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Been There, Done That
Sunday, August 27, 2006

By Kevin Monroe

Time-worn axiom is real for Pirates

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Probably the oldest cliché in sports is the famous “One game at a time” adage. Coaches usually instruct their players to think of only their next game, rather than look into the future. This practice helps to keep the team focused on the present and not what may come down the road.

If you have heard any television or radio interviews from East Carolina’s coaching staff or players in the last few weeks, you have no doubt heard each of them allude to this mindset. The mindset comes from the top down, and Coach Skip Holtz has this team believing in itself and doing it one game at a time.

Being in the media and having to interview coaches and players, I have heard them all:

  • We just want to win the next one.

  • We are only looking at one game at a time.

  • We are just trying to go 1-0.

  • The most important game is the next one.

For the first time in my media career, I actually believe this is a team that isn’t looking past the next game. East Carolina has won four games in a row for the first time since 2001 and has a chance to extend to five this week at Rice. If the Pirates can achieve that feat, it would be the first time it has happened for an ECU team since 1999.

During its current streak, the Pirates won back-to-back road games at Southern Mississippi and Central Florida, another difficult accomplishment the program hasn't achieved in a long time.

East Carolina can clinch the Conference USA East Division title with a win over the Owls. Since entering C-USA in 1997, ECU had never before had a chance to control its own fate this late in the season.

Coach Holtz deserves the majority of the credit for the turnaround in the program. The Pirates are not only better on the field since Holtz’s arrival; they also have an improved attitude.

Holtz has only had two years to recruit at ECU, so the majority of his players are from the John Thompson regime. The most important thing that the program has regained under Holtz is the expectation to win every week. Every time the Pirates step on the field, they feel like a victory is achievable.

The Giant Killer attitude is also slowly coming back to the program. After the loss to West Virginia in week four, cornerback Travis Williams said, “I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t win the rest of our games and go 9-3.”

ECU managed to lose one more to a good Tulsa team, but the Pirates have seized control of their own destiny since that defeat by the defending C-USA champs.

Considering a pair of close adverse outcomes at Navy and UAB in the season's first two weeks — a time when the team was still finding itself — the reality that an 8-4 regular season record is within the Pirates' reach is a testament to the validity of the 'one game at a time' philosophy.

The challenge resumes on Saturday at Rice, which had a huge win over Tulsa this past Saturday and will have the home field advantage over East Carolina. I feel comfortable it’s a game that ECU can win if for no other reason than, it’s the next game on the schedule.

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02/23/2007 10:32:33 AM


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