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Henry's Highlights
Thursday, March 11, 2004

By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner of Greenville Cable 7

Herrion deserves positive signal

Brian Bailey Game Story     AP Game Story Game Story
Box Score     Season-to-Date, Game-by-Game Scores, Attendance & Links


East Carolina’s 61-54 loss to Louisville on Wednesday night in the Conference USA Tournament could be the beginning of something really good.

Too much effort to spin the season-ending loss in a positive light?

Not really. Bill Herrion continues to move the Pirate basketball program ahead against almost-insurmountable odds. That ECU finished the regular season with a 13-13 record in one of the toughest conferences in America says Herrion has the program moving forward.

Herrion should be rewarded immediately with a contract extension and a raise.

As ECU started the conference season with an 8-game losing streak in January, things started looking bleak. Then came a season-ending injury to Gabriel Mikulas.

At that point, Herrion really started earning his salary.

“I’m extremely proud of this team and the effort these kids have given,” Herrion said after last night’s loss. “When you lose a Gabriel Mikulas back in January, arguably one of your better players…. I don’t think any of us knew where this was going to go.”

The last 12 games of the year, Herrion had his team ready to play in spite of the problems the losing streak and Mikulas’ injury presented.

It was at that potentially vulnerable point that it started becoming obvious that ECU was making up some ground on the rest of the conference.

“We have closed the gap in this league, I think, athletically and physically”, said Herrion. “The last couple of years it seemed like we were running uphill against teams in this league. I don’t know if there is really much difference now athletically and from a quickness standpoint.”

Herrion has brought a defensive strategy to the Pirate program that has taken hold. It was never more obvious than last night’s Louisville game where ECU held Rick Pitino’s team to less than 41 per cent shooting. At times the Cardinals simply could not get off a shot.


Brian Bailey goes 1-on-1 with ECU coach Bill Herrion after the Pirates' hard-fought loss to heavily favored Louisville:
Select audio clip...
U of L coach Rick Pitino meets with the media after the Cards out-struggled ECU to advance in the C-USA Tournament:
Select clip...

Unfortunately ECU shot just 33 per cent. A lack of patience at times and some errant three-point attempts late in the game cost the Pirates a chance for an upset.

The loss of the five seniors, particularly Erroyl Bing, Mikulas and Derrick Wiley, will be felt. However, Herrion has a tremendous nucleus returning.

Next year’s team will feature three players in Mike Cook, Frank Robinson and Jaffett McNeal that will have one season under their belt. All three have the potential to be impact players.

Add to them an improved Moussa Badiane and Corey Rouse and there could be some magic in the ECU basketball future. Hit the weight room again guys!

No, a 13-14 record is not where ECU fans wanted this team to be this year but Bill Herrion is the right man to take this program forward.

The Pirate program is on the verge of a breakthrough.

Med School Heart Center update

The continued efforts of ECU to establish a world class heart center may still have an uphill battle in the North Carolina General Assembly.

In recent weeks the center has received a shot in the arm from the news that planning money had been set aside by the state. That was followed by a visit to Greenville by Democratic Co-Speaker of the House Jim Black who announced his unequivocal support for the project.

After a strange move at the end of last year’s session, Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight has recently gone on the record that he would support the ECU efforts.

Basnight proposed $180 million for a project in Chapel Hill in the session-ending technical corrections bill last year and nothing for ECU. The Chapel Hill bill set off a finger-pointing competition between the two chambers. Basnight had previously said he would support both initiatives equally.

Now, Basnight says he will support both ECU and UNC-Chapel Hill in the upcoming session.

That has given hope to ECU officials, including the future center’s director, Dr. Randolph Chitwood, that the project would get the necessary funding from the legislature when the lawmakers return to Raleigh in May.

On Wednesday, Republican Co-Speaker of the House Richard Morgan finally made his appearance at the ECU Med School. After a meeting with ECU officials, including Interim Chancellor William Shelton and Chitwood, Morgan gave us an exclusive interview on our Talk of the Town program on Talk 1070 and Cable 7.

While Morgan admitted being impressed with what he saw, including the demonstration of Chitwood’s groundbreaking work in robotic heart surgery, he stopped short of making a full commitment to the new cardiovascular diseases institute.

“We’re looking at financing arrangements and we want to be sure we can find the resources to do the funding and those recommendations haven’t been made to us yet,” Morgan told us.

Morgan has been under attack by some in his own party for agreeing to the November redistricting plan that some Republicans feel may put their jobs in jeopardy when voters go to the polls this fall.

Basnight and others have floated the idea of a tobacco tax to fund the Greenville and Chapel Hill projects. Many Republicans have said no to a new tax of any kind for the last two sessions. Morgan has been opposed to any kind of tax increase since being elected co-speaker last year.

Given the state’s financial problems, ECU may yet have an uphill battle getting the initiative funded this year.

Stay tuned. Anything can happen (or not happen) in a political year.

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02/23/2007 10:13:17 AM

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