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Bailey's Take on C-USA Basketball

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, January 18, 2002
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Crowd Not Only Showed Up, but Pitched In


It Doesnít Get Better Than This

This was exactly what was advertised when East Carolina joined Conference USA. A big game, a big crowd and a huge Pirate win.

Hopefully, sometime in the future we'll all look back at Wednesday night's battle as the night when it all began. Rick Pitino brought his Louisville Cardinals to town to play East Carolina, and the Pirates won ó and were on their way.

There will be bigger games in the future. There will be games with national rankings on the line. There will be games with NCAA tournament bids on the line. Thatís what you get with a major conference.

Sure, this particular season Louisville isnít the program it once was. But the Cardinals own a pair of national championship banners, and Pitino is one of the best known and highest paid coaches in the country.

The atmosphere for U of L's invasion of Williams Arena was electric. In the last week Iíve seen games at Cameron Indoor for Duke, the ESA for N.C. State, and at Minges Coliseum for East Carolina.

Duke has more tradition. State has a nicer place to play. But the game and the atmosphere that I enjoyed most were at Williams Arena, where East Carolina upset Louisville.

The crowd didnít just show up in numbers, it came to the coliseum willing to help this team win. Time outs were filled with loud music and seven thousand fans on their feet, all making as much noise as they could.

I know how hard this team has worked. I know how hard Bill Herrion and his staff have worked. I know that Coach Herrion really wasnít certain that his team could stay on the floor with these Conference USA teams.

Unbelievably, though, these Pirates could be 4-0 in league play, and thatís not a stretch. ECU has had a chance to win all four games late, including the Cincinnati game. The Bearcats, by the way, currently own the nationís longest winning streak at 16 victories in a row.

If the Pirates had shot the basketball well, then ECU would have another win or two in their new league. On Wednesday night Travis Holcomb-Faye and Brandon Hawkins simply didnít miss.

Think about it. The Pirates won with their best player, Erroyl Bing, scoring only seven points. Bing was in foul trouble and never really got into the offensive flow. He and Gabriel Mikulas, though, have shown that the Pirates have a great 1-2 punch down low ó a punch which will have an effect in this league.

What a night at Williams Arena! Hopefully, the 7,432 fans will come back. This team deserves it.

Bring Back the CAA Officials

I never thought that I would say that, but come on. These Conference USA officials truly leave a lot to be desired.

At least with the CAA officials we knew these guys. And on nights when the ACC didnít have many games, the officiating was pretty good.

These guys must be paid by the foul. East Carolina and Louisville combined for 56 transgressions on Wednesday night.

Bing was whistled for two fouls before he left the locker room! And Mikulas sat on the bench so much because of foul trouble he was never able to sustain his momentum for more than a handful of minutes at a time.

The game took 2 and a half hours to play. There really wasnít an offensive flow, because these guys called so many fouls off the ball.

Every time a player drove to the basket there was a block, a charge, a hand-check or something!

Fifty-six fouls in 40 minutes of basketball. Do the math, but that has to be too many!

Bing Exemplifies Work Ethic

On Tuesday, I was scheduled to interview Coach Herrion and a player or two at 3:15, just before the start of practice, to preview the Louisville game.

I picked up my son, Ryne, from school at 2:15 and headed on over to the coliseum. I thought we would get there early, and let the little guy shoot some hoops.

When we arrived at 2:30, there was one player already working out. Erroyl Bing was firing up shot after shot, using a new practice apparatus called ďThe Gun.Ē

ďThe GunĒ is a device that fires passes out with a little zip. There is a big net around the basket that forces a player to put more are on his shot. The net gobbles any misses up, and then both makes and misses are sent to the player in rapid-fire succession.

We watched as Bing worked and worked. He must have taken 200 shots in the 45 minutes before practice.

Bing finally came over for a short interview, drenched in sweat. After the interview and a quick shot of water, Bing was then ready for practice.

I had preached to my children that great players donít just go to practice ó they outwork everyone. My youngest got a first hand look, and most likely will have a better work ethic of his own because of the experience.

After the interview, Bing rubbed Ryne on the head and went back to work. The smile and the experience for my young son was one that Iíll never forget.

Erroyl Bing is just one class act on a team of very good people, both on and off the court.

They were rewarded for their hard work with the victory over Louisville. What a night!

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02/23/2007 01:22:22 AM

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