with the talent that they have."
The Pirate coach said C-USA's level of
talent has been improving.
"Everybody in the league is getting
better players," he said. "I know without a doubt that the league is
better than when I got here to East Carolina four years ago. There are
more good players on every team. Every team is well-coached and you've
got to be prepared every single night."
McCarthy said the league teams have
better records against non-conference competition although he believes
the C-USA teams have faced better competition prior to the start of
The Pirates have faced two Top 10 teams
in Wake Forest and Clemson. McCarthy, who directed ECU's first ever win
over an ACC team last season when the Pirates
topped N.C. State 75-69 in
Greenville, said the talent disparity has narrowed between his program
and the nation's elite.
"We've closed that gap some," McCarthy
said. "Each year, there seems to be more and more parity, just looking
nationally. We've improved our talent level, for sure. We've got some
bigger, stronger players. We've got more skilled players."
McCarthy hopes to have DaQuan Joyner
returning from the injured list to bolster the frontcourt rotation when
the Pirates are back in action at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
"We're certainly more capable of
competing against the top level than we've been in the past," McCarthy
Hockey results cool
With temperatures expected to drop into
the teens tonight, it seems appropriate to give a shout out to the East
Carolina hockey team which has won 16 straight home matches going into a
game with Loyola at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night at Bladez on Ice in
Greenville. ECU's club team is ranked No. 6 in the region.
There will be warmer days ahead,
hopefully, and the Pirates are anticipating good things this spring as
the baseball team is ranked No. 27 in the preseason poll compiled by the
college baseball writers association.