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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

The Skid Stops in Tampa!

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The East Carolina streak was finally over, barely two days after I watched firsthand the 'streak' in the Super Bowl brought to a crashing stop by a well-placed pancake block.

You couldn’t see it on the radio, but you could hear the smile on East Carolina coach Bill Herrion’s face on Tuesday night.

“They just resuscitated me,” Herrion joked to the Pirate Sports Radio Network. “I think I went into cardiac arrest.”

True freshman Frank Robinson scored 19 points to lead the way. Robinson was 7-10 from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line. He had a most athletic slam in the first half, and he came up with a huge defensive play in the final seconds.

It certainly wasn’t a masterpiece. However, the streak ended at 20 straight C-USA road losses as East Carolina beat South Florida 59-57.

In fact, the Bulls had two players who were wide open on the final flurry. One shot was way off the mark, and the other missed just after time expired.

South Florida went on a 15-3 run in the final seven minutes, tying the game at 57. The Pirates were just 3-10 from the free throw line down the stretch, keeping South Florida in the game. But Robinson hit a pair of free throws with 11.5 seconds left to close the scoring.

Konimba Diarra's desperation shot at the buzzer missed the mark, sending the Bulls to their sixth straight loss. The Pirates snapped an eight-game losing streak with the victory.

Derrick Wiley had 14 points and 11 rebounds for East Carolina (9-9, 1-7 Conference USA). Erroyl Bing added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Pirates.

Brian Swift scored 20 points for South Florida (6-11, 0-6), which is on its longest losing streak in five years.

“I was very proud of our team,” said Herrion. “We’ve been close before. We missed free throws tonight but we also made some plays late. I told the team that all it takes is one win. I really think we can get on a roll because we aren’t playing that badly. Learning how to win games on the road is critical for our program.”

Another key to the victory was the Pirates' lack of turnovers. This same team that would turn the ball over getting off the bus had zero first half give-aways. Sure, USF sat back in a zone, but still, zero turnovers for a half and just four for the game is an amazing statistic.

I know that Coach Herrion has taken the recent losing streak as hard as anyone has, so it was good to “hear him smile” after Tuesday night’s win.

Incredible experience in locked down Houston

I was fortunate enough to get the chance to cover the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston.

It was my second trip to Houston in my career. The first came when the Pirates beat Texas Tech in the Bowl. That game was played in the Astrodome.

The Super Bowl was played in Reliant Stadium. If the Astrodome was the “8th Wonder of the World,” then Reliant is nine, ten, eleven and twelve.

They were building Reliant Stadium when we were there for the 2000 bowl game, and officials talked about the retractable roof. We got the chance to see that roof in action when NFL officials decided to close the dome because of a chance of rain.

I couldn’t believe the security at the Super Bowl. I went to Atlanta for Super Bowl XXVIII when Dallas beat Buffalo, and the security at that time was marginal at best.

Reliant Stadium should have been the safest place on earth. I arrived at the stadium at 11 AM for the 5:25 PM Central time kick-off. It took me three hours to go through all of the security measures, despite arriving six and a half hours early.

Every time you moved, at least three guys in yellow jackets looked at your face, then to your pictured credential, and then back to your face and then back to your number on the credential.

The only real problem is that everyone really wasn’t on the same page in security. One group would let you in a room, and then another group would stop you on your exit, and tell you that you weren’t supposed to be there. Then you had to explain that the other security waved you on.

It was tight. But apparently it wasn’t tight enough. The streaker started at about midfield, and was heading right for me in the end zone when one of the Patriots took him out. How that guy got past security, I’ll never know!

Security should have stopped Janet Jackson. She was impersonating an entertainer. What an embarrassment for the NFL!

The Super Bowl experience was one that I will never forget. What a thrill and what a privilege to cover sports in North Carolina and to get a chance to cover football’s biggest game!

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02/23/2007 01:28:56 AM

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