NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Friday, November 9, 2007
By Bethany Bradsher
C-USA stature on the rise in
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Anyone who has ever strolled through the
tailgating regions surrounding Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium knows that Pirate fans
know how to entertain.
And now it seems that East Carolina itself is
gaining a nationwide reputation as a university with the gift of
Barring a major stumble, Dec. 1 will bring the
Pirates’ second major Conference USA championship game in this calendar
year. In late May, when the baseball team had the chance to roll out the
first conference red carpet, ECU proved to be warm and efficient hosts, said
Russ Anderson, the assistant commissioner for football and baseball
operations for C-USA.
Anderson could be very comfortable organizing
another championship game in Greenville, he said, even if the choice of
hosts wasn’t exactly made because the Pirates make better hors d’oeuvres.
The conference member with the best winning percentage gets to play at home,
and so wins over Marshall and Tulane would pave the way nicely, and even
with one more loss the game might come this way.
It’s a development that corresponds with the
Pirate Nation’s escalating alertness to all things C-USA. If the conference
was once like your annoying uncle who you put up with because he brought
good presents, it’s becoming more like the guest of honor.
In the days leading up to the N.C. State game, I
had several die-hard Pirate fans tell me that they would choose a conference
championship over a drubbing of their rivals from Raleigh any day.
That wish is being granted, as the memory of the
Oct. 20 Wolfpack win already seems to have faded into the background of a
5-1 C-USA record.
In the interest of ECU’s
ever-closer relationship with its conference, here’s a look at the some of
this fall’s highlights in this affiliation, both from the gridiron and other
• Amber Littman was in
early grade school when ECU joined C-USA in 1996, but this fall she earned
the rare honor of being named Conference USA Women’s Golfer of the Week two
weeks in a row.
On Oct. 30 and again on
Wednesday, Littman topped all other golfers in the conference with her
performances first in the Edwin Watts/Palmetto Intercollegiate and then in
the UAB Beach Bash, where Littman claimed the individual title after
shooting a one-over-par 145 (70-75).
Conference USA has taken
notice of Littman, a Stoney Creek, NC, native, even though the Lady Pirates
have only competed against two conference opponents so far this fall.
Marshall and UAB were both part of last weekend’s tournament, but typically
the cost of travel keeps ECU away from conference opponents until closer to
Sophomore Abby Bools and
senior Emelie Lind also received the weekly award earlier in the season, and
both also won individual titles in tournaments. The Lady Pirates have just
completed an unprecedented fall in which they won four out of their five
• ECU running back Chris
Johnson is in good company as one of only three football players to be
Player of the Week more than once this season.
Along with Johnson,
Houston wide receiver Donnie Avery, Central Florida tailback Kevin Smith and
Tulane running back Matt Forte have each been honored twice.
Johnson received the
award first on Oct. 8 for special teams and then on Nov. 5 for an offensive
display that included 491 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Memphis.
The weekly C-USA
recipients are selected by a panel of sports journalists, one from each
conference member’s region, Anderson said. Other football Pirates receiving
the award this year were quarterback Patrick Pinkney on Sept. 10 and safety
Van Eskridge on Oct. 15.
• Other players of other
autumn weeks in other fall sports included: Katie Koop (Sept. 10) and Kelley
Wernert (Sept. 17) in volleyball, Chris Ault for men’s golf (Sept. 12) and
Kat Norris and Amanda Broz in women’s soccer.
Norris was recognized as
the Defensive Player of the Week and Broz won the offensive award for the
same week, Oct. 22, after leading the Lady Pirates to back-to-back shutouts
over Houston and Rice the previous weekend. That was a shining moment in a
sport that sometimes gets ignored at ECU, especially since the dissolution
of men’s soccer two years ago.
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11/09/2007 02:04:23 AM