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Bailey's Take on Pirate Sports
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From the Anchor Desk
Wednesday, February 9, 2005
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By Brian Bailey

International star rising in the East

Replay the audio archive of Tuesday night's Brian Bailey Show, with guest George Stackhouse: Select clip

©2005 Bonesville.net

LaShawn Merritt is a name that we may be hearing about quite a bit from East Carolina.

The United States Track Coaches Association named Merritt as its NCAA Division I Male Athlete of the Week. That news came early Tuesday.

Later in the day he was honored by Conference USA, and then he was named as the Athlete of the Week by USA Track and Field.

Not bad for a freshman!

Merritt turned in the fastest 400 meter dash time in the world so far this season at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, FL, this past Sunday.

Merritt's school-record time of 45.94 is also the fastest indoor performance ever by anyone under the age of eighteen.

Merritt also teamed with B.J. Henderson, Dominick Richmond and DeAndre Hyman to earn a third-place finish in the 4x400 meter relay with a time of 3:12.84 to earn provisional qualification.

The Pirates will next be in action at the Tyson Indoor Invitational and the Virginia Tech Challenge on Feb. 11-12.

Look for more big things from Merritt this spring.

I wonder if he can run a post route?

In search of consistency

East Carolina let another road win slip away this past weekend at Texas Christian. Somehow, someway this basketball team must learn how to finish games.

I think it will happen. Growing pains are just that, painful. Bill Herrion sees his team make mistake after mistake, with many of those miscues reflecting a direct parallel with the team’s youthful status.

The Pirates have six games to play, enough opportunities for this team to string together some wins and gain some momentum going into the Conference USA tournament.

The Pirates have always had success in Greenville against Marquette. Dwyane Wade may be an NBA All-Star, as announced Tuesday, but he and his teammates struggled at Williams Arena. In fact, Marquette’s Final Four season two years ago included a loss to East Carolina in Greenville.

The Golden Eagles have struggled of late, but the return of Travis Diener will certainly help their cause. The Pirates have won two in a row at home and hope to add to the streak on Saturday night.

ECU then hits the road for games at UAB and South Florida. With losses to both at home all ready this season, the Pirates will surely be underdogs in both games. Somehow, someway, the Pirates need to break through with a split. Beating South Florida may be easier then beating UAB because of the match-ups, but both will be difficult assignments.

Herrion’s club then returns home for games with Southern Miss and Houston. Although these won’t be cakewalks for the Pirates, they are the type of opponents that a young team could compete with early in the C-USA season. These would have been much better match-ups then playing at Charlotte or hosting Cincinnati.

Now, the Pirates have to take care of those two games and then pull together to win on the road at Tulane.

A 4-2 mark to end the year certainly isn’t out of the questions. In fact, a 6-0 run to end the season is possible, if this team learns how to put 40 minutes of basketball together.

The Pirates have proven that they can play with anyone in spurts.

Putting it together, though, is the ultimate challenge for Bill Herrion and his Pirates.

Herrion bitten by Black Widow

Coach Bill Herrion was competing in a different game on Tuesday night in Greenville.

He was a celebrity challenger to “The Black Widow,” billiard professional Jeanette Lee.

Lee was in town to help promote the Carolina Women’s Billiard Classic event in Rocky Mount later this week. That event is one of only seven held by the Women’s Professional Billiard Association.

Herrion challenged Lee to a game of H-O-R-S-E in basketball even before the match began. The coach recruited a couple of young helpers, but “The Black Widow” had no problem at all with Herrion.

Lee was recently named the 3rd Sexiest Female Athlete. It makes me wonder who was one and two!

Welcome aboard Coach Smith

Skip Holtz has made his final hire for his first coaching staff at East Carolina. Rick Smith is the new defensive backs coach.

Coach Smith has six years of experience as a defensive coordinator at the NCAA Division I-A level and 24 years as a college coach. He has also been a part of five teams that have gone on to bowl games.

Most recently, Coach Smith served a one-year stint as a defensive backs coach for the Berlin Thunder in NFL Europe, where he helped lead the Thunder to a 9-1 record and a 30-24 World Bowl victory over the Frankfurt Galaxy. Ironically, he was on the same staff with former East Carolina Coach Steve Logan.

Prior to his time in Europe, Coach Smith spent two seasons as co-defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech. Before that he was the recruiting coordinator, assistant head coach and secondary coach at Kentucky for two seasons.

Holtz first coaching staff is complete and is loaded with experience. Coach Smith joins the likes of defensive line/assistant head coach Donnie Thompson, offensive coordinator/line coach Steve Shankweiler, quarterbacks coach Phil Petty, running backs coach Junior Smith, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson, linebackers coach Rock Roggeman, wide receivers coach Donnie Kirkpatrick, tight ends/special teams coach Greg McMahon, and director of football operations Clifford Snow.

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02/23/2007 01:31:29 AM

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