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ECU News, Notes and Commentary

The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

Notes: Another hurdle for Hands


Fall sports are wrapping up, winter sports are knocking at the door and even baseball has found its way into the news lately. So it’s a good time for a grab bag of items from around the Pirate athletic world.

A month ago, after the game that branded him the rising star of the Pirate defense, Marcus Hands reflected on his past three years: His initial commitment to play at North Carolina, a year at Hargrave Military Academy when he was declared academically ineligible, and another year spent in Greenville away from football until he could improve his grades.

“You’ve definitely got to love football to go through what I’ve gone through,” he said then, and now he’s got to clear one more obstacle before he can put his talent and passion on the football field each week.

Hands, a sophomore defensive end who starred at Laney High School in Wilmington before he began the odyssey that brought him to the ECU first team, is now out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to fix a separated shoulder. The ECU defense will certainly miss him in its last three games, but when he gets healthy he will be the kind of player on whom the Pirates can build their future.

“He’s a gold mine,” head coach Skip Holtz said in a recent interview. “He’s a gem. He’s one of those special gifts.”

Homecoming for Harmon

Tulsa is a new destination for most of the Pirates, but senior tight end Sean Harmon will be going home when he joins his team to take on the Golden Hurricanes this weekend.

A native of Edmond, near Tulsa, Harmon said that he doesn't know how he’ll be received by the Skelly Stadium crowd.

“I don’t know how it’s going to be when I get there,” Harmon said. “I don’t know if they’re going to embrace me or boo me or what. But I’m here for East Carolina. I’m here to do what they need me to do, and we need to go in there and get a W. That’s all that matters.”

Harmon is one of 23 seniors on the roster, and as team leaders they are pointing to the Tulsa game as all-important if any bowl hopes are to remain. Harmon’s emergence as a force on the ECU offense is enabling Holtz and offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler to give strong consideration to offensive sets that feature two tight ends, Holtz said last week.

Despite the fact that he is far from home and has played under two different coaches in as many years, Harmon is confident that he is concluding his college career in the right place.

“I couldn’t picture myself being anywhere with anyone else,” he said. “This program’s been great to me.”

Like the ECU football team, the volleyball team has three games remaining on its schedule. But that’s where the similarities end, because the Pirate volleyballers have a chance to post the program’s best record in more than 20 years.

'Big Foot' sighted at ECU

Robert Lee, perhaps the most reliable element of the ECU offensive scheme, has caught the attention of the voters for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the best kicker in the NCAA. As one of 20 semifinalists for the award, Lee was honored for his consistency in making 12-of-14 field goals this season that, along with his 21 extra points, make him the Pirates’ leading scorer.

Charlottesville connection

When the ECU basketball team faced off against the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday in a closed-door scrimmage, it marked only the second time those two teams have met on the hardwood. The first game, played in December of 1968, ended in an 88-79 Pirates loss. Considering the strides athletic director Terry Holland has made in scheduling prominent non-conference opponents in football and his connection to the University of Virginia, it seems likely that the scrimmage meeting will not be the last.

Pirates 'net' success

Under new head coach Chris Rushing, the volleyball team is now 16-10 and 7-6 in Conference USA. If they win their last three matches, the 19 wins would be the second-most in Pirate volleyball history, topped only by the 24 victories collected by the 1982 team.

Several stellar individual performances have helped bring the Lady Pirates to this point. Junior setter Heidi Krug has recorded 1.254 assists this season and needs just 15 more assists to set the single-season school record in that category, and Pam Ferris became just the sixth player in ECU history with more than 1,000 kills in a season with an 11-kill night against Central Florida on Friday.

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02/23/2007 01:11:51 AM

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