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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

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

Pirates seek firm foothold among league's leaders

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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, 80-59.

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 half.

Now, Charlotte must try and snap that four game losing streak against an East Carolina team which is expected to be anything but a pushover.

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!

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02/23/2007 01:25:46 AM

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