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Bailey's Take on Pirate Hoops

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, February 6, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


Hoops Tradition Got Major Lift from Big Occasion


It was surely one of the best days in Pirate basketball history.

Granted, this program has struggled in the tradition department through the years. Case in point, this was the FIRST ever alumni basketball game.

What an outing it was!

The guys were great. I never expected all of the hugs and handshakes that I received from this outing. Guys were coming up, introducing me to their wives and kids.

You could see the pride in their faces. They truly missed the camaraderie that comes with sports and being a member of a team.

Most of the former players had all picked up a pound or two. I fit right in. I told them, “When you guys were here and in shape, you thought I was fat. Now, you think I’m in better shape because I look like you guys!”

Blue Edwards was the feature attraction. Blue’s acceptance speech when he was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year back in 1989 brought tears to those who heard it. Blue continues to be a class act today.

“I really looked forward to seeing everyone,” Blue said. “This gives us all a chance to come home, like a family reunion. I think it’s important to the program that the former players still feel a part of the process.”

On Friday night on our WNCT-TV 9 newscast, I showed the videotape of Blue when he shattered the backboard in a preseason slam-dunk competition organized by former Pirate coach Mike Steele. On Saturday, I asked him to take us back to his thoughts at the time.

“I knew I was behind in the competition,” Blue said. “I knew that I had to do something, so I decided to go for it. I had no idea that the backboard would shatter. I still have some of the glass from the backboard in my room.”

Blue’s not the only one with some of that shattered glass.

Some of the guys looked the same. Lester Lyons, Ronnell Peterson, Alico Dunk and Gus Hill looked just like they did when they were in school.

Kenny Murphy looked even better. Murph was a rail back when he played, and now he looked even smaller. Still, Murphy scored 24 points and hit the game winning three in the final minute.

“I’ve been playing with some of the NBA guys in a summer league in Raleigh for the last couple of years,” said Murphy. “I love the game and have enjoyed playing some great competition.”

Coach Bill Herrion enjoyed the game and saw it as the tip-off of a permanent tradition.

“When I got here, I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t some kind of alumni game,” said Herrion. “I think this is very important to your program.”

Ike Copeland played his greatest three days of basketball in the ’93 CAA tournament. He told me it was great to play in the arena again, and to look up and see that CAA championship banner hanging in the coliseum.

Sure, there were some aching bodies on Sunday. But for these former Pirates, the chance to make one more “shining moment” in college basketball was an opportunity that they weren’t going to let slip away.

Present-day Pirates Make Special Day That Much More Memorable

East Carolina lost to Saint Louis by 50 last season, and then by 13 earlier this year.

But Saturday was a special day for Pirate basketball. Perhaps it was the presence of all of the former players that caused the basketball to find the rim so many times in the second half.

ECU played its best half of the season in beating Saint Louis on Saturday.

The Pirates' zone defense completely shut down the Billikens' offense. That zone was led by freshman Moussa Badiane.

Moussa did a great job inside. At one point, he blocked three shots in about 90 seconds to really get the crowd into the game.

Moussa says he has enjoyed playing this year for East Carolina. His English is still a bit broken, but he says he’s adjusted well. He really enjoys hearing his name from the crowd after a blocked shot.

“It definitely gets me going,” said Badiane. “Our crowds have been really good, and I’m glad that they like what I’m doing.”

Yes, we all like what “The Moose” is doing.

What a day for Pirate basketball!

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02/23/2007 01:22:08 AM

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