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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Home crowd becomes indispensable for ECU

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Just when it looked like the Pirates were going to drop their fourth loss in a row, the East Carolina crowd gave Bill Herrion’s team a spark.

A 15-0 run later, the Pirates were dramatic winners at home on Saturday night.

They say that time heals all wounds. Wins aren’t bad either. The victory put East Carolina in a much better position to make the Conference USA post season tournament.

To some that may not seem to be a lofty goal, just to make the tournament. However, you have to crawl before you can walk, and so on. The Pirates want to show continued growth and improvement with the program. Making the league’s postseason tournament is high priority.

Saturday night’s win over Southern Miss. wasn’t a thing of beauty. However, it was a victory and it keeps East Carolina’s postseason hopes alive.

The Saturday crowd certainly wasn’t the best of the season. That honor goes to the crowd that watched the Louisville game in person, the game that was televised nationally on ESPN2.

However, Saturday’s crowd may have been the most important crowd of the year.

“I was really thankful for the crowd,” said Pirate Coach Bill Herrion. “The fans could have given up on this team, but I think they know just how hard the kids have worked. The crowd really sparked us in the second half against Southern Miss.”

The Pirates have stretches where they just can’t throw it into the ocean. It’s extremely frustrating to the entire team when the shots just won’t fall.

“Most of the time it’s not a case of taking bad shots,” said Herrion. “We work hard, we get a good shot, but we miss a bunch. We’ve just got to figure out a way to get the ball in the basket. That’s the key to the rest of the season for us!”

League teams grab national attention

This past weekend was a good one for Conference USA in hoops.

Fifteenth-ranked Marquette looks to move up in the rankings this week, after knocking off No. 14 Wake Forest at home 68-61.

Marquette dominated the lane against the Demon Deacons. My pick for the C-USA Player of the Year, Dwyane Wade, scored 18 points in the game, including his 1,000th career point on a breakaway dunk.

My pick for the ACC Player of the Year, Josh Howard, scored 20 points for the Deacs in a losing cause.

Marquette coach Tom Crean enjoyed the matchup, which took on a postseason aura.

“It was an outstanding atmosphere in the arena,” Crean said. “The game had a definite March feel.”

Cincinnati pulled a nice upset in its game over 11th-ranked Oklahoma State on Sunday. The Bearcats beat the Cowboys 61-50.

Louisville won again on Saturday. The Cardinals took their 17th straight victory in downing Houston 81-55. The Cards are the early, “trendy” pick to make it the Final Four in late March.

I’ve written about this on several occasions, but I think it is worth mentioning again. The Pirates were dealt a terrible hand when C-USA put the Pirates in the American Division.

The American Division is loaded. The National Division gives teams a chance.

Memphis leads the National Division at 5-3. South Florida is 5-4. The Pirates would be battling for the National Division championship THIS season, even with their problems on the road.

Instead, the Pirates continue to struggle in a division that features Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette, not to mention DePaul and Charlotte.

Things will change drastically next year, when the conference drops the divisional format. The league's decision makers feel, and I agree, that going away from the divisional split will help C-USA get more teams into post season play.

Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing East Carolina get one season in the National Division, just to see how they would fair!

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02/23/2007 01:25:35 AM

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