Insights and Observations
Monday, January 16, 2006
By Henry Hinton
Pirates must regroup for
long league gauntlet
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After an emotionally
draining loss at home to Memphis on Wednesday night, East Carolina could not
get it together for another tough Conference USA game on Saturday, losing on
the road to Texas-El Paso 58-45.
The 45 points were the
low water mark for the Pirates this season, which should concern Ricky
Stokes and his coaching staff.
This edition of the
Pirates appears to be reminiscent of some recent ECU teams which had a
tendency to play well in the big games and then disappear in other league
games, particularly on the road.
Jeremy Ingram was the
high man for the Pirates with just 9 points. Perhaps more perplexing was
Corey Rouse’s offensive output. Rouse was limited to just six points on the
evening; however, he did pull down nine rebounds.
The Pirates must now pull
themselves together morale-wise for a long conference stretch run which
includes Wednesday night’s home game with Southern Methodist. The Mustangs
are fresh off a 20-point loss to that same Memphis Tigers team that ECU
played tough last week. The game was played at Memphis.
The loss to Memphis
dropped the SMU record to 7-8 overall. They are winless in C-USA through two
The Mustangs feature a
one-two punch at guard with leading scorer Bryan Hopkins, a senior averaging
over 16 points, and sophomore point guard Derrick Roberts, who is scoring
over 12 per game.
Coach Jimmy Tubbs’ team
has been helped tremendously by true freshman Brian Morris, a 6’8” forward
from Oregon who leads the team in rebounding at over 7 boards per game. SMU
also features a 6’11” center in Donatas Rackaukas, a junior from Lithuania.
Tubbs is in his second
year at SMU after a successful stint as an assistant at Oklahoma.
After facing the Mustangs
at home, ECU will hit the road for a Saturday game at Tulane. Then the
Pirates return home for two consecutive games in Minges Coliseum's Williams
Arena, with Central Florida on the 25th and Tulsa on the 28th.
The SMU and UCF games
will be televised locally by WITN-TV.
The Pirates are hitting
that mid-January stretch when travel, studies, practice and games all seem
to run together. It is a ritual that can become brutal in far-flung C-USA —
particularly for ECU, which faces an extraordinarily demanding travel
Road games in this league
can create three- and four-day junkets, which means student-athletes become
more athlete than student.
Stokes and company are
hoping the scoring doldrums displayed in El Paso on Saturday night are not a
sign of things to come.
Perhaps the friendly
confines of their home court will be just what the doctor ordered as the
Pirates continue to try and prove the newly down-scaled C-USA is the right
home for the program.
Wednesday’s game with
Southern Methodist provides another opportunity to prove to the league that
the Pirates are the up and comer in the league.
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04/21/2008 07:04:56 PM