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East Carolina has a chance to make some real noise in
Conference USA over the next two games — and that will be just the beginning
of a long stretch of challenges.
Coach Bill Herrion says the next 15 games, all of which will
be against league foes, will be “individual wars.”
Those battles start tonight at Charlotte.
ECU will be an underdog on the road against a Charlotte team
coming off a long night against Louisville.
The 19th-ranked Cardinals flexed some Conference USA muscle
in that matchup earlier this week, blasting the 49ers out of their own gym,
U of L improved to 9-1 and 1-0 in the league in dealing
Charlotte its fourth straight loss.
It was close early on, as the 49ers trailed only 46-40 with
15 minutes to play. But that was as close as the 'Niners got in the second
Now, Charlotte must try and snap that four game losing
streak against an East Carolina team which is expected to be anything but a
Charlotte's Bobby Lutz is one of the best “no name” coaches in the league.
While Lutz doesn’t get the ink that a Huggins or a Pitino gets, he is one of
the league’s top coaches.
Pirate Coach Bill Herrion wants to see this match up with
Charlotte become a rivalry game.
“We used to play a great rivalry game with UNC Wilmington in
the CAA,” said Coach Herrion. “We have a strong alumni base in Charlotte,
and they will always have a good team, so I’d really like to see this become
a rivalry game for the Pirates.”
This will be a tough game for the Pirates, especially with
Charlotte on this current losing skid.
“We know this will be a war,” said Herrion. “We have to
become the type of team that can go on the road and get a league win. That’s
one of the next steps for this program.”
Not to put the cart before the horse, but just think how
much exposure the ECU-Louisville game will get if the Pirates can slip out
of Charlotte with a victory. The Pirates would be 11-2 (2-0 in C-USA),
setting up Thursday night's nationally-televised clash with the Cardinals in
Minges Coliseum's Williams Arena as a titanic bout of heavyweights for
control of first place in the conference's American Division.
A win over the Cards would give East Carolina a 3-0 mark —
with victories over 13th ranked Marquette, 19th ranked Louisville and
Charlotte — and would set the stage for a showdown with even bigger
potential implications the following week. The American Division's only
other team without a league loss, Cincinnati, pays a visit to Greenville on
Wednesday, January 22.
First place has a nice ring to it.
“We know that we have a tremendous opportunity,” said
Herrion. “But we also know that these are two extremely difficult games.”
It is indeed a chance for East Carolina to make an emphatic
statement about the giant strides made by its basketball program, and I for
one can’t wait to see Louisville come to town on Thursday night!