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Bailey's Take on Pirate Basketball

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, January 4, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Ready or Not, Big-time Hoops Challenge is Here


When the Cincinnati Bearcats arrive in Greenville about four o’clock this afternoon, they will head straight to Minges for a workout.

There may be more talent on the Williams Arena floor during that two-hour practice session than in the history of the East Carolina basketball program.

That’s certainly not a slight at the Pirates, but an acknowledgment of the scale of the undertaking ECU faces as it dives head first into big-time basketball. In fact, it seems only appropriate that the Pirates' first Conference USA game will be against the best the league has to offer.

Coach Bob Huggins' Cats, led by C-USA Player of the Year Steve Logan, are loaded.

In this week’s Sagarin men’s basketball rankings Duke is number one. Cincinnati is number two. East Carolina is 221st.

The Bearcats, on a 12-game winning streak, are ranked 13th in the Associated Press Poll and 16th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.

In reality, they may be better than that. That’s how difficult the challenge is going to be for this band of Pirates.

The magnitude of the task is not lost on ECU head coach Bill Herrion, who acknowledges he's anxious — while leaving no doubt that he savors the opportunity.

“I probably won’t be able to sleep the night before the game,” he said. “It’s games like these that brought me to East Carolina. I can’t wait.”

Saturday night’s tip-off is set for six o’clock.

Conference Opener Comes on the Heels of Big Win

East Carolina rolled past Lees-McRae 85-44 in the team’s final pre-conference tune-up.

It was the highest margin of victory in 18 years for the Pirates. ECU annihilated Christopher Newport 104-47 back in 1984.

Once again, Erroyl Bing was THE man inside, scoring 17 points and hauling down 13 rebounds. Just think how good he can be with the help around the lane that will come with the return of Gabriel Mikulas on January 8.

Moussa Badiane blocked seven more shots against the Bobcats. Moussa is quietly becoming a crowd favorite at Williams Arena. When Badiane is in the game, there’s a buzz amongst the crowd.

Badiane is a real pleasure to watch. His shot blocking ability is most rare, as he is usually able to not only block the shot, but also keep the basketball in play. More often then not, he’s able to direct the shot to one of his own teammates, starting the fast break for the Pirate offense.

Pirates Deserve a Sell-out

East Carolina officials have long speculated that Conference USA teams would make for hot basketball tickets in Greenville, but word came from the athletic department on Thursday that plenty of tickets remained for the Cincinnati game on Saturday night.

That’s a shame, because this Pirate team deserves to see a big crowd against a program of Cincinnati's stature.

Thus far, in the non-conference portion of the schedule, there have been more empty seats than filled ones, often by a 2-1 margin. Hopefully, that trend will reverse itself dramatically as the marquee teams of C-USA roll into town.

Think about how hot a ticket ECU-UNC or ECU-N.C. State would be in Greenville. Someday we hope conference match-ups like ECU-Cincinnati and ECU-Louisville will bring about the same type of excitement.

It’s going to take time, because Eastern North Carolina has long been a part of ACC country. But it will happen — and in a big way — when the Pirates start experiencing some success in their new, high-profile league.

It’s the dawning of a new era of ECU basketball. Make sure you are "in the House” for the Pirates' debut in Conference USA!

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02/23/2007 01:22:18 AM

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