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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports



From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Deeper ECU hoops squad cruising so far


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Campbell and UNC Pembroke will never be confused with Louisville and Cincinnati. Still, the Pirates are off to a 2-0 start, and East Carolina coach Bill Herrion is relatively pleased.

“These early games are more about what we are as a team,” said Herrion. “We are looking at so many combinations, so many different line-ups. We have to find a way to get some of the young guys some minutes, to see what they do in a game.”

UNC Pembroke went into Wednesday night's game after losing 34 of its last 35 contests. This was expected to be a blowout and it was.

Derrick Wiley scored 22 points and Gabriel Mikulas chipped in 18 as ECU dominated the Braves 100-59.

All early indications show that East Carolina has a much deeper team then in years past. Herrion, however, notes that a lot of teams have plenty of players in November.

“It’s funny,” he said. “Every coach in America is deep at this time of the year. But you get an injury, or you lose a guy for any other reason, and all of a sudden that depth isn’t there.”

There are still some relatively easy assignments on the Pirate’s schedule, but the lineup does get a bit tougher over the next couple of games.

Next up is a Saturday match up at 8 p.m. with visiting Coastal Carolina. It will be a rematch of sorts from the “Scrooge” game of last season. Just two days before Christmas, the Pirates traveled down to Conway, SC, and came home with a 90-71 loss to the Chanticleers.

Then, it’s on the road for a pair of games at George Mason and Seton Hall.

The Pirates were 7-0 last season with wins over Ole Miss, Old Dominion and Virginia Tech. Then the Patriots came to town and handed ECU its first loss, 66-56, at Williams Arena.

Overall, I really like what I see with this year’s team.

Derrick Wiley is a true scorer. If he can keep his legs during the February marathon, East Carolina will have a shot at winning some C-USA games this season. Wiley is a “go-to” guy that can flat out put it in the hole.

Gabriel Mikulas brings experience down low and teamed with Erroyl Bing should enable the Pirates to do very well on the glass. Rebounding should not be a problem.

The Pirates will need big things out of Belton Rivers this season. At times, Belton appears out of control. The effort is certainly there if Herrion and company can bottle experience for the second year guard.

Rivers is an excellent player, and will be that much better with the freshman point guards in the program. Japhet McNeil is a true point guard, while Mike Cook can play several spots.

Most coaches would sooner take a bullet then have a freshman at the point, but both McNeil and Cook seem to be handling the position very well.

Moussa Badiane is stronger this season, but he probably needs to be even stronger. Still, Moussa is a crowd favorite, and he brings a shot blocking presence to the game that East Carolina has rarely enjoyed.

Corey Rouse may be a rising star on this team. The sophomore from Kinston was fun to watch in high school, and we’ve seen glimpses of his possible stardom in both games.

Luke MacKay poured in 29 points in one scrimmage this preseason, nailing threes from all over the place. MacKay has yet to really flash that ability through two games.

Frank Robinson is the third freshman of the group. He slammed home an alley-oop dunk in one of the exhibition games that Pirate fans are still buzzing about.

Bill Herrion is in his fifth year as the Pirate coach. His adopted theme this year is, “It’s time.”

With a schedule that includes just three January home games, and road games in that month at Ole Miss, Charlotte, Houston, Saint Louis and Cincinnati, it had better be time.

This weekend’s match up with Coastal Carolina should be a good game. Spend the day in Greenville and catch football, women’s hoops and then the men’s game. The ECU marketing department has some great prices on tickets for the day.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday in Greenville.

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02/23/2007 01:26:45 AM

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