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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
By Brian Bailey

A day for wins and remembrances

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Saturday was truly a day to remember at East Carolina University.

It started early that morning with the dedication of the plaque to honor the victims of the 1970 Marshall plane crash. I was impressed by the crowd of both ECU and Marshall fans for the short dedication.

East Carolina will be forever linked to Marshall because of the crash, and the plaque will serve as a quick history lesson for visiting teams at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The weather for Saturday's game was absolutely perfect. Those of us in Greenville woke to a totally different weather situation on Sunday. Thankfully, that cold front didn’t come until well after the game.

Senior days always get me. I cried like a baby when my daughter played her last home game in softball. When I watched as Kort Shankweiler was introduced, with his dad and offensive coordinator Steve Shankweiler by his side, I know I had a lump in my throat.

Military Appreciation Day added to the day’s enjoyment. The flyover was breathtaking. I’m sure the members of the military that made the game all enjoyed a day of Pirate football.

As for the game, it was another testimony in just how far this Pirate football team has come in two seasons under Skip Holtz.

Remember West Virginia running for a country mile against the Pirates a couple of years ago. That’s not the case anymore.

Greg Hudson’s defense totally shut down an excellent Marshall rushing attack. The Thundering Herd really never got anything going on the ground.

Had it not been for a Pirate turnover and a couple of missed opportunities for ECU touchdowns, this one would have been an early blowout.

Give Coach Holtz and the staff credit for keeping this team focused on the game at hand.

“We’ll keep it going,” said Holtz. “We want to be humble about our past, hungry for our future, and focused on the present.”

The theme continues to work well for Holtz and his upstart crew. East Carolina now heads to Texas this week to take on Rice. Coach Holtz looked like he was ready to go on Monday. He wore cowboy boots to his Monday news conference.

Last year, the Pirates got off to a bit of a slow start defensively against the Owls. The team made some nice adjustments and came away with a big win.

Statistically, Rice isn’t that great on offense and is pretty miserable on defense. However, the Owls have been successful because they’ve been able to create turnovers.

“That will be the key again,” said Holtz. “We just can’t turn the football over. I don’t think we have to get real conservative, but we have to play smart and not turn the football over.”

The season has flown by and the Pirates have accomplished much. Still, this team and this coaching staff understand that there is so much more to play for in these next couple of games.

While there are only two games to go on the schedule, there are two more great possibilities for games. First, a win over Rice puts ECU in the Conference USA championship game. Second, the Pirates are already bowl eligible, but one more victory would just about assure the team of a bowl trip.

Football is back in Pirate land. Isn’t it nice to talk about big games in November!

Winning start for hoops

East Carolina’s basketball squad opened with a win over visiting Morgan State on Saturday night. It’s hard to believe that this was the Pirates seventh straight opening night victory.

“I’m just glad that we were able to be a part of great day at East Carolina,” said Ricky Stokes after the Pirates' basketball win. “It was a great day, and I’m glad that we could do our part.”

This Pirate team is better at just about every phase of the game this season. The squad is very young, especially down low, so mistakes will be made.

Still, this looks like a team that will certainly shoot a little better this season. Darrell Jenkins led the way from the point guard position. His hot hand early on got the Pirates off to a great start.

Coach Stokes had a great big smile on his face — until I asked him about tonight’s game at Richmond.

The Spiders also sport several new faces. Still, any trip to Richmond in hoops will give any coach a gray hair or two.

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04/21/2008 07:03:43 PM


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