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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports

From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
By Brian Bailey

Hoops season here for 'left-handed' Pirates

Bonesville Magazine

• PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact

• Recruit Profiles
• Rookie Books
• Tracking the Classes
• Florida Pipeline
• NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again


• STEVE BALLARD: New Leader Takes Charge

• SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door

• KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams

• BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate


Replay Tuesday's Brian Bailey Show, featuring special guest Sharon Baldwin-Tener: Select clip

Basketball tips off for the Pirates today at high noon, as East Carolina takes on Pepperdine in the BCA Invitational.

The Pirates will have to play ‘left handed’ after losing Moussa Badiane to that one-game suspension for playing in that league that wasn’t sanctioned through the NCAA.

The ironic part is that Coach Bill Herrion was already preparing for a couple of games without Moussa because of Badiane’s bad thumb.

“We knew about this back in June,” explained Herrion. “We just didn’t get an answer until late last week. I’m going to be anxious to see how we play without Moussa in there. I think it was good that we played that first exhibition without him to help us prepare.

"Mike Castro, Corey Rouse, Jonathan Hart, all of our front court players are going to have to step up.”

Herrion doesn’t seem all that concerned with playing without Moussa for one game. He is, however, perplexed at how his team has been timid on the boards during the preseason.

“I’m really concerned with our rebounding,” said Herrion. “Both with Moussa and without him, we just didn’t do a very good job in the preseason games in rebounding the basketball. We’ll have to do a much better job on the glass if we are to have any success against Pepperdine.”

East Carolina drew a tough first round opponent in the Waves. This Pepperdine team was 9-5 in the West Coast Conference last year and they return 3 starters and 11 other players. They have an up-tempo style that East Carolina will have to deal with from the opening tip.

“They are a very talented basketball team,” said Herrion. “They are well coached. Paul Westphal was a great NBA player and a very successful coach in the pros with the Phoenix Suns and the Seattle Supersonics. They really play up tempo and average over 80 points per game.”

Herrion says the Pirates will especially miss Moussa’s presence around the basket. Still, it’s just for one game, and the tournament provides a trio of games to open the season.

J.T. stands by 3rd down call

The East Carolina postgame shows and message boards were hopping after the Pirates' football loss to South Florida on Saturday night.

One of the key topics of discussion was ECU coach John Thompson’s decision to accept a holding penalty in the fourth quarter.

With just over 11 minutes to play, Thompson had the option of taking the penalty, which set up a 3rd and 24 situation, or force South Florida to punt at 4th and 5.

Thompson seemed surprised when I told him that so many people had vented about the call.

East Carolina was trailing 24-10 with just over eleven minutes to play when the Pirates elected to take a penalty and force a 3rd and 24. The Pirates could have declined the penalty, which would have given South Florida a 4th and 5 at about mid-field.

“It was all about field position,” Thompson said. “We picked up 20 yards on that play. That’s two first downs. We just had to make a play on 3rd and 24 and we didn’t’ do it.

"I don’t regret that decision at all. I regret that we misplayed the long pass. That was ridiculous. That’s where the frustration comes. But I was looking at it as two first downs and twenty yards of field position.”

The problem with this theory is that on 3rd and 24 you’re giving that offense another chance to make a play. The Bull’s were ahead by 14, had nothing to lose, and just fired up a ‘hail mary.’ If the ball had been intercepted, it would have been just like a punt. The Pirates also could have been called for holding, or interference, giving South Florida a first down.

Maybe with a better defense you do play the field position game. Maybe Thompson’s defenses at Southern Mississippi in the 90’s could make that kind of play. But this Pirate “D” hasn’t been a good defense in some time. You’re not supposed to convert many 3rd and 24’s, but before the play, I was thinking that South Florida had a 50-50 shot to get it. And they did!

Many in the Pirate Nation say that John Thompson is squarely on the ‘hot seat,’ that decisions like this one could cost him his job.

“Having the ball at the 20 and having the ball at the 40 is a big, big, difference,” said Thompson. “I stand by that decision and if I had to do it over again, I’d make the same decision. We just have to do better playing the ball.”

I still think that too many things can go wrong to give the offense another play, especially with this defense. Giving the opposition another play came back to really bite the Pirate coach.

The heat is on, for a very different case of “Purple Fever.”

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02/23/2007 01:29:53 AM

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