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Bill Herrion’s basketball team is struggling. If this group
isn’t careful, it may hit the wall with still a good seven weeks to go in
Herrion, East Carolina's fourth-year coach, realizes the
Pirates' collective backs may be inching towards that said wall. And he
knows what must happen to head off any drift towards a downward spiral.
“Right now the most important thing with this basketball
team is that we just need to find a way to win a basketball game,” said
As I pointed out in my last column, there are no “easy”
nights in Conference USA.
Unlike the Colonial Athletic Association, in which ECU grew
somewhat accustomed to following a tough loss to a James Madison with a home
game against a William & Mary, that’s not the case in this league.
That’s certainly no knock on the Tribe, but no CAA team can
compare to the Pirates' next opponent, the Cincinnati Bearcats.
“One of the problems in this league is, when you look at the
next game on the schedule and now you’ve got Cincinnati coming in,” said
Still, with the Wednesday night matchup set for the wild and
crazy confines of Williams Arena, Herrion knows this team can knock off
“It’s a game that if our kids believe and are ready to play
at a very high level, it’s a game that we could win here in our arena," he
insisted. "However, we are going to have to play awfully hard.”
Herrion also has words for those ready to jump off the
“We’re going to need our crowd,” he said. “Our fans can not
give up on this basketball team. Just because we packed this gym for
Louisville and didn’t perform well, please don’t evaluate our team after
those games. This is a very difficult league that we are playing in.”
Herrion is never one to make excuses. However, he makes
several valid points, especially when he talks about his team’s youth.
“We have a very young team, but I think what we have proven
in this arena is that when the seats are filled, when we have energy and
when we have electricity, these kids play well.”
Cincinnati may not be the best team in Conference USA this
season, but Herrion says they still have the top program. That makes this
Wednesday’s assignment that much more difficult.
“I think when you look at Conference USA there are two or
three programs that really stick out,” Herrion said. “Cincinnati has
dominated the league since the league began. Bob Huggins is a premier coach.
He’s done a tremendous job.”
It's clear that Herrion has a game plan to pull off another
Conference USA upset at home.
Will the Pirates be able to execute that plan?
“The first thing that has to happen for us to have any
chance.., we have to play unbelievably hard. That’s Cincinnati’s trademark,
that’s there reputation. They compete at a very high level,” Herrion said.
It sounds like a plan to me. Look for the Pirates to come
through with a much better effort against Cincinnati than they displayed in
losses to Charlotte, Louisville and DePaul.
Herrion has a plan. Just don’t jump off the bandwagon!