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Henry's Highlights
Thursday, February 26, 2004

By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner of Greenville Cable 7

Snakebit Pirates held out for hope and found it

©2004 GoPirates.com/Bonesville.net

AUDIO: Midweek Tip-Off with Henry Hinton, Mike Steele & guests Bill Herrion & Mike Brey: Select clip...

A lot of teams would have packed it in and given up after an eight-game losing streak topped off with some close “shoulda, coulda, woulda” losses. Not the Pirates. That is a credit to Bill Herrion.

East Carolina has a chance to pull its overall season record back even at 12-12 with a win this Saturday against South Florida in the final game in Greenville for this season (1 p.m. tip-off).

Herrion admits the game is a huge one as his Pirates continue to fight for one of the spots in the C-USA Tournament in Cincinnati in two weeks.

He cautions, however, that even a win over the Bulls on Saturday might not get the job done.

“Not definitely,” says Herrion. “What we’ve been selling to our kids is that we have a three-game season. We’re playing the best we’ve played all year, but a win Saturday doesn’t definitely put us in. But it puts us in the driver’s seat.”

The Pirates are battling Tulane and Houston for a spot in the league tourney March 10-13 in the U.S. Bank Arena.

That the Pirates are even a contender at this point could be considered amazing. Not many teams go through the adversity of losing their top scorer and hitting a losing skid and come out on the other side playing their best ball of the season.

That is exactly what Herrion has been able to get from this team.

“When you look at how we started the season, we took care of business in non-conference going 8-1,” Herrion said. “Then we had a tremendously tough stretch.”

Tough indeed. When the league schedule started at home with UAB in early January, expectations were high.

“It started with that game at home with UAB (71-69 loss on January 7),” he said. “We never could get the lead and get over the hump in that game. If we could have ever gotten the lead in that game we would probably have won it.”

At that time no one knew how good UAB was in spite of its 22 win season in 2002-03. With that in mind, it was hard to tell how good the Pirates were.

Turns out, they are pretty good. But pretty good teams need some breaks, too, particularly in a conference that could send six teams to the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve lost six conference games by six or less. Obviously the Charlotte game (96-90 overtime loss on February 7) was a heartbreaker at home. Realistically there are three game that if we had back, that UAB game at home, the game at Houston and the Charlotte game… ..well, we could have won those game,” Herrion says.

Progress is a relative and sometimes elusive concept. It seems, however, that ECU has made great strides in a year that has had some unique twists and turns.

With that Saturday home finale with USF followed by a grueling week on the road at Marquette and Southern Miss, this team still has a mountain to climb.

Don’t make your reservations in Cincinnati quite yet.

But Herrion has his team playing its best basketball of the year at just the right time, and with a little help in the league ECU still has a great chance to make the conference tourney.

And if it does… ..you can believe that there is not one team who would count the Pirates as a sure 'W.'

Progress? Yes.

Send an e-mail message to Henry Hinton.

Click here to dig into Henry Hinton's GoPirates.com archives.

02/23/2007 10:13:14 AM

 

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