Tracking the Stars of the Future
Monday, February 2, 2009
By Thad Mumau
'Meaner' Straughn in the
By Thad Mumau
All Rights Reserved.
For Erin Straughn, it was love at first sight.
Coaches from other basketball programs were very interested in the 6-foot-6
wing player, but East Carolina swept him off his feet.
What was it about the Pirates that Straughn
liked so much?
“Basically, everything,” he said. “I fell in
love with East Carolina when I visited. I really connected to the players,
and I felt it was the place for me.”
Straughn, whose trip to Greenville was in
September, visited Florida International later in the month, but his mind
was already made up to be a Pirate.
“I wanted something to compare East Carolina
to,” he explained, “but I knew where I wanted to go. I like the coaches
there, and they told me I could get immediate playing time.”
Jacksonville, Georgia Southern and Tulane also
“East Carolina made me a priority,” he said.
“I was their first in-home visit. They offered me (a scholarship) the end of
Straughn is averaging more than 20 points and
15 rebounds per game this season for Pensacola (FL) High School. He strung
together five successive 20-20 performances.
As a junior, he averaged 16.6 points, seven
boards and four assists for a 25-4 team which lost by two points in the
regional playoffs. He threw in a career-high 45 points against Panama City
Bay, adding 13 assists and nine rebounds in a spectacular showing.
“East Carolina is getting a class human being
and a good basketball player,” said Pensacola coach Bob Stinnett, who knows
what it takes to play Division I hoops. He was an assistant under Dale Brown
for three years at LSU and also served a year on the staff of the University
of New Orleans.
“He is going to be a very good player for East
Carolina, but he isn’t going to come in his freshman year and set the world
on fire. I see him getting 12 or 13 points one game and maybe four the next.
He will have a learning curve, and he may learn fast, but he is going to
have to make adjustments.
“He will have to go out on the wing and get a
lot of his points, then pick his spots to go inside. And he will be able to
do that. He isn’t the type who can score outside and not inside or the other
“Erin has got to finish more plays,” Stinnett
said, “and he is getting better at that. It’s not that he’s weak or afraid
of contact or anything; he just finesses too much. Last year, he double- and
triple-clutched a lot, and he still does too many finger rolls. But he is
playing with more authority. He just needs to go up and dunk the ball when
he can. I told him he has to get meaner and tougher.
“He plays all five positions for us, but will
be a three/two (small forward/wing guard) in college. He passes the ball
extremely well, and he handles the ball fairly well. He can shoot it, and he
plays much better than average defense. For us, he has to guard big guys
inside. He will be better against 6-6 and 6-7 guys, but will have trouble
against the 6-5 super-quick kids.
“Erin has long arms, so he plays taller than
his 6-6 height, and he has a nose for the ball. He gets up and down quickly;
he’s a quick jumper.
“He is smart in the classroom (an honor
student in the international baccalaureate program), and he learns fast.
He’s very observant, very coachable. He is a quiet kid who listens to
everything you say, and he answers when spoken to, but doesn’t say a whole
lot more. He is very polite and pleasant. He has great parents.”
Straughn liked what East Carolina coaches had
to say to him.
“They said if I would come in and work hard, I
would have a chance to win a starting position," Straughn said.
“I feel I can shoot the ball. I know I will
have to work on getting to the hole and finishing stronger; I need to play
more aggressively. A lot of times, I could and should have dunked the ball,
and now I see that. I have to have that frame of mind.
“I use the pump fake to get mid-range shots.
I’m working on that a lot because there are a whole lot of open shots in
Straughn, who signed a letter of intent with
ECU in November, can’t wait to begin working out as a Pirate.
“I need to lift more to prepare for college
basketball,” he said, “and I will get on the weights hard when our season is
over. I will be in the second session of summer school at East Carolina so I
can get a head start on my studies.
“I will have to work on my defense, and I will
have to be in better condition because the games are longer. And I know the
games will be a lot faster-paced, so I’ll have to play smarter.
“I am really ready; I’m eager to get there. I
love Conference USA and look forward to playing against Memphis and teams
like that. Playing in that conference and playing for East Carolina will be
Stinnett feels it is a nice fit for Straughn.
“I think East Carolina is the perfect level
for Erin,” he said. “They are getting a great kid and a great player.”
02/02/2009 02:53:32 AM