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Read Henry Hinton's feature story on veteran Hollywood actress and ECU alum Beth Grant in Bonesville Magazine.

Henry's Highlights
Friday, December 31, 2004

By Henry Hinton

ECU athletics' juggling act shifting focus

Bonesville Magazine
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• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
• Recruit Profiles
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• Tracking the Classes
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• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again

• HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS

• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
 

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Replay the audio archives of Talk of The Town with Henry Hinton: Select clip

Should auld acquaintance be forgot? I think not. It is New Year’s weekend and people are thinking about ringing out the old and bringing in the new. That includes Pirate fans who want to win — now.

Let’s focus on the positive, shall we?

One year ago, East Carolina University was without a permanent chancellor and athletics director. A new football coach had just struggled to a one-win season and things looked pretty bleak.

Here we are just one year later and there is a sense that good strong leadership has been secured to take the university and its athletics programs into a more stable direction.

New AD Terry Holland has already made a huge decision with regard to football by ringing out John Thompson and bringing in Skip Holtz. Holland wants to win quickly in football. The sense is that the Virginia coaching legend sees ECU as his last stop before retirement and taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude is not in his plan.

If you have questions about where Chancellor Steve Ballard comes down on these issues, keep in mind that he himself is a former college athlete and understands what it takes to win. Unlike most college administrators who never played the game, Ballard understands the effect winning in athletics has on an institution. He also must know how losing damages it.

To quote someone who has gotten to know Ballard rather well: “Make no mistake. Steve Ballard wants to win.”

So, the football program has a new game plan. Baseball is set to commence in perhaps the finest college facility in the country, and now basketball has started to wobble. What to do... what to do?

It is reminiscent of the circus act that used to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show when I was a kid. The performer would balance and spin plates on the end of a pole in amazing fashion. Problem was that just when he got one plate spinning another started to wobble.

Occasionally, one of the plates would wobble so badly that the circus performer could not get there in time to save it and it would it fall to the floor and break.

Holland must feel a bit like that guy. He has just put a re-spin on the football plate. The baseball plate is spinning pretty well. Now, the basketball plate is wobbling badly.

When Holland gets to the point he wants to evaluate Bill Herrion, if he is not already doing so, there will be a difference. Keep in mind that Holland has fought the Herrion wars on the sidelines already.

While Holland has been around all of college athletics his entire career, he is most capable of evaluating the performance of a basketball coach.

He must know that Bill Herrion is a good basketball coach. There is no denying his accomplishments in the last six years and before that as head coach at Drexel.

Herrion’s wins over conference opponents like Louisville and Marquette seemed way ahead of schedule for a program that has never consistently won in college basketball. His out of conference wins over Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big East and Pac-10 teams also have been impressive for a program with no history to speak of.

In fact, the opening season victories over Pepperdine and Oregon State seemed to be setting the tone for another over-achieving season.

But timing is everything. Having an early season melt-down like ECU has had for the last three weeks has not been positive for Herrion or the Pirate fans who have professed to love him so.

Lack of on-court leadership, team chemistry, poor shooting and a less than Herrion-like defensive performance have shaken this team into a downward spiral that can only get worse as Conference USA opponents start showing up.

It can be turned around and it just might happen. Whatever the case, Herrion and his team deserve the support of their fans during the next month while this young team tries to find itself.

The plate is wobbling but Herrion is the guy to try to get it going again.

Remember, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And it ain’t over yet.

Happy New Year.

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02/23/2007 10:14:24 AM

 

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