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The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

By Bethany Bradsher

New diversion: Collecting loose threads that bind


February is the time when a dozen Pirate sports seem to overlap, tournaments and preseason games and road trips all melding together in a puddle of purple.

But besides the obvious mascots and uniform colors, do the disparate East Carolina athletic contests of the past week have any common threads?

Iím so glad you asked.

With its 63-59 defeat of Marshall on Saturday night, the basketball team snapped a four-game losing streak and also set a school record for free-throw consistency, making 14-of-14 shots from the line.

The last time the Pirates were perfect from the charity stripe was on Jan. 2, 1979, when they converted on 10 of 10 in a victory over Iona. Iona is located in New Rochelle, New York.

New York is the home state of seven members of the ECU ice hockey team, a club sport that drew 700 fans to its Friday night game against UNC-Wilmington. The Pirates, who swept the Seahawks 14-4 and 15-1 over the weekend, will next play against Virginia Military Institute in the Blue Ridge Hockey Conference Tournament.

One of the most distinguished NFL coaches ever, Don Shula, once coached in Virginia, as an assistant coach for the Cavaliers in 1958. Shula also owns a hotel and golf resort in Miami Lakes, Florida, the site of the Papa Johnís Collegiate golf tournament.

The ECU womenís golf team, led by new head coach Kim Lewellen, took second place at the Papa Johnís Collegiate in Tuesdayís final round, collecting a 54-hole team score of 896 and placing three individual golfers in the top 15. The tournament was won by North Carolina State.

N.C. State has also handed the most recent loss to one of the springís most successful teams: The ECU womenís tennis team. The Lady Pirates are 8-3, and after their Feb. 11 loss to the Wolfpack they turned around and swept Elon in their home opener.

Elon was one of the eight participants in the ECU softball teamís Holiday Inn Express Pirate Classic tournament, the first of three tournaments on the Lady Piratesí schedule. The 8-2 Pirates beat Army, Seton Hall and Towson in opening games but lost to Michigan State and then to Ohio Sunday in the Holiday Inn title game.

The first Holiday Inn was opened in 1952 on a roadside in Memphis, TN, not far from the University of Memphis, whose menís tennis team will face the Pirates next weekend in a midseason C-USA tournament in Orlando. The menís tennis team had an unexpected break this weekend when their tournament against N.C. A&T and Campbell was cancelled due to the threat of wintry precipitation.

The match against N.C. A&T has been rescheduled for March 9, the day after the Aggies face the ECU baseball team. The Diamond Bucs (5-2), made a statement on Tuesday when they defeated Duke 19-5. Two Pirates ó Ryan Tousley and Jake Smith Ė recorded five RBI's each in the victory.

The Piratesí starting catcher, Smith is a senior who started nearly every game last season and hit home runs in four of them. One memorable two-run homer came last March 20 against an All-American pitcher, Brian Bogusevic of Tulane.

To end this circuitous journey through the maze of recent Pirate athletic exploits, we discover that Tulane was the victor in the womenís basketball teamís most recent game, as the Green Wave defeated the Lady Pirates 81-78 in overtime to drop ECU to 15-11 overall and 7-8 overall.

The Lady Pirates still hope to play well enough to make the C-USA Tournament, which starts on March 2 in Dallas, Texas. I grew up in the state of Texas, and this web is threatening to unravel if I donít wrap it up. And I may be onto something to fill the idle time of Pirate fans: searching for the most obscure possible links between ECU athletic endeavors. Call it the six (or eight) degrees of East Carolina.

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Click here to dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:12:49 AM

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