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Don't miss Al Myatt's profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004 Bonesville Magazine.

View from the East
Thursday, January 13, 2005

By Al Myatt

Pirates turn up the heat but come up short


    Postgame Audio: Herrion, Rouse, Cook
   • Associated Press Game Story
   • Al Myatt Game Analysis
   • Box Score
   • Comprehensive Schedule, Scores, Attendance

Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• 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


GREENVILLE — Bill Herrion is a prodigious perspirer. Part of his postgame routine involves changing out of his soaked dress shirt into an East Carolina T-shirt.

But Herrion wasn't the only coach sweating in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Wednesday night.

Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins arrived in the postgame interview area looking like he was ready to appear in one of those overly-moist Gatorade commercials. His shirt looked like he had just gotten one of those celebratory Gatorade showers from a mischievously-upturned drinking cooler.

That wasn't the case, of course, as the Bearcats managed to hang on for an 84-78 Conference USA win over ECU in what was likely their last trip to Greenville.

Any Cincinnati player who would have attempted to gleefully douse Huggins after the nation's No. 13 team improved to 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the league would have been putting his scholarship and physical well being at risk.

Huggins spent about as much time on the court as his players and divided his wrath pretty evenly between the officials and his team.

With the combined body heat of 6,191 fans and unseasonably warm weather, the arena felt like a front porch on a breezeless August night. The conditions and the Bearcats, too, were pretty oppressive as ECU trailed 57-37 with 15 minutes left.

But then the Pirates warmed up to the challenge with a 14-2 run over five minutes that trimmed Cincinnati's lead to 59-51. The crowd, which had been about as involved as stage props since an 11-2 first half run by the Bearcats, became energized again.

The Pirates got within 78-74 with 1:32 to go but Cincinnati, which went the last four minutes without a field goal, closed the deal by hitting four of its last four free throws.

ECU outrebounded the physical Bearcats 47-32 as Corey Rouse, who moved to small forward to give the Pirates a bigger lineup, responded with 21 points and 13 boards.

ECU also hit 46 percent from the floor against Huggins' club. That's pretty impressive when one considers that No. 1 Illinois only managed to shoot 39.3 percent from the floor in Cincinnati's only loss.

"If you had told me we would outrebound them by the margin that we did and shoot that percentage, I would have thought we would have a chance for the upset," Herrion said.

The ECU coach felt the opportunity to stun Cincinnati was severely jeopardized when ECU made 14 turnovers in the first half and allowed the Bearcats to score 20 points off of the miscues.

"We've been down this road before," Herrion said. "Tonight had nothing to do with a lack of effort. If you don't bring your lunch pail against them, you're going to get exposed. ... We're really playing pretty good basketball right now. I know the losing affects a lot of people in this area but the margin for error in this league is microscopic.

"A game you have a chance to win like last week against South Florida is like a piece of gold. You look down the schedule and you don't know when you'll have a chance to win again. It's a tough feeling. It's a tough position to be in. ... You can play well in this league and not win. It's a hard position to be in."

Herrion challenged his players at the half.

"We've had enough," he said. "We've been stepped on enough. We're a young team but if you don't step up in this league, you'll get exposed."

Rouse at small forward, an effective zone defense and a good transition game helped make ECU competitive down the stretch. The Pirates made Huggins sweat.

The key for the Pirates is to sustain the level of effort and performance from the outset of games that allowed them to make a stretch run against a powerful program.

"At this level, you need to play for 40 minutes," said the ECU coach.

"If we take that approach coming out of the locker room, we can beat a lot of teams," said ECU sophomore guard Mike Cook, who scored 19 points.

The Pirates now take aim on UAB at 1 p.m. at home on Saturday.

"I know a lot of the crowd came to see Coach Huggins and Cincinnati," Herrion said. "But now they need to come back for UAB. Our guys need to prepare to handle pressure. If our guys thought they saw pressure tonight, just wait and see what UAB brings."


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02/23/2007 12:33:59 AM

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