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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

From Hurricanes to hurricane for ECU


Just when you thought you had heard enough about the Hurricanes, the Pirates are putting together a whole different approach for another imposing storm. With Hurricane Isabelle barreling toward the Carolina coastline, East Carolina John Thompson shared this week’s modified game plan.

“We just have to monitor that very, very closely,” said Thompson. “First of all, we want our players and our families to be safe. We’ve got to make all decisions based on that, depending on what happens with our administration and our school schedule.

"If we don’t have school on Thursday then we’ll head west. We’ll spend an extra day in a hotel and then practice up there. Then, we’ll pick up on our normal game day Friday in Winston-Salem.”

As for that last band of Hurricanes, I thought the Pirates showed definite improvement. This wasn’t the same East Carolina team that was never in the game at Cincinnati or against West Virginia.

“It’s been a very difficult twelve days,” said Thompson. “This football team has been through a whole lot in these 12 days. We were improved against Miami and we have to build on that. We just have to keep on working and working to get better and better.”

The offense still can’t score, but they looked better on Saturday night.

I thought Desmond Robinson showed that he could be a playmaker. I also thought the running game was much better in game three when compared to the first two games. It looked like Marvin Townes was running with a purpose, and not tip toeing through the holes like before.

On defense, the Pirates also finally showed some bite. Miami scored on a long pass play in the game’s first couple of minutes. But this team stood firm, and trailed only 17-3 going into the fourth quarter.

There are no moral victories for this team. No one in the program is satisfied, nor should they be, with playing Miami tough for three quarters.

The only thing that would have satisfied this program would have been an upset win over the Canes. It didn’t happen, and now East Carolina braces for one of the nation’s up and coming teams, the Deacons from Wake Forest.

Who would have ever thought that Wake Forest would be the best football team in the state in 2003? East Carolina does have a chance to challenge that, but to date; the Deacs are the best in the Tar Heel state.

Wake Forest lost last week to Purdue, but the week before the Deacs stunned North Carolina State. That same Wolfpack team pushed defending national champion Ohio State to three overtimes before losing last week at Ohio Stadium.

“Wake Forest will do so many different things,” said Thompson. “But at times against State, they rammed the ball right down their throats. They are very dangerous, because they can just about do it all.”

Hovering distraction

Forgive Thompson if football isn’t the only thing on his mind these days. The two principal players in his hiring, former athletic director Mike Hamrick, and former chancellor William Muse are both now out of the picture.

Thompson realizes that his program must have a Bowl Championship Series connection in the next realignment, or things could really get ugly. But as always, the coach has a plan.

“I think we all have to set up and do a little bit more,” Thompson said. “I think if you are in a leadership role, like I am, then you have to find a way to do more. We have great leadership at this university. It’s about the entire community; we all have to put our best foot forward.

"We’ve got to find a way to win some football games and a lot of us have to really step it up for East Carolina University.”

I agree. Winning cures most woes. This week, though, the Pirates are a 19-point underdog against the Deacs. Then, it’s a well-deserved 10-day break before the Houston game.

The Pirates need to step it up, both on and off the field. Thompson’s team showed marked improvement against Miami. That same type of effort will be needed this week in order to win at Wake Forest.

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02/23/2007 01:26:56 AM

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