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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, March 9, 2004
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

ECU braced for back-to-back bullies


AUDIO: Replay this week's Brian Bailey Show with guests Dwayne Harrison, Greg Herenda & Dixon Sauls: Select clip...

The Pirates battled all year long just to make it into the 12-team field that is the Conference USA tournament. Their reward is a match up with Louisville in the first round, and then a contest with Cincinnati in the quarterfinals.

How’s that for a 1-2 punch!

There just aren’t many teams in the country that could sweep that doubleheader. Still, Pirate Coach Bill Herrion and company refuse to back down.

“I like the way this team is playing right now,” said Coach Bill Herrion as his team wrapped up their final practice in Greenville. “We won four of our last five games and I think we’re peaking at the right time. Even when we went through that tough stretch, when we weren’t finishing games, we were playing well.”

Herrion continued with his thought: “Maybe losing some of those close games, the way we lost them, made us better down the stretch run. Maybe we needed some of that to get us to play this way.”

Conference USA featured a five-way tie for first when the regular season ended. DePaul went from an NCAA bubble team a couple of weeks ago to the top seed in one of the nation’s top basketball leagues.

As for the matchup with Louisville, the Pirates go in playing their best basketball. The Cards have struggled with injuries, and have limped home down the stretch.

One of the best signs that this East Carolina team might just pull the upset came from Pirate assistant coach Greg Herenda. Herenda was on a recruiting trip on Monday night when I interviewed him on my Cable 7/Talk 1070 AM call-in show. Herenda shared this short story with the audience.

“It was really neat to see how our kids reacted to the news that they would play Louisville in the first round,” said Herenda. “A cheer went up and the guys really seemed excited about the chance to once again play a program with such a rich history. They want to do something special.”

The Pirates left for Cincinnati on Monday afternoon. The team will practice at an “off site” in the morning, and then work out at the U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati.

Follow ECU's progress in the Conference USA Tournament from start to finish with daily notes and digital audio clips from's onsite reporter, Brian Bailey.

While the 11th-seeded Pirates have Louisville and then Cincinnati if they advance, the 12th seeded Tulane Green Wave has Charlotte first, and then UAB if the Wave wins its opener. At least on paper, the 12th seed seems to have an easier road than the 11th seed.

Coach Herrion says it really doesn’t matter. This is a tough league and you have to beat the best to be the best.

“This conference just doesn’t give you a night off,” said Herrion. “It doesn’t matter which team you play, they are all tough assignments.”

Best of luck to Bill Herrion and the Pirates. If any team deserves a run of luck, after what happened during this season, it is East Carolina.

I’ll check in from Cincinnati for throughout the tournament for as long as the Pirates stay alive with stories and audio clips.

We’ll see you at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati…

Big news about to break

The city of Greenville has a major announcement coming up on Tuesday.

Sports Illustrated officials are coming to town for a very special presentation. The festivities kick off shortly before noon on Tuesday.

I’d certainly love to tell you more, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy! But I think that anyone and everyone with ties to Greenville will be most proud!

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:29:02 AM

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